Summary of course:

Mentalizing refers to the active efforts that we can make to understand what is going on in our own minds and in the minds of others. This course will provide an introduction to the theory of mentalizing and attachment and focus on thinking practically about how it can be a helpful approach when working with parents and infants.

Using practical tools, engaging activities, and case material, we will explore the application of this approach to the parent-infant relationship and how you can support parents and carers to mentalize their infants. We will also consider how to support our own mentalizing as professionals when we face stressful and challenging situations, particularly around infant safeguarding and multi-agency working.

Course overview:

Morning 1 – Introduction to mentalizing; working with parents and infants

On this first day, we will cover mentalizing as a developmental and relational construct, one that is particularly helpful for framing early years work as it offers a sense of how the work of parent or carer is at least as much about assisting in the collaborative endeavour (with the baby) of ‘mind-making’ as it is in body-rearing. The theory will be presented in an accessible way that assumes no prior knowledge of mentalizing.

We will reflect on how this relates to work with parents and infants and think about how a mentalizing approach can help parents to begin the process of reflecting on their own and their children’s mental states, leading to more emotionally attuned parenting, more secure attachment relationships, and an associated decrease in what at times might present as child protection concerns.

Morning 2 – Mentalizing as a tool (assessment, observation and intervention) and an introduction to Parental Embodied Mentalizing (PEM)

We will review the learning so far and focus on thinking about mentalizing as a tool, including looking at the parent-infant relationship from the infant’s perspective. There will be an outline of some tools and techniques that can be used in the clinical work with parents to help clinicians focus on the parental skills (mentalizing the infant’s experience, sensitivity, mirroring, attunement). 

Dr. Shai will present a theoretical and empirical overview of Parental Embodied Mentalizing, the full body movement and dynamic non verbal relationship between parents and their children.  Dr. Spencer will offer insights into how clinicians and health professionals can apply PEMA interventions in parent-infant video feedback methods in their practice to enhance the wellbeing of children and their families. She will do this by presenting video-recorded case-studies and vignettes of her clinical experience integrating PEMA in her therapeutic work with high-risk dyads on a mother and baby inpatient unit.

Morning 3 – Mentalizing in networks and teams and its importance for our role as professionals and the wider system (AMBIT)

On our third morning together, we will learn about applying mentalizing in support of workers themselves, whose capacity to ‘carry on and keep mentalizing’ is often challenged in contexts that involve high stress and which require the integration of contributions from what are often large and complex multiagency and multi-professional networks.

In this part of the training, we will be drawing on some key lessons and practices developed in AMBIT (Adaptive Mentalization Based Integrative Treatment) an approach that is used by a wide array of teams across the world where these kinds of contexts (including clients who are often at best ambivalent in respect to their engagement with professional help) are common features.

Morning 4 – Mentalizing with complex cases and safeguarding concerns

In our final day together we will focus on working with complex cases. Nicola Labuschagne will present case material, about the way in which a mentalization based approach to intervening with families can help professionals begin to address the individual, family, and systemic challenges of working with complex cases where children are at risk.

Who is this course suitable for?
  • This course is suitable for health and social care workers e.g. early year workers, nurses, therapists, psychologists, family therapists, health visitors, social workers and psychiatrists
  • For practitioners who are looking for an introduction to mentalizing with parents and infants or practitioners who have been on other mentalizing training but want to think about how to embed it in early years work
Aims of course

This course aims to:

  • Develop your knowledge and understanding of Mentalizing; specifically thinking about working with parents and infants
  • Provide you with tools and skills for supporting mentalizing in the parent-infant relationship
  • Enhance your reflectiveness as a professional, team and service, to support mentalizing during stressful and risky contexts
System requirements for online training

The online platform Zoom will be used to deliver this training. Prior to booking on, please ensure you meet the system requirements so you're able to join this training. 

Before the training, please test your equipment is working by going to and follow the instructions.


Join Waiting List

16th June 2022 - 24th June 2022
  • Online – live via Zoom (Joining instructions will be sent to the email address you booked on with at least one working day before the event)
  • This course will take place on 16th, 17th, 23rd, and 24th June 2022
  • 4 days
  • 09:30 - 13:30 (UK time)

Training Fee


Download Timetable

The Anna Freud Centre brings together those with a stake in the mental health of children and young people. Please subscribe to our mailing list to receive a bi-monthly e-newsletter and occasional updates about the Centre's training and events. 

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