Michael Goddard, Psy.D., is a 2020 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Theodore Ellenhorn, PhD, ABPP, Committee Chair
  • Vince Pignatiello, PsyD, Committee Member
  • Megan Turchetti, PsyD, Committee Member


mentalization, group therapy, drama therapy, preadolescence

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This dissertation is an innovative intervention design to improve mentalization in preadolescents. The intervention presented is conducted in a group format and using techniques drawn from drama-based therapy. I have provided a brief literature review on mentalization, and relevant topics in group treatment and drama therapy. I have outlined key concepts from mentalization theory including: (a) the development of the self, (b) its relationship to attachment, (c) psychic equivalence and pretend mode functioning, (d) marked-affect mirroring, (e) the various facets of mentalization, and (f) mentalization treatment with children. After outlining these concepts, I discuss psychodynamic group treatment, mentalization-based group therapy, and the mechanism of change in group treatment from a neurobiologically informed perspective. From there I discuss concepts from play and drama therapy relevant to work with preadolescents. The topics covered in the literature review are used as a basis for an mentalization-based intervention appropriate for preadolescents. The argument is made that drama therapy is an appropriate vehicle through which this age group can be engaged as they are often regarded as too old for the typical toys of play therapy, but not yet ready for an adult approach to group treatment. Following the literature review, an intervention design is proposed. The proposal offers guidance on the structure of the group intervention, approach taken by the therapist, and the format of a typical session. Finally, limitations, future directions, and reflections on conducting this research are discussed.


Michael Goddard

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-2117-5590