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Sossin, K.M. (2002). Interactive Movement Patterns as Ports of Entry in Infant-Parent Psychotherapy: Ways of Seeing Nonverbal Behavior. J. Infant Child Adolesc. Psychother., 2(2):97-131.

(2002). Journal of Infant, Child & Adolescent Psychotherapy, 2(2):97-131

Interactive Movement Patterns as Ports of Entry in Infant-Parent Psychotherapy: Ways of Seeing Nonverbal Behavior

K. Mark Sossin, Ph.D.

When observing and describing an infant's shifting level of arousal, facial gesture, or kicking rhythm, or when appraising face-to-face social interaction, parental sensitivity, or any of the myriad other behaviors we deem developmentally and clinically relevant, what fashions the lens through which the infant-parent psychotherapist makes observations? What determines the descriptive language used? How do this lens and language influence the attributions made by the clinician?

The subject of this paper is the nature of our data: we are closely observing infants and parents and drawing clinical conclusions, but we are doing so without a shared lexicon for the nonverbal behaviors observed. Do some nonverbal behaviors have predetermined meaning? Are there dimensions and patterns of nonverbal behavior that have intrinsic links to levels of psychic functioning and individual psychological proclivities, and if so, what units of behavior are meaningful? In highlighting the value of systematic and coherent approaches to nonverbal behavior, the ways in which behaviors are often observed and identified are examined. Careful observational research has prompted significant advances in theory pertaining to the mutually influencing parent-infant intrapsychic representations of the social world (Beebe and Lachmann 1998, Fonagy 1994, Tronick 1998). Yet it seems possible that insufficient attention has been paid to the selective nature of the behaviors observed and catalogued (as well as those that are not).


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