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Jacobsen, M.N. Ha, C. Sharp, C. (2015). A Mentalization-Based Treatment Approach to Caring for Youth in Foster Care. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 14(4):440-454.

(2015). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 14(4):440-454

A Mentalization-Based Treatment Approach to Caring for Youth in Foster Care

Maja Nørgård Jacobsen, M.Sc., Carolyn Ha, M.A. and Carla Sharp, Ph.D.

Children and adolescents in foster care settings are at risk for development of emotional and behavioral problems due to a history of traumatic experiences combined with constant changes in their living environment with frequent shifts in caregivers, creating challenges in forming secure attachments. There has been a wealth of research evidence highlighting the importance of secure attachments in promoting the development of healthy mentalization abilities (Fonagy et al., 1991; Fonagy & Target, 2006), which facilitate the processing of traumatic experiences (Sharp, Fonagy, & Allen, 2013). Mentalization is the ability to think about and interpret self and others in terms of mental states (Luyten & Fonagy, 2009). Given the established link between traumatic experiences including child maltreatment with impaired mentalization abilities (Allen, 2013; Fonagy & Luyten, 2009; Ensink et al., 2014a; Ensink et al., 2014b), a mentalization-based approach to the treatment and care of youth is important to implement in foster care settings. This paper provides an outline and description of a mentalization-based treatment approach along with several clinical tools for caregivers and staff members to implement in the treatment and care of youth in foster care settings.

[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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