Kliniken & Institute … Kliniken Center for Psychosocial… Institute for… Research Professionalization …

Mentalisation skills in early childhood prevention services

Involved persons: Anna Georg, Sophie Hauschild, Paul Schröder-Pfeifer, Lea Kornhas, Svenja Taubner

Funding Period: 2017 to 2020

Support of this study was provided by a grant from the Nationales Zentrum Frühe Hilfen (NZFH) [National Centre for Early Prevention] which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth. NZFH is hosted by the Federal Centre for Health Education and works in collaboration with the German Youth Institute.

Home visitors working in early childhood intervention (ECI) are often challenged by difficult-to-reach families and may feel overwhelmed by the families’ problems. Mentalizing is a key skill to successfully build a working alliance and to experience professional growth when encountered with challenges in the practical work with families. Therefore, the objective of this project is to develop an evidence-based training in mentalizing skills for professionals and volunteers working as home visitors in ECI.

The project comprises a pilot feasibility study and an effectiveness study (main study). The aim of the feasibility study is to develop the training manual and to obtain first indications of the training effectiveness. The main study aims at testing the effect of the 1-day mentalizing skills training on ECI professionals’ and volunteers’ mentalizing skills and on qualities of the working relationship. The controlled within-subject design investigates the effect of the training using repeated measures within a time frame of seven weeks. A literature-based intervention serves as the control condition. Target variables are self-reported mentalizing, observer-rated mind-mindedness in five-minute speech samples, knowledge about mentalization, home visitors’ working alliance, work involvement, interpersonal reactivity, and work-related self-efficacy. In addition, we assess the satisfaction with the interventions.


Georg, A., Hauschild, S., Schröder-Pfeifer, P., Kasper, L., & Taubner, S. Mentalizing skills training for German early childhood intervention home visitors: a controlled efficacy study. Submitted.

Georg, A., Hauschild, S., Bark, C., & Taubner, S. Modulhandbuch Mentalisierungskompetenz in den Frühen Hilfen. In preparation.