Mentalizing, or reflective functioning, refers to the capacity to understand ourselves and others as motivated by intentional mental states, such as feelings, desires, wishes, goals and attitudes  . Mentalizing is an essential capacity to successfully navigate the social world. Impairments in mentalizing have been shown to be implicated in a wide variety of disorders and behavioural problems, ranging from psychosis to personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and conduct disorder .
Parental reflective functioning (PRF) refers to the caregiver’s capacity to reflect upon his/her own internal mental experiences as well as those of the child  . PRF is assumed to play a key role in fostering the developing infant’s own capacity for mentalizing, which in turn is important for the development of emotion regulation, a sense of personal agency, and secure attachment relationships   . The development of mentalizing is thought to depend largely on the extent to which the infant’s subjective experiences have been adequately mirrored by a trusted other, and thus PRF is likely to be an important factor influencing the development of mentalizing in children and young people.
There is increasing evidence for the effectiveness in both adults and young people of intervention programmes that are rooted in the mentalizing approach , and a focus on improving mentalizing may be a common factor in all effective psychosocial interventions . A number of interventions have also been shown to increase parental reflective functioning specifically   .