Mentalization-Based Treatment for Parents: Reflective Parenting

26th November 2018 27th November 2018


Anna Freud National Centre for Children & Families Map
2 days



Training fee

Places available

About this course

This 2 day course aims to introduce Reflective Parenting; a model of parenting based on theoretical ideas from mentalization and attachment theory. Reflective Parenting is based on the principles of attachment theory, and the course will explain its link with the concept of reflective functioning and the positive outcomes for children’s emotional and behavioural functioning. This course is intended for professionals working in primary and secondary care settings who want to identify difficulties in the parent-child relationship and intervene directly to improve the connection between parent and child. This work can be with parents with new infants, or with parents and children who are struggling to manage behavioural and/or emotional problems and where there are tensions in the parent-child relationship. 


As well as a basic overview of the research and theory behind mentalization and attachment theory, and of the different clinical populations with whom MBT is being used, the course will focus on the practical application of Reflective Parenting. Using a mix of teaching and interactive workshops, participants will be coached on helping parents to connect with their children in positive and meaningful ways and enhance their abilities to understand what goes on in their child’s mind. A model developed by Alistair Cooper and Sheila Redfern, which operationalises the key principles in a model of reflective parenting, will be explained. This approach focuses on two tools which are easily accessible to parents: The Parent Map and the Parent APP. Professionals attending the course will learn how to use these tools with the families they work with.

This course will cover

 The first part of the course will cover the basic theory of mentalization, and the theoretical background to this, with particular reference to attachment theory and reflective parenting. There will be an introduction to the key principles behind MBT and the practice of reflective parenting. The course will comprise a manualized version of Reflective Parenting which is based around the principles of MBT and founded in attachment theory. There will be a practical guide for professionals to work with parents and infants/children on and day 1 will focus on practicing techniques to connect with and validate parents’ positions. Day 2 focuses on the child and the connection between parent and child. The research of Peter Fonagy and Arietta Slade in particular will be outlined, including a description of the Minding the Baby programme – as background and a clinical intervention using the principles of reflective parenting.

Please note that this is a different course to Peter Fonagy & Anthony Bateman's Mentalization Based Therapy training and to the MBT-F training. There will be some overlap with the MBT-F training as it is of relevance to those working with, and caring for, children. However, it differs in its focus on the parent-child dyad and the focus is on Reflective Parenting more than MBT. Peter Fonagy & Anthony Bateman's MBT course focuses on the use of mentalizing ideas to work with adults, particularly those adults with BPD.

Who is this course suitable for?

This course is suitable for anyone working in primary or secondary care, early years mental health workers, health visitors, children’s centre staff and other professionals who are interested in parent-child relationships in the early years.

It would be of interest to centres wanting to train their whole staff group in an intervention aimed at increasing parental sensitivity and reflectiveness to improve parent-child relationships, particularly where there are difficulties in the attachment relationship. If you would be interested in commissioning a training locally, please email

For those booking onto this training after July 2018, it will be a requirement that attendees of this training must complete the MBT Online training before the training start date. You will be given access to the Online training one month before the training start date. The Online training consists of a series of short videos that span four hours and cover the theory of MBT and so it is essential that you watch these prior to the training. If you do not complete these, you will not have the theoretical knowledge to get the most out of the training you are scheduled to attend. The content of the Online training will not be covered in the in-person training. If, for any reason, you require access to the Online training sooner than one month prior to the training start date, please let us know and we will be able to grant you access. Please note that training places must be paid for in order to be granted access to the Online training.

Aims of the course?

  • To introduce the concept of Reflective Parenting, its link to reflective functioning and it’s application to working with parents and young children
  • To give an overview of the positive outcomes associated with high reflective functioning
  • To help professionals in primary and secondary care to understand the basic model of Mentalization and how to apply the principles to managing behavioural problems in young children, and to increasing the connection between parents and young children.
  • To provide practical tools to explain and practice Reflective Parenting (e.g. Parent APP and Parent Map)