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In conversation with… Professor Peter Fonagy

Join us as we discuss the benefits of understanding and implementing mentalisation approaches with Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre and Professor of Psychoanalysis and Developmental Science at University College London.

As one of the UK’s leading clinical psychologists and psychoanalysts, Peter’s work has shaped contemporary practice among a wide range of professionals working with children and families. His research has demonstrated that secure parent-infant attachment facilitates children’s ability to understand their own and others’ thoughts, feelings and wishes – known as mentalisation – in turn influencing personality development and mental health.

During this conversation, we will explore how a better understanding of mentalisation can help social workers, lawyers and judges to work more effectively with children and young people and their parents. We will discuss – and help to demystify – how professionals can provide mentalising environments.

Peter will also explain how important it is for children and young people to be able to trust the professionals who give them information and advice and make decisions about their lives – and the reasons why they may not always consider professionals’ knowledge to be reliable.

Alongside his roles at the Anna Freud Centre and University College London, Peter is a Senior National Clinical Adviser on Children and Young People’s Mental Health for NHS England and has chaired major national expert groups, including two NICE Guideline Development Groups on childhood and adolescent depression and the attachment in children at the edge of care. In the US, he holds professorships at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and at Yale and Harvard Medical Schools.

Questions from the audience are welcomed before and during the discussions and all the talks will be recorded and added to the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory’s Events page and YouTube channel shortly afterwards.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory aims to find and fill knowledge gaps, highlight areas where change will have the biggest impact and foster collaboration to make that change happen. Find out more here.

This new ‘In conversation with…’ series will bring you leading thinkers, experts, practitioners and those with lived experience for frank discussions on a variety of themes related to children and families in the family justice system.

Watch the discussion

  • Headshot of Lisa Harker.
    Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • Professor Peter Fonagy
    Chief Executive
    Anna Freud Centre