This is the first comprehensive clinical introduction to using a time-limited mentalizing approach for working with children, ages 5 to 12, who experience emotional and behavioral problems, including anxiety, depression, and relational difficulties.

Mentalization-based treatment (MBT) promotes a child's ability to make sense of their own mind, and the minds of others around them.

The authors, an international team of clinician–researchers who are pioneering the MBT model with children, explore the significance of mentalization and describe in detail the process of conducting short-term (9–12 sessions) MBT for children, including problem assessment and case formulation in terms of mentalizing techniques, the therapist's stance, and treatment termination.

The approach draws on traditional psychodynamic principles but integrates them with findings from attachment theory, the empirical study of mentalization, and features of other evidence-based approaches.

This book includes a chapter-length case illustration and an appendix that lists measures of reflective functioning in children and their parents as well as validation articles.

Table of Contents

Peter Fonagy



I. Theoretical Framework

  1. The Development of Mentalizing
  2. When the Capacity for Mentalizing Is Underdeveloped or Breaks Down

II. Description of the Therapeutic Approach

  1. The Structure and Aims of Time-Limited MBT–C
  2. The Therapist Stance in Time-Limited MBT–C
  3. The Process of Assessment in Time-Limited MBT–C
  4. Direct Work With Children in Time-Limited MBT–C
  5. Working With Parents From a Mentalization-Based Framework
  6. Moving Toward Goodbye: Endings in Time-Limited MBT–C
  7. Time-Limited MBT–C: A Case Study

Conclusion: Looking Back and Looking Forward

Appendix: Measures of Reflective Functioning in Children and Parents



About the Authors

Author Bios

Nick Midgley, PhD, trained as a child and adolescent psychotherapist at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and is a senior lecturer in the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at University College London. He is the codirector of the Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research Unit (ChAPTRe) at Anna Freud/University College London and has published widely, including coediting the book Minding the Child: Mentalization-Based Interventions for Children, Young People and Families (Routledge, 2012).

Karin Ensink, PhD, is a professor of child and adolescent psychology at the Université Laval in Québec, Canada, where she teaches mentalization-based treatment (MBT) and psychodynamic psychotherapy with children, adolescents, and parents. She completed her PhD under the direction of Mary Target and Peter Fonagy. Her research and clinical work continue to focus on the development and assessment of mentalization in children, adolescents, and parents. She has a particular interest in understanding failures of mentalization in the context of parent–child interactions and how this relates to psychopathology and personality, as well as treatment.

Karin Lindqvist, MSc, is a clinical psychologist trained in MBT for children (MBT–C) and parents at the Erica Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden, where she works part time as a researcher and clinical psychologist. Dr. Lindqvist's research concerns psychodynamic psychotherapy with children, adolescents, and adults. She is trained in reflective functioning and has done research on mentalizing capacity in clinical samples. In addition to working at the Erica Foundation, she works with children in foster placement and their families in Stockholm.

Norka Malberg, PsyD, is a certified child and adolescent psychoanalyst who trained at the Anna Freud Centre in London and obtained her doctorate at University College London for her adaptation of MBT to group work in a pediatric hospital setting. She is currently an assistant clinical professor at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut, where she is also in private practice. She has a special interest in the applications of MBT to children in foster care as well as those experiencing chronic illness and other impinging somatic conditions (e.g., epilepsy, chronic eczema, asthma).

Nicole Muller, MS, MSc, is a child and adolescent psychotherapist and family therapist based at the De Jutters Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, The Hague, Netherlands. Originally trained as a cognitive behavioral therapist, she became interested in MBT, which she has used for many years in her work with children and adolescents with attachment disorder, trauma, or emerging personality disorder and their families. One of her areas of expertise is working with fostered and adopted children and their families.

Reviews & Awards

For those readers whose time is limited, allow me to simplify this review: this book is the best manualized therapy book I have ever read. You should stop reading this review and start reading the actual book.
Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Mentalization-Based Treatment for Children succinctly and systematically elucidates therapeutic concepts, principles, and interventions within a psychodynamic framework highly relevant to clinicians, researchers, and students of psychology.

Internationally renowned child psychotherapist Nick Midgley has assembled an all-star team of mentalization experts to help clinicians of various theoretical orientations "mentalize" the vision of compassionate child treatment. The first section carefully articulates the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of mentalization and its enhancement, while the second section deftly illustrates the clinical techniques recommended with actual clinical vignettes. Mentalization-Based Treatment for Children: A Time-Limited Approach promises to become a classic treatment manual that can be applied to children with many different psychiatric diagnoses and family backgrounds.
—Geoff Goodman, PhD, FIPA
Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program, Long Island University, Brookville, NY; Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR)