“Reflective parenting is turning out to be a key to mental health. This book really helps us understand what it involves in practice.”

– Sue Gerhardt, author of Why Love Matters and The Selfish Society

“Here was the application of ideas and research findings from two decades of work suddenly being turned into something worthwhile… This book is one of the best I have read in terms of providing a coherent and eminently practical framework within which the quality of the social environment that the family creates for the child can be genuinely improved.”

– Peter Fonagy, from the Foreword

“In short, the authors have not given a cookbook for behavioral management for parents to use with their children. Rather, they have provided parents with a guide for developing their own self-awareness as well as their awareness of their childrens’ thoughts, feelings, and motives. They have shown us the central importance of reflection in becoming the sensitive, responsive, and authoritative parents that our children need us to be.”

– Daniel Hughes, Author of Attachment-Focused Family Therapy Workbook (2011), Attachment-Focused Parenting (2009) and many other books and articles. He is in practice in Annville, PA, USA

Helping people reach their full potential

Reflective Parenting is a parenting intervention and model of parenting which applies theoretical ideas from mentalization, attachment theory and reflective functioning in promoting positive outcomes for children’s emotional and behavioural wellbeing. It is offered only to parents, not children or young people. Although originally developed with primary age school children in mind, it has also been successfully applied to work with parents of pre-school children and adolescents.

The model operationalises key elements of mentalisation in a way that is both accessible and easy to grasp for parents. Key to the model is the idea that it is vital for a parent to be able to notice what is going on in their own minds, at the same time as trying to understand the thoughts, feelings and intentions that underpin their children’s behaviour. This distinction between self (parental) mentalizing and other (parent to child) mentalizing is based on research (Suchman et al, 2010) which has shown that parental self-mentalizing has the greater impact on the quality of parent-child interactions, over and above the parents’ capacity to mentalize the child.

Reflective Parenting is primarily a psychoeducation intervention and not a therapy. It can be used in individual work with parents or through a manualised 8 week group intervention.

About The Training

This training will introduce the Reflective Parenting model and will focus on the practical application of Reflective Parenting in both a group setting and in individual work with parents. Participants will be coached in using a range of mentalizing tools unique to the Reflective Parenting model, helping parents to connect with their children in positive and meaningful ways. Using a mix of teaching and interactive workshops, participants will learn how to employ a mentalizing stance in their work with parents as well as how to encourage parents to be curious about their own minds and how their thoughts and feelings have an impact on their relationships with their children. They will learn how to enhance a parent’s ability to understand what goes on in their child’s mind – and how this can have a positive impact on both behavioural problems and the parent-child relationship.

Who is the course suitable for?

This course is suitable for mental health care professionals, social workers, health visitors, children’s centre staff, and any other professionals who are interested in parent-child relationships. It would be of interest to centres wanting to train their whole staff group in an intervention aimed at increasing parental sensitivity and reflectiveness to improve parent-child relationships, particularly where there are difficulties in the attachment relationship. If you would be interested in commissioning a training locally, please contact us.

Online Training

The online training takes place over 3 morning sessions (each 4 hours in length).

Next online training date: 7/14/22 July 2022 9.30-1.30 UK Time

The online platform Zoom will be used to deliver the live elements of this training. Please ensure you meet the system requirements for Zoom before booking on to any online live courses. Before the training, please test your equipment is working by going to Zoom.us/test and follow the instructions. This will ensure you are able to join this training and resolve any technical issues before the training day.


The total cost of the online training is £400 per delegate.


The group is facilitated by Dr Sheila Redfern and Dr Tim Baker who have trained numerous professionals in this model for the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Director of Redfern Psychology, Sheila Redfern developed the model of Reflective Parenting and is a consultant clinical psychologist with nearly 30 years’ experience of working with children and families in both the NHS and third sector. Tim Baker is a child and adolescent psychotherapist and a co-developer of the group model of Reflective Parenting. For a number of years he was also responsible for the parent support service in an adolescent in-patient unit.

Reflective Parenting for you and your child

This approach intervenes with parents and young babies as well as children of all ages, and encourages a view of the child from the inside, rather than focusing on managing external behaviours. This approach is encouraged because becoming more reflective in parenting helps in two main areas: It helps a child to develop a sense of who they are. Secondly, the approach helps a child to learn how to manage their feelings, and their behaviour in relation to their parent. When emotions can be managed better, or regulated, this leads to a reduction in behavioural difficulties in children and also reduces stress in parents.

Reflective parenting is at the heart of secure attachment, and this model is taught to parents through a range of different methods:

  • Training to parents via a group of 8 weekly 2-hour sessions (either online or face to face)
  • Individual sessions with parent and baby/child focusing on the relationship and bringing out the strengths which lead to greater security and later resilience in the child.

To request more information about Reflective Parenting complete the contact form.

©2022 Sheila Redfern

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