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ITSIEY: Mentalizing in Practice; Working with Parents and Babies

7th September 2020 8th September 2020


Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families Map
2 days
9:30 - 16:30



Training Fee

Places available

About this course

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This module aims to enhance clinical practice by drawing on psychoanalytic and mentalization research and clinical work to encourage reflectiveness.

The module considers ideas and skills to increase reflectiveness in self and other - the practitioner, the team and workplace, and parents of babies.

Seminar 1: Introduction to Mentalizing

The theory of mentalization will be described, including its attachment and neurodevelopmental origins, and why this theory matters.  The talk will include an overview of the ways in which this eminently practical theory has been used in a wide variety of therapeutic settings, including explanation of the basic “mentalizing stance”, with a chance to practice this in playful, low-exposure exercises.

Seminar 2: Reflective Parenting

 This seminar will cover the following topics:

Developmental context of Mentalization – we will look at why parental mentalization is important for child development.

Reflective Functioning and the link to Attachment – using an attachment theory frame as a way of understanding what’s going on in the infant/child’s mind.  In relation to this we will look at the importance of marked mirroring and think about clinical work with parents who can reflect/those who can’t drawing on clinical examples

There will be an outline of some tools and techniques that can be used in the clinical work with parents to help clinicians focuses on the parental skills (mentalizing their infant’s experience, sensitivity, mirroring, attunement)  important for enhancing reflective functioning.  The focus of the seminar will be helping parents to mentalize their baby by thinking about not only the parent’s perspective, but also looking at the relationship from the infant’s perspective.

The seminar will also look at how to help parents to reflect on the self and ask the question:  what do you bring to the parent-infant relationship and where does this come from?  The Parent Map tool (Cooper and Redfern 2016) will be outlined as a way of applying this in the clinical work.

Seminar 3 and 4: Mentalization-Based Work with Parents and Infants

The day will focus on a mentalisation based approach to working with parents and infants. Drawing from both psychoanalytically informed parent infant work and the mentalization based approach of the Anna Freud Centre’s Early Years Parenting Unit (EYPU), which supports parents with personality disorders/difficulties to build healthier relationships with their infants and under 5’s who are on the edge of going into care.  The Mentalization Based Treatment (MBT) approach of the EYPU, helps parents  to begin the process of reflecting on their own and their children’s mental states. Parent-child work helps parents to become more aware of and responsive to their children’s needs, leading to more emotionally attuned parenting, more secure attachment relationships, and an associated decrease in child protection concerns.

Who is this training suitable for?

ITSIEY is suitable for professionals working in the field of infant and perinatal mental health e.g. nurses, therapists, psychologists, family therapist, health visitors, social workers and psychiatrists. If you have any specific questions about the suitability of the module for your practice, please email

About International Training School for Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY)

ITSIEY is the winner of 2017 Maternal Mental Health Alliance Emma Cadywould Award for Perinatal Mental Health Education and Training, see our news story here.

See ITSIEY 2019 course brochure here.

Delivered by a unique collaboration of internationally acclaimed Centres of Excellence (Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and Yale University Child Study Centre), the International Training School for Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY) provides mental health professionals with expert-agreed standards of knowledge and skills to work confidently with infants (0-3) and their families. This exclusive training encompasses a range of theories “seamlessly interwoven into a shared conceptual framework” (student). The ecological model that is at the heart of its vision and curriculum uses most up to date knowledge of advances in neuroscience combined with strong clinical and research experience relevant to collaborative work with families. ITSIEY builds a forum for international cross pollination of knowledge, skills and research in the field of infancy and early years mental health for practitioners.

Currently ITSIEY offers the following modules:


 Special Offer

a 5% discount is available for students who book on more than one ITSIEY module at the same time. Please contact to claim this offer.