Mentalizing & the Therapeutic Alliance


A seminar with Catherine Freeman
London, 26 November 2014 (Wednesday)

6:00PM – 9:00PM
Ambassadors Bloomsbury,12 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0HX 

Over the past few years, the word ‘mentalization‘ has become part of the vocabulary of many practitioners. At this seminar that would be relevant to psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, mental health workers and counsellors, Catherine Freeman provides a background to the development of a therapeutic approach which focuses on mentalizing and elucidates its practical applications. The model has its roots in psycho-analytical theory, attachment theory, evolutionary science and neuroscience and evolved in the context of the treatment of Borderline personality disordered patients.  The focus in the therapeutic encounter is on the enhancement of the mentalizing capacity rather than on insight. The therapist’s mentalizing stance is an important ingredient of therapeutic work. The seminar highlights the importance of working in the ‘here and now‘ and the therapist’s ability to reflect on their mentalizing ‘mistakes‘. Specifically, we look at:


  • The developmental experiences that facilitate the development ofthe ability to mentalize
  • The debilitating effect of a reduced capacity to mentalize and the modes of functioning that pre-date the mentalizing ability
  • Skills and techniques aimed at developing a mentalizing stance


Catherine Freeman is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist member of the UKCP with more than twenty years’ experience working with borderline personality disordered patients. She worked with Professor Anthony Bateman and contributed to the development of MBT while working at Halliwick Unit, St Ann’s Hospital, London, between 1988 and 2008, in conjunction with Prof. Fonagy. She is currently in private practice and is a clinical supervisor to personality disorder services in the NHS.


Seminar Schedule


6:00PM: Session 1:

Understanding the Mentalization based approach


This first session will introduce and explain:

  • How Professor Bateman and Professor Fonagy’s work on Attachment Theory has informed our understanding of attachment patterns and attendant behaviours and pre-mentalized modes of thinking (psychic equivalence, pretend mode and the teleological mode)
  • How insecure attachment forecloses the development of self-reflection and mentalizing while impacting ways of relating to self and others
  • How trauma-based patterns of relating can be understood in the therapeutic encounter


7:30PM: Coffee Break


7:45PM: Session 2: Implications for Therapy


In the second session, we build on our theoretical comprehension from the previous session and explore:

  • Adapting our whole therapeutic stance to enhance the quality of clinical interaction
  • The process by which the therapist models more healthy patterns of help-seeking through the recognition of his or her own failures to mentalize
  • How to optimise change through the development of the client’s mentalizing ability
  • How therapy influenced by mentalization is being applied in a variety of clinical settings with a range of client groups


9:00PM: Close





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