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Mentalizing Therapeutic Landscapes: The Benefit for Mental Health

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2012
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of the Image
Issue number4
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)87-94
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The concept of ‘mentalising’ is applied to a viewer’s experience of the therapeutic landscape to provide better understanding of the ways in which ‘mentalising’ the landscape enhances mental wellbeing. Central to the paper is the significance of the viewer’s prior acquaintance with images of the therapeutic landscape preceding a direct encounter. Representations in the form of photographs, film, advertising, websites etc. enhance the comprehensibility of the place and prompt the viewer’s
attachment in ways that generate psychotherapeutic advantage. The paper is organised into three sections: Section one explains the idea of mentalising from its base in psychoanalytic theory and covers examines the development of emotional self-awareness fram the interaction between the infant and caregiver (Winnicott 1967). The theory of emotional mirroring, using the social bio-feedback mechanism
(Gergely, Watson 1996) is explored in this context to demonstrate how particular representations of manageable affective states are acquired. Section two advances the theme through more detailed exploration
of therapeutic landscapes as a secure base (Bowlby 1988). Section three draws together attachment theory and mentalising with ways in which individuals can achieve better understanding of themselves and others. Improved understanding of the self and self-regulation and empathy with others establishes the possibility that such landscapes can advance shared interests between people or groups.