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Musitano, J. Rosenman, A. (2012). Separate and Connected: A Side-by-Side Model for Intervening with Mother-Child Dyads in Small Groups. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 11(2):96-112.

(2012). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 11(2):96-112

Separate and Connected: A Side-by-Side Model for Intervening with Mother-Child Dyads in Small Groups

Joan Musitano and Alice Rosenman

When a woman becomes a mother, a profound psychic reorganization takes place, changing her life forever. Many new mothers experience overwhelming feelings, including anxiety, confusion, and self-doubt, especially if they have or have had a problematic relationship with their own mother. This article describes a model for working with mothers and their infant or toddler in small groups of four to six mother-child pairs in order to reduce anxiety within the dyad by facilitating affect regulation and mentalization. The room is set up in such a way that as the process unfolds and according to the age of the children, a parent group and a children's group run side by side, separate and interconnected. Through the gradual development of trust between all the participants—parents, children, and staff—and through many applications of the concepts of holding, play, space, and containment, anxious mothers and their children achieve a degree of internal and physical separation that allows for exploring and reflecting upon projections, identifications, and attributions. As a result, maternal attunement is enhanced and attachments are strengthened.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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