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Tavistock Relationships Mentalization Based Therapy – Parenting Together helps couples experiencing relationship difficulties and high levels of inter-parental conflict. Our approach draws on the original work carried out by Professors Peter Fonagy and Anthony Bateman on mentalization as a way of helping individuals. It can help parental couples affected by alcohol and/or substance abuse.

Mentalization Based Therapy – Parenting Together helps couples/parents experiencing high levels of inter-parental conflict to:

  • Focus on, and think about, not only the feelings and emotions they are experiencing, but those of their children too, learning to modfy their behaviour
  • To appreciate that their partner's thoughts and feelings may be different to their own, and that their partner may have a different perspective than they do, particularly in relation to alcohol/substance abuse
  • To be curious about possible differences between themself and their partner, and especially about the reasons why people may behave as they do
  • To consider each person’s involvement in/contribution to the problems of the co-parenting relationship and develop a better appreciation of what their children need
  • To promote awareness of their own and their partner's mental states/feelings/emotions, with a view to making choices that are in the best interests of children
  • To practice skills of mentalizing, communication and problem solving, particularly in relation to parenting and choice making around alcohol use.

Mentalization helps couples/parents gain more 'perspective' in order that they can start to put the needs of their children first.

Tavistock Relationships has used this approach to help couples who often feel so caught up in the difficulties and emotional turmoil of their relationship that they struggle to be able to think about how their partner, or their children, are feeling. We have recently succesfully used this approachfor families where children are subject to safeguarding plans because of their parents' conflict, including alcohol/substance misuse parents.The results are being written up for publication.  

This technique offers practitioners an effective and innovative way of working with parental couples who can often be highly volatile, emotional and conflicted, and who struggle to focus on the needs of their children.

You can read a short excerpt from a chapter of our new book, on using MBT, here.

Mentalization Based Therapy – Parenting Together is one of the interventions included by the Department for Work and Pensions in its Reducing Parental Conflict programme. For further information about this approach, contact Honor Rhodes (Honor.Rhodes@tavistockrelationships.org) or Andrew Balfour (abalfour@tavistockrelationships.org). 

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