Mentalization in the Family: A Guide for Professionals and Parents, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Mentalization in the Family

A Guide for Professionals and Parents, 1st Edition

By Janne Øestergaard Hagelquist, Heino Rasmussen


272 pages | 143 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2020-06-01
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Mentalization in the Family draws upon the latest research on child development, parenting and mentalization theory to provide a comprehensive guidebook for parents, teachers, social workers and any professional working with families today.

The book explains the core concepts of mentalization, an idea whereby an appreciation of internal mental states, both of others and oneself, can lead to an understanding of overt behaviour. It explores key ideas central to this - such as attachment style, internal regulation, emotional compass and parental navigation – but also offers practical guidance around issues such as play, siblings, boundaries and sexuality.

Accessibly written throughout and featuring pedagogical tools that bring the theory into life, this wide-ranging book will be essential reading both for a range of professionals, from those working with foster families to teachers working with troubled or disruptive children. It also offers a way for parents to better understand themselves, their own parenting style, and the dynamics which make up family life.


"Parenting and family life comes both completely naturally to us and yet is so complex at the same time, it can feel almost impossible to feel we’ve ever got it ‘right’. In this wonderful book, Janne Ostergaard Hagelquist and Heino Rasmussen, both parents and clinicians make the impossible seem possible. Using clear language, wonderful images and providing us with a tool kit, they help us to regain our capacity to mentalize in the most non-mentalizing system of all – the family. This is the book you will wish your parents had read and which your own children will undoubtedly benefit from. I wish I had it before I had children!"

-Sheila Redfern

Head of Service -Specialist Trauma and Maltreatment

"The authors use the mentalizing framework expertly to articulate for parents an understanding of child development that provides a basis for practical help in parenting. They have organized their presentation with crystal clarity while providing an abundance of everyday examples of parenting challenges accompanied by useful suggestions and strategies. Most importantly, they give primary weight to the quality of relationships among family members, grounded in sensitive and skillful mentalizing that the authors exemplify."

-Jon G. Allen Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine; and Senior Staff Psychologist in The Menninger Clinic, Houston, Texas.

"In this new volume, Janne Østergaard Hagelquist and Heino Rasmussen provide a sensitive and reflective guide for parents and families who wish to increase their mentalizing capacity. With humor and humility (two important characteristics of the mentalizing stance), and rich and vivid examples, the authors manage to gently convey not only the "what", but also the "how" of mentalizing. All parents and families can benefit from reading this book, and the volume also presents a very useful tool for psychoeducation that clinicians may use in their work with families."

-Carla Sharp, Professor Ph. D.Director of Clinical Training and the Developmental Psychopathology Lab at Houston University

Table of Contents


Part 1: Mentalization Theory

Part 2: The Nautical landscape

Part 3: Children and adolescent development

Part 4: The Mentalization toolbox

Part 5: The importance of childhood and the mentalizing family

Part 6: Challenges in parenting

About the Authors

Janne Øestergaard Hagelquist is an authorized psychologist and accredited specialist in child psychology and supervision. She works with treatment, supervision and training of professionals on topics such as Mentalization, overcoming trauma, and PTSD handling.

Heino Rasmussen is organisationally trained and works with training and coaching on the implementation of the Mentalization theory in organizations, teams and families.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health