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10-04-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 8/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 8/2018

Development and Preliminary Evaluation of Family Minds: A Mentalization-based Psychoeducation Program for Foster Parents

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 8/2018
Tina Adkins, Patrick Luyten, Peter Fonagy
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10826-018-1080-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Mentalization-based interventions show promise in improving mental health outcomes for children and parents through increasing a family's reflective functioning, or ability to mentalize. Mentalizing involves the ability to understand behavior in relation to mental states, such as thoughts and feelings, and typically develops within the context of secure attachment relationships. One area not given much consideration when training foster parents is their capacity to mentalize. This study evaluated Family Minds, a newly developed psychoeducational intervention for foster parents, designed to increase their ability to mentalize. The current paper reports on the development and preliminary empirical evaluation of Family Minds in a quasi-experimental study where 102 foster parents received either Family Minds or a typical foster parenting class, which served as a control group. Results indicate that parents who received Family Minds significantly increased their levels of reflective functioning as assessed with the Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire and a new Five-Minute Speech Sample procedure coded using the Reflective Functioning Scale, and revealed a tendency to show decreased levels of parenting stress on the Parenting Stress Index, while the control group showed no such improvements. These findings support the hypothesis that a short-term psychoeducational intervention may improve foster parents' ability to mentalize themselves and their children. These skills are very beneficial for foster parents, as they frequently deal with children who come into their home with challenging behaviors, attachment issues, and negative internal working models of relationships. This type of intervention has the potential to lower placement breakdowns and improve the mental health of foster children.

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