Learning to mentalize: A mediational approach for caregivers and therapists

Carla Sharp, Cilly Shohet, Deborah Givon, Francesca Penner, Lochner Marais, Peter Fonagy

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    21 Scopus citations


    Mentalization-based therapies (MBTs) are rigorous, theoretically grounded, and evidence-based interventions. However, dissemination of this psychodynamic informed intervention lags behind that of more skills-based therapies due to a lack of concrete operationalization of its key components. In this proof-of-concept article, we describe how the learning (mediational) components of an educational intervention, the mediational intervention for sensitizing caregivers, can operationalize key components of MBTs in behaviorally anchored ways. We suggest that the process of the recovery of mentalizing can be operationalized through five learning components: focusing, affecting, expanding, rewarding, and regulating. In operationalizing the process of rebuilding mentalizing using these observable, behaviorally anchored concepts focusing on creating epistemic trust, we hope to increase the accessibility of MBTs to a wider audience.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere12334
    JournalClinical Psychology: Science and Practice
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 American Psychological Association. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of the American Psychological Association.


    • caregivers
    • mediational intervention
    • mentalization-based therapy
    • mentalizing
    • psychotherapy


    Dive into the research topics of 'Learning to mentalize: A mediational approach for caregivers and therapists'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this