Supported by the Department for Education, Tavistock Relationships has developed a new therapeutic approach for parents in conflict. The Parenting Together service is for parents, whether living together or separated, in blended families or dealing with children who are adopted/fostered, and who are having difficulty parenting co-operatively and are in conflict over issues to do with their child.
After a very successful pilot of the Parenting Together service, Tavistock Relationships has developed a 12 session model, MBT-PT, working closely with Professors Mary Target and Peter Fonagy at University College London. There is now a body of peer review and convincing evidence that Inter-parental conflict is very damaging to children and impacts on many crucial aspects of children’s development such as emotional, cognitive and academic functioning.
The MBT-PT intervention aims to help couples, who find it particularly hard and stressful to parent their children together, address their co-parenting difficulties, improve their parenting alliance, lessen the impact of their conflicts on their child and thereby provide the right conditions for the child to thrive.
The intervention places the enhancement of Mentalizing as the central focus of treatment. Mentalizing involves the capacity to convey to others our grasp of their mental state, such as their beliefs, needs and feelings, and to communicate our own mental state to others. MBT-PT focuses on helping parents to understand each other’s ways of thinking and feeling. Research and experience shows that once this happens, communication and the ability to solve problems together will improve not only between parents, but in other family relationships too.
Therefore the aim of the Mentalization Based Therapy treatment in the Parenting Together service is to foster the capacity of parents to mentalize on their difficulties in co-parenting, keeping the experience of their child as a central and uniting focus between them.
A training programme for professionals is now available. The trainings have been extremely popular and well received by many frontline staff and managers whose work brings them in to contact with families who have experienced the effects of inter-parental conflict on children .
MBT-PT can be used as a stand-alone intervention, or its ideas and techniques can be 'added-on' for those practitioners already practicing some form of couple/parent/family therapy approach.
For further information on Tavistock Relationships' research behind the MBT-PT approach, please visit our Policy & Research page.