Mentalization, Intersubjectivity, Attachment: Concepts and Clinical Implications

Presents: Dr Stephen Seligman, D.M.H, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. Author of the book 'Relationships in Development: Infancy, Intersubjectivity, Attachment' (Routledge)


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Pre-recorded online course for self-study, in English

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You will have access to the material for FOUR months from the time of purchase
Location: Virtual Campus



Speaker: Stephen Seligman, D.M.H

Dr Stephen Seligman, D.M.H, is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco; Joint Editor-in-Chief of Psychoanalytic Dialogues; Training and Supervising Analyst at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California; and Clinical Professor at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis. Dr. Seligman has recently authored Relationships in Development: Infancy, Intersubjectivity, Attachment (Routledge), and is co-editor of the American Psychiatric Press’ Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: Core Concepts and Clinical Practice.

Course sescription


The concepts of mentalization, intersubjectivity and attachment can be very helpful in psychotherapy practice. Yet there is much uncertainty and even confusion about them. This course aims to bring greater clarity and depth to each and draws out their clinical applications.

The course begins with an “executive summary” of the history and current status of attachment theory, including the categories of organized and disorganized attachment and the Adult Attachment Interview, including new developmental findings.

The concept of mentalization will be elaborated. Many colleagues think this means something like “having ideas.” But there is more to it. Mentalization refers to a crucial capacity and developmental achievement—becoming aware that other people have minds of their own. This means that there can be different views of the same thing, the same situation, and even the same person; that how you see the world depends on your perspective, rather than that your view is the only one. This is having a “theory of mind”–both one’s own and those of others. One clinical implication here is that interpretations will often backfire with patients who have not achieved this capacity,

This brings us to intersubjectivity. Recognizing that one’s mind is one among many means that there is a difference between one’s own subjectivity what common sense calls “objective reality,” and also a difference from the subjectivity of other people’s minds. So, this is a basic change in how it feels to be someone: The “mentalizing” child—or patient—is now living in a world in which making contact with others means finding a way to bridge these differences—navigating the space between subjects–inter-subjectivity. This approach is different from some that emphasize intersubjectivity as a kind of harmonious communication. Intersubjectivity can also be full of mismatches and multiple ways of organizing this space between subjectivities. We will apply this to how to help patients who struggle in this area.

We will also discuss how trauma interferes with these developments, affecting this perspective-taking and importantly, regulating strong emotions. Some of the most effective interventions in different psychotherapeutic approaches–psychodynamic, DBT, CBT—converge in helping with these problems.

Learning Goals

After this course the participants will be able to:

  •  Compare and contrast common elements in different psychotherapeutic approaches: psychodynamic, DBT, CBT, etc.
  • Measure observable dynamics of secure base behavior (in psychotherapy)
  • Outline the relationship between developing attachment and separation anxiety in development and psychotherapy
  • Formulate practical applications to categories of organized attachment in psychotherapy practice with adults and children (secure/avoidant/preoccupied)
  • Assess patients’ capacity for “mentalization” in formulating interventions
  • Describe three effects of trauma/fear in impeding regulating strong emotions and self-reflection.
  • Evaluate fundamental elements necessary to formulate interventions in cases with “borderline” features and/or formal BPD diagnoses using conceptions of mentalization and intersubjectivity.
  • Design 3 strategies to improve their ability to track patients’ capacity to understand that other people’s perspectives on a variety of matters are substantially difference and worth considering in building a model of their worlds, especially their interpersonal worlds.
  • Demonstrate a reduced frequency of making psychoanalytic interpretations that patients are not prepared to receive.
  • Critique the use emerging conceptualizations of intersubjectivity in clinical practice

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  • I agree to use the presented videos and/or audios solely for purposes of my training and education as a mental health practitioner.

Discounts available


Available for former students of Four Cycles Institute
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(25% discount)

Members of professional associations

Available for Members of professional associations (BPS, BACP, UKCP, EABP, ESTD, COPs in Spain).
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Available for residents in Latin America.
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(30% discount)

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