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Smith, J.D. (2014). Focusing on Reflections: Mentalization and Mirroring in Brief Dynamic Therapy. Brit. J. Psychother., 30(2):212-228.

(2014). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 30(2):212-228

Focusing on Reflections: Mentalization and Mirroring in Brief Dynamic Therapy

Jonathan D. Smith

The author begins by noting the growing recognition of the contribution that addressing a client's capacity to mentalize can make to therapeutic effectiveness in short-term psychodynamic work. He outlines the developmental origins of the capacity for reflective function or mentalization in the earliest experiences of infancy and how the primary carer's changing levels of contingency to the infant's feeling states promotes the infant's development of a sense of his or her own mind as well as a sense of the minds of others as sources of the motivation of behaviour. The author compares and contrasts the concept of mentalization with that of mirroring and how the latter contributes to the realization of the self. The contribution that a focus which captures the aesthetic of a client's idiom can make to the experience of being mirrored and contained by the therapist is highlighted. The author also identifies ways in which working with the components of a focus, as it is tracked through a client's narrative, can enhance a client's capacity to mentalize. These themes are illustrated by a case example which involves complex loss and trauma resulting in unmet adult attachment needs and a diminished capacity to mentalize.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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