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Attach Hum Dev. 2010 May;12(3):193-207. doi: 10.1080/14616731003759666.

Mentalization in children exposed to parental methamphetamine abuse: relations to children's mental health and behavioral outcomes.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA. ostler@illinois.edu


This study examined the mentalization capabilities of children exposed to parental methamphetamine abuse in relation to symptom underreporting, mental health, and behavioral outcomes. Twenty-six school-aged children in foster care participated in this study. Mentalization was assessed using the My Family Stories Interview (MFSI), a semi-structured interview in which children recalled family stories about a happy, sad or scary and fun time. An established scale of the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC), a self-report measure, provided information on children's symptom underreporting. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), completed by the children's foster caregivers, assessed children's mental health and behavioral outcomes. Children with higher mentalization were significantly less prone to underreport symptoms. These children had fewer mental health problems and were rated by their foster caregivers as more socially competent. The findings underscore that mentalization could be an important protective factor for children who have experienced parental substance abuse.

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