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Psychodynamic Interventions In Early Childhood Mental Health

2445 words - 10 pages

Psychodynamic Interventions in Early Childhood Mental Health: IPP and CPP
Towards Parenting the Child in Front of You by Integrating What is Behind You
by
Ali Freedman
May 2011

Advanced Infant Preschool Mental Health
Dr. Lily Cosico-Berge

Psychodynamic Interventions in Early Childhood Mental Health: IPP and CPP
Towards Parenting the Child in Front of You by Integrating What is Behind You

Needless to say, psychodynamic interventions with the infant and preschool population do not involve putting the infant on a couch, allowing cathartic free expression, and offering the caricature-like “mmm” and “tell me more” passive encouragement of comic book psychoanalysis.
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This and related research examined what made some previously traumatized children recapitulate that trauma as parents and what mitigated others from doing so.
The hypothesis and research yielded the theory on which IPP is based; that isolation and repression of trauma often yields parents who unfortunately repeat the trauma through identification/projective identification whereas those who cope with the trauma and integrate it are better able to avoid repetition in their parenting. These thoughts are comprehensively summarized by Alicia Lieberman, a contemporary leader in the field, and her colleagues. “Parental attribution and their unconscious substrate, projective identifications, are facets of the parent’s working model of the self and of attachment relationship that are transmitted to and internalized by the child in the course of day-to-day interactions.” (Lieberman et al., 1997; 2000; Silverman & Lieberman, 1999)
Infant Parent Psychotherapy views the relationship between the parent and child as the patient, the intervention and primary target of interpretation is the parent’s history and relationship template, and the infant’s mental health is the primary goal. The infant’s mental health would be supported by offering an affirming and attuned caregiver for a relationship partner to support the development of a secure attachment and an evolving sense of self and ego development for the child. Infant Parent Psychotherapy is intended for children zero to three years of age with the optimal time being when the baby is under twelve months. This period when the baby is typically less mobile and has less expressive and receptive language allows for greater exploration and focus on the parent’s ghosts, attributions, history, and projective identification to be worked through in the context of and the supported presence of the baby so the clinical work can always be steered towards optimal nurturing environment for the baby in relationship. The work is in refining the baby as its own unique entity and as the mother’s own baby rather than as a symbol for the mother of past parenting and relationships - bumps and bruises included and magnified. The goal is to unlock, uncover, and address the mother’s issues with the baby present.
Infant Parent Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective in several research projects. One citation by Lieberman, Weston, and Pawl (1991) reported, among other things, mothers with anxious attachments showed improved responsiveness to the child’s cues and increased active engagement between the mother-child dyad after participating in Infant Parent Psychotherapy.
Child Parent Psychotherapy is an extension of Infant Parent Psychotherapy and is a manualized evidence-based treatment developed by Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn (2005). It is primarily informed by attachment and psychoanalytic theory and also utilizes cognitive behavioral and social learning theory. Treatment with...

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