About this event

AiMH UK Lunchtime Skills box – 12.30 – 1.30pm

Sharing practical skills for enhancing parent-infant relationships.

Skills shared can be immediately transferred to practice.

Session 1 with Joe Druce – Mentalisation skills with Parents & Infants

We are increasingly aware that the capacity to make sense of our emotional lives (mentalization) is something that develops in the context of a secure attachment, and that disruptions in early attachment relationships are likely to lead to areas of emotional vulnerability into adulthood, ranging from susceptibility to depression or anxiety at times of stress, to more severe and enduring mental health difficulties. In addition, we are also very aware that becoming a parent can be a particularly challenging time emotionally, due to the need to encounter and contain an infants very intense and primal emotions, which can trigger the attachment system of the parent and bring vulnerabilities to the fore. Consequently, it is positive that we are increasingly recognising the need to ensure that there is adequate support for parents during this crucial and sometimes turbulent period.

However, it is also true that much of what happens between a parent and their infant, although governed by the parents’ capacity to mentalize, occurs at what we might think of as an unconscious or automatic level, due to the immediacy and speed of interactions which pass back and forth in a well attuned interaction. With this in mind, although it can sometimes be helpful to encourage parents to mentalize more explicitly about both their own mental states and those of their infants, it is crucial that this is not at the expense of the more felt sense of the relationship. In this seminar we will consider the challenge of getting the balance right when supporting parents to feel more able to connect emotionally with their infants, thinking about the elements that make up the dance of attachment as well as how we can help parents to connect with the individual rhythm of their baby in a more relaxed and attuned way.

BIO – Jo Druce

Currently working as the deputy lead for personality disorder in Haringey, Joe Druce’s previous role was as a therapist at the Early Years Parenting Unit (EYPU), a specialist assessment and treatment service for parents whose mental health difficulties, primarily linked to a diagnosis of personality disorder, prevented them providing safe care to their infants. At the EYPU the focus was on adapting MBT techniques to support parents to develop their capacity to mentalize both about their own difficulties and the minds of their children, so that they could provide more consistent emotionally attuned care, which in turn enabled the development of more secure attachments. Prior to this work he worked across a range of settings including with looked after children with complex needs for Derby City Council and in child protection for the London Borough of Islington, as well as in residential childrens’ homes.

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