Cambridge Child Therapy | Therapy For Families

Therapy for Families

Mentalization Based Treatment for Families (MBT-F) is an intervention for families with children aged between 7 and 18 years of age. MBT-F focuses on helping you and your family to understand each other’s ways of thinking and feeling. Research and experience shows that once this happens, communication and the ability to solve problems together will improve in the family.

The service offers 6 - 10 meetings, usually 2-4 weeks apart. Families may come to MBT-F with a whole range of difficulties including: 

  • Distressed or troubled children and teens
  • Tensions in family relationships
  • Coping with loss and bereavement
  • Difficulties with making or keeping friends
  • Impact of divorce or separation on children
  • Angry outbursts and tantrums
  • Children experiencing anxiety, phobias and/or obsessional thoughts and feelings
  • Family stresses related to gender identity

What is MBT-F approach?

The main focus is on the relationships within your family. In the meeting with your family the therapist can think about any troubles you are experiencing. The  aim is to provide a calm, non-judgemental setting, where the therapist will invite everyone to think about their own feelings and those of other family members in order to find more positive ways of getting along together.

What Happens in a MBT-F session?

Sessions are a chance to look at ways in which your family thinks and feels. Through looking at your own thinking and its impact upon your feelings and also how you think and feel about other family members, many families find they are able to get back on track. It’s a bit like seeing ourselves from the outside and seeing others from the inside. For some families this will involve mainly talking but for others it might involve playing games or taking a playful approach to exploring thinking and feeling and taking other’s perspectives.

Advantages of MBT-F

Even though it may be a particular child you are concerned about, working with the family as a whole may help to resolve their difficulties, for as family members begin to think and feel differently it provides the child with new ways of relating to others. As MBT-F is a short-term intervention this suits many families who cannot make the practical and financial commitment of longer term individual therapy for their child.

Research into MBT-F


MBT-F has been developed by the Anna Freud Centre in London who are specialists in helping children, adolescents and their families. Findings from research into MBT-F indicate that 6 to 10 meetings can make a real difference for the majority of families and that they find it supportive, insightful and helpful. For more information see 


Clair Lewoski is trained to Practitioner Level in MBT-F with the Anna Freud Centre.