About this course

This conference, organised by Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in collaboration with Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research (ChAPTRe), examines how the multimodal microanalytic approach to capturing the rich complexity of the infant-caregiver interaction, as developed by Stern, Beebe and others, can be used for research as well as applied to the therapeutic process itself – with infants, children, and adults.

Morning: Research: Mother and Infant Urgent Engagement at Four Months in the Wake of Trauma and Loss: 9/11 Pregnant Widows.

Children are highly vulnerable to parental trauma, yet they are often forgotten in a disaster. We documented extensive effects of the 9/11 trauma on mothers who were pregnant and widowed on September 11, 2001 and their infants at 4-6 months. The findings suggest intense maternal and infant efforts at engagement. We documented greater efforts at visual engagement and re-engagement in 9/11 dyads, and heightened responsivity to the other’s gaze. The facial affect range was muted in both 9/11 mothers and their infants. Both partners had difficulty tolerating moments of being visually separate, and moments of negative affect. This vigilant, hyper-contingent, high arousal engagement is one central mode of transmission of the trauma to the infants. Infant visual vigilance to moments of maternal negative faces suggests a second central mode of transmission. Although psychoanalytic theory assumes, and clinical case studies illustrate, devastating effects of trauma in infancy, this work constitutes a rare empirical documentation of the details of the effects of one such catastrophic trauma on mother-infant communication in infancy. The findings have direct relevance for clinical intervention.

Afternoon: Adult Psychotherapy for a Traumatized Patient.


Psychoanalysis must concern itself with the face, particularly with respect to the early disorders of the self, because of the central importance of the face of the other in the formation of self-feeling. In the afternoon session, Dr. Beebe will present an adult treatment case. After many years of treatment, the chief therapist and the patient engaged Dr Beebe as a concurrent bimonthly therapist. The face of Dr. Beebe, but not the face of the patient, is videotaped during psychotherapy sessions. Patient and therapist then together review segments of the videotaped sessions, collaboratively observing and thinking together, translating back and forth between the dyadic verbal narrative and the therapist’s nonverbal action dialogue, particularly the therapist’s facial expressions, but also hand and head movements. They observe Dr. Beebe responding to the patient in many different moods and moments. The structure of this treatment provides a rich forum for reflective functioning for both partners. The case illustrates how the introduction of a rarely used modality in adult work, video feedback, helped to catalyze a deepening psychoanalytic psychotherapy process. Dr. Beebe will show recent sessions which capture recent progress in the case which has now been ongoing for the past decade.

Who is this conference suitable for?

The conference is suitable for clinicians, practitioners, researchers and academics with an interest in how relationships are constituted and where they may lead from infancy to adulthood.

Special offer

We are also running a workshop on The Microanalytic Approach and its Application to Clinical Process in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy with Infants and their Parents (PPIP) on Friday, 3rd May 2019. You can book a combined place on the conference and workshop at a reduced £359 fee (discount of £40).