Microanalysis of Clinical Process in Psychoanalytic Parent-Infant Psychotherapy Addressing Relational Trauma

  • Summary

    This research project, designed by members of the Parent-Infant Project at the AFNCCF and ChAPTRe, has been awarded grants from the International Psychoanalytic Association and the American Psychoanalytic Association. The aim of the project is to examine in detail the process of Psychoanalytic Parent Infant Psychotherapy (PPIP) in cases of relational trauma, with a focus on both the verbal/ explicit and the embodied/ implicit aspects of interaction. Relational trauma occurs within the matrix of early parent-infant relationships in which the attachment figure represents for the baby both the love object and the source of threat to psychic survival. Psychoanalytic Parent Infant Psychotherapy (PPIP) focuses on understanding and working through the parent’s past and current experiences that can lead to difficulties in bonding with the baby and aligning with his developmental stage and emotional needs. It also diectly addresses the infants capacities and needs, as expressed in the session, to give meaning to his experiences and scaffold his communications to his or her parent.  In the clinical encounter, relational trauma manifests at different levels (explicitly or implicitly, verbally or in embodied ways) and in rapid transactions between parent and infant as they co-construct their interaction. The study will examine videos of PPIP from different perspectives, including microanalysis of sequences of traumagenic interactions; post-session interviews with the therapist; discourse analysis of session transcripts; analysis of parental atypical caregiving behaviours (AMBIANCE), parental reflective function,  and parental embodied mentalizing (PEM) of selected segments in the interactions, with an aim to study the instant-by-instant temporal-spatial-affective contours of live embodied interactions between the parent, the baby and the therapist as they unfold in therapy. Recruitment of participants in the study will start in the next few weeks and the study will be completed in the next twelve months.

  • Project team

    Principal Investigators:

    Evrinomy Avdi (co-PI), Tessa Baradon (co-PI)

    Research project team: 

    Michelle Sleed, Keren Amiran, Carol Broughton and Rose Spencer


    Fund for Psychoanalytic Research of the American Psychoanalytic Association and the International Psychoanalytic Association


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