The School of Arts & Sciences

Pia Tohme

Pia Tohme Khalaf is a visiting assistant professor of clinical psychology in the Department of Social Sciences. She graduated with a PhD from University College London, investigating parental mentalizing capacities with regards to their adolescent identical twins and its effects on attachment security.

Dr. Tohme Khalaf is trained in the Approach to Parenting Teenagers from the Open Door Young People’s consultation services and in Mentalization Based Therapy for Children and Adolescents, as well as its application in a school setting, from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London. She works in private practice with children, adolescents and their parents, based on attachment and mentalizing principles. She is also a preschool consultant psychotherapist.

Her main research interests focus on the cross-cultural application of the construct of attachment in Lebanon, as well as the role played by mentalizing in our culture, in promoting healthy development from infancy through to adolescence. She also conducts research at Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf, focusing on theory of mind in young children and mentalizing in adolescents with hearing difficulties.

Selected Publications



Ongoing projects

The literature has consistently highlighted a delay in the development of theory of mind in deaf and hard-of-hearing children. This has been explained by the lack of communication between parents and their children due to delayed language in deaf children and a lack of common communication between them. Later studies have put maternal state talk and mentalizing skills, fostered in the context of a secure attachment, at the forefront in attempting to explain individual differences in the development of theory of mind in deaf children.

Two studies are currently being conducted:

This study aims at investigating adolescent attachment using the Arabic version of the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment – Revised (IPPA-R). This scale has been selected as no other scale measuring attachment in adolescence has been validated in Arabic. The IPPA-R has been shown to predict many psychological outcomes in adolescence and has a unique value in that it differentiates between attachment relationships to parents as well as peers. We hope to look at the role of insecure attachment in predicting anxiety and depression.

Autism is described as a holder of a ‘broad phenotype’, with findings that individuals can present themselves with mild aspects of autistic-like traits, such as emotional, social and communicative difficulties without fitting the diagnostic criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This study uses the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), a questionnaire devised to assess features of the broad phenotype in adults, to note the prevalence of autistic traits among the general Lebanese population and to assess its correlation with depression, anxiety, Reflective Functioning, and Quality of Life in the MENA region.

This study aims at further validating a new measure of parental mentalizing, the Five Minute Speech Sample (FMSS) procedure. This method is innovative as it requires parents to discuss their relationship with their child for 5 minutes based on four short questions, recorded with or without the presence of an interviewer. This procedure was highlighted as important as it might allow the parents more freedom in speech, without fear of being judged or observed. We also hope to investigate the relationship between parental mentalizing and attachment.

This study aims at investigating psychology, social work and medicine students’ attitudes towards the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Lebanon. We hope to look at the relationship between these attitudes and constructs such as mentalizing, attachment security and religiosity. This is seen as primordial as it allows to evaluate the perceptions of young adults towards a minority group still considered controversial in our society.

This study aims at analyzing the psychometric properties of the Arabic version of the Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (RFQ). This scale has been shown to predict a myriad of psychological disorders. We hope to compare scores on the RFQ’s two subscales (Certainty and Uncertainty about mental states) between a normative sample and a sample presenting Borderline Personality Disorder traits.

Academic degrees

Copyright 1997–2020 Lebanese American University, Lebanon.
Contact LAU | Feedback