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Mentalization-Based Therapy for Parents in Entrenched Conflict: A Random Allocation Feasibility Study

Hertzmann, L; Target, M; Hewison, D; Casey, P; Fearon, RMF; Lassri, D; (2016) Mentalization-Based Therapy for Parents in Entrenched Conflict: A Random Allocation Feasibility Study. Psychotherapy , 53 (4) pp. 388-401. 10.1037/pst0000092. Green open access

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Abstract

To explore the effectiveness of a mentalization-based therapeutic intervention specifically developed for parents in entrenched conflict over their children. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled intervention study in the United Kingdom to work with both parents postseparation, and the first to focus on mentalization in this situation. Using a mixed-methods study design, 30 parents were randomly allocated to either mentalization-based therapy for parental conflict—Parenting Together, or the Parents’ Group, a psycho-educational intervention for separated parents based on elements of the Separated Parents Information Program—part of the U.K. Family Justice System and approximating to treatment as usual. Given the challenges of recruiting parents in these difficult circumstances, the sample size was small and permitted only the detection of large differences between conditions. The data, involving repeated measures of related individuals, was explored statistically, using hierarchical linear modeling, and qualitatively. Significant findings were reported on the main predicted outcomes, with clinically important trends on other measures. Qualitative findings further contributed to the understanding of parents’ subjective experience, pre- and posttreatment. Findings indicate that a larger scale randomized controlled trial would be worthwhile. These encouraging findings shed light on the dynamics maintaining these high-conflict situations known to be damaging to children. We established that both forms of intervention were acceptable to most parents, and we were able to operate a random allocation design with extensive quantitative and qualitative assessments of the kind that would make a larger-scale trial feasible and productive.

Type: Article
Title: Mentalization-Based Therapy for Parents in Entrenched Conflict: A Random Allocation Feasibility Study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/pst0000092
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1037/pst0000092
Language: English
Additional information: (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved. This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
Keywords: mentalization, divorce and separation, parental conflict, children's outcomes, family courts, contact
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1501863
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