Mentalization-Based Treatment with Families

Eia Asen and Peter Fonagy

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
May 14, 2021
ISBN 9781462546053
Price: $38.00
226 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
November 22, 2021
ePub and PDF ?
Price: $38.00
226 Pages
print + e-book
Hardcover + e-Book (ePub and PDF) ?
Price: $76.00 $41.80
226 Pages

Examining clinical practice with families through a mentalizing lens, this innovative book is filled with practical therapeutic strategies and in-depth case illustrations. The expert authors focus on ways to help parents, children, and adolescents to overcome blocks in how they relate to one another by gaining a deeper understanding of—and openness to—each other's experiences and points of view. The volume draws on the empirically supported mentalization-based treatment (MBT) model and interweaves it with systemic concepts and interventions. It includes guidance for setting up sessions and engaging clients; addressing emotional and behavioral difficulties that frequently lead families to seek treatment; and implementing playful activities, exercises, and games that equip family members to change problematic relationship patterns.

“This is one of the most innovative, engaging, and useful books about family therapy in the last 30 years! Asen and Fonagy enrich the structure of systemic therapy with mentalizing concepts and techniques, thoughtfully integrating not only the two methods of treatment but also individual and family processes. Beautifully written, and drawing on an array of innovative tools that include activities, exercises, and games, this is the book to read now about the state-of-the-art practice of family therapy. The authors are two foremost therapists who draw from wide-ranging clinical experience.”

—Jay L. Lebow, PhD, ABPP, LMFT, Senior Scholar and Clinical Professor, The Family Institute at Northwestern University

“This outstanding volume expands both mentalization-based and family systems therapies by integrating their concepts and practices for use by therapists of any orientation. With vivid, often very moving clinical illustrations, the book provides hands-on and delightfully creative ways of enhancing mentalizing capacity in families and individuals. Its accessibility and relevance across therapeutic settings makes it a 'must read' for clinicians at all levels of training.”

—Carla Sharp, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Houston

“It is difficult to create a clinical guide that allows practitioners to immediately apply the material to their work—yet this superb roadmap to systemic MBT is so easy to read and cleverly written that it is tantamount to a live training with guided supervision. This book is essential reading for any practitioner who would like to learn more about how to apply mentalizing to systems or families. It is richly illustrated with diverse and practical case examples that are relevant to many different therapeutic situations. Mentalization can be a challenging concept to grasp, yet the authors are able to break down the theory and practice into bite-sized nuggets that are not only easy to digest, but also clever and playful. This is the most integrative clinical book about mentalization yet. It brings the topic into the modern era by addressing how the application of mentalization intersects with culture and technology.”

—Tina Adkins, PhD, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin

Table of Contents

1. Integrating Systemic and Mentalizing Approaches sample

2. Effective and Ineffective Mentalizing

3. Setting Up Mentalization-Focused Interventions

4. Not Going Around in Circles: Mentalizing Loops

5. Teaching Families to Mentalize without Explicitly Teaching Them

6. Enhancing Effective Mentalizing

7. Mentalizing beyond Diagnoses

8. Mentalizing Social Media

9. Mentalization-Informed Systemic Therapy in Multifamily Groups and in Schools

10. Mentalizing across Cultures and Societies



About the Authors

Eia Asen, MD, FRCPsych, is a consultant child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in London, United Kingdom, and is Visiting Professor at University College London (UCL). He was previously Clinical Director of the Marlborough Family Service, a systemically oriented service working with marginalized children, adults, and multiproblem families, which is based in central London and is part of the British National Health Service (NHS). Trained as a systemic psychotherapist, Dr. Asen has been instrumental in developing innovative multifamily therapy approaches that have been implemented internationally. He has authored or coauthored 12 books, as well as many scientific papers and book chapters.

Peter Fonagy, OBE, FMedSci, FBA, FAcSS, is Professor of Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Developmental Science and Director of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences at University College London (UCL), and is Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Dr. Fonagy is Senior Clinical Advisor on Children’s Mental Health at NHS England, Director of the UCLPartners Integrated Mental Health and Behaviour Change Programme, Consultant to the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, and Visiting Professor at Yale and Harvard Medical Schools. His clinical interests center on early attachment relationships, social cognition, borderline personality disorder, and violence. A codeveloper of mentalization-based treatment, Dr. Fonagy has published more than 550 scientific papers, 250 chapters, and 20 books.


Clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, couple and family therapists and counselors, social workers, and psychiatric nurses.

Course Use

May serve as a supplemental text in graduate-level courses.