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Clin Psychol Rev. 2014 Mar;34(2):107-17. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.12.003. Epub 2013 Dec 29.

Reflective functioning: a review.

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Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 2A, 1953 Copenhagen K, Denmark. Electronic address:


Reflective functioning offers an empirically grounded framework for the assessment of mentalization. This article briefly outlines the theory of mentalization and the development of the Reflective Functioning (RF) scale (Fonagy, Target, Steele, & Steele, 1998). It then offers a review and discussion of empirical studies of parental RF regarding the role of RF in linking adult and child attachment and parental RF in the context of psychopathology. Furthermore, empirical studies on RF in relation to different psychiatric populations and to the role of RF in psychotherapy process and outcome are reviewed and discussed. Although research on RF is still relatively limited, evidence seems to support the relevance of RF as an empirical measure in the fields of attachment, psychopathology and psychotherapy research. However, the RF scale has certain limitations due to the extensiveness of the measure, which future research should take into account.


Attachment; Mentalization; Psychopathology; Psychotherapy; Reflective functioning

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