Promoting Mentalization in Clinical Psychology at Universities: A Linguistic Analysis of Student Accounts

Maria Francesca Freda, Giovanna Esposito, Teresa Quaranta


This study investigated the structure of mentalization (Bateman & Fonagy, 2012) in a training context. The dual purpose was to evaluate the effectiveness of practicum student training and whether the Linguistic Inquiry method (Pennebaker, 2000) could be used to evaluate the three dimensions of mentalization — relational, cognitive, and emotional. The training utilized the groups and their accounts as devices and mediators to conceptualize the relationship between self-mentalizing training, the academic context and the practicum experience. Accounts from 38 Italian students pursuing master degree in Clinical, Dynamic, and Community Psychology were analyzed by LIWC software. The Wilcoxon test showed a significant increase in mentalizing words during the middle and end of the term, as compared with the beginning. The results displayed a need to promote mentalization within academic settings and indicated the value of this competence for clinical psychology.


account; mentalization; linguistic inquiry; practicum; university training

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