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The Development and Implementation of a Mentalizing Intervention for Foster Parents

Adkins, T; (2015) The Development and Implementation of a Mentalizing Intervention for Foster Parents. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Mentalization-based interventions show promise in improving mental health outcomes for children and parents through increasing a family’s ability to mentalize. Mentalization typically develops within the context of a secure, attached relationship and involves the ability to understand behavior in relation to mental states such as thoughts and feelings. In fact, mentalization might be a key factor responsible for the intergenerational transmission of attachment. (Allen, Fonagy, & Bateman, 2008). One area not given much consideration when recruiting or training foster parents is their attachment state of mind or their capacity to mentalize. This project involved the development and implementation of a psychoeducational intervention for foster parents, designed to increase their knowledge and ability to mentalize and be reflective with their foster children. Fifty-two foster parents in Austin, Texas, received the intervention. Pre and post data were collected measuring reflective functioning, parenting stress and child adjustment. The same measures were collected with a comparison group of 48 foster parents who received a typical training. Results indicate there were significant differences between the groups post training, with the intervention parents’ significantly increasing their reflective capacities and while somewhat lowering their parenting stress, while the comparison group did not show any such improvements. These findings support the hypothesis that a short-term psychoeducational intervention can increase a foster parents’ ability to mentalize themselves and their children. These skills are very beneficial for foster parents, as they frequently deal with children who come into their home with challenging behaviors, attachment issues and negative internal working models of relationships. They might be less likely to jump to conclusions about their foster children’s negative behaviors, and will be more likely to interact with them in a therapeutic manner. This type of intervention has the potential to lower placement breakdowns and improve the mental health of foster children.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Development and Implementation of a Mentalizing Intervention for Foster Parents
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470034
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