Mentalisation based family therapy and how to use it systemically with couples and families
Mentalisation is a model of therapy which seeks to promote more attuned and compassionate communication between us. It can be a very helpful approach when we are working with clients with difficulties in emotional regulation either parents and children or couples.
Emotional regulation is more difficult during stressful periods such as parenting teenagers or with couples who are experiencing conflict or avoidance of talking about difficult issues.
MBFT has its roots in attachment theory and neuroscience. Under emotional stress our capacity to think is compromised and we tend to fall back on earlier patterns of managing difficult situations. If our earlier attachment relationships were insecure or threatened in some way, we can lose the ability to imagine the others’ position thoughtfully, this makes it more difficult to negotiate a way through difficulties. For all of us this happens from time to time but for some it becomes an entrenched patterns of miscommunication and heightened reactivity leading to enormous amounts of distress. It is associated with many emotional and behavioural difficulties in teenagers such as self harm, depression and anxiety.
The workshop will introduce the model including its theoretical roots and help participants identify techniques to promote mentalisation.
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Maggie Usher, CQSW.MA is a Highly Specialist Systemic Psychotherapist in the Child and Family Directorate at the Tavistock Centre, with a particular interest in mentalization based family therapy.