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

This project aims to examine in detail the process of therapy in psychoanalytic parent-infant psychotherapy (PPIP) with a focus on the micro-processes that constitute therapeutic interaction and bring about positive change.  

PPIP is a psychoanalytic, attachment-informed therapy that 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 their developmental stage and emotional needs. It also directly addresses the infant’s capacities and needs, as expressed in the session, to give meaning to their experiences and scaffold their communications to their parent.  

We have developed a systematic methodology for studying the therapeutic encounter in a clinically relevant manner, which we have termed ‘layered analysis’. The method is informed by the microanalytic tradition and the importance of assuming a ‘micro-gaze’ when examining implicit nonconscious exchanges in therapy. We select key interactive events to code and analyse, including the therapist’s clinical narrative and a post-session interview. Our methods and approach help us understand the contribution of all participants (infant-parent-therapist) in the emergent systemic dynamics in the room.    

The first phase of our work was funded by the International Psychoanalytic Association and the American Psychoanalytic Association and focused on cases of relational trauma.  We were able to explore processes of rupture (where trauma is enacted between participants in the session) and repair. More recently, we have been exploring the potential of the method to be deployed in clinical training and supervision, in collaboration with a group of PPIP clinicians. 

Chief investigators: Professor Evrinomy Avdi, Tessa Baradon

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

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