A Swedish study, involving mothers with troubled infants, showed improvements in mother’s depression and her relationship with her baby following a two-month course of two or three times a week psychoanalytic treatment for both mother and infant.
I recently came across a link to this interesting study, reported in Science Daily last year. The study followed 80 mothers who had sought help at Child Health Centres, nursing centres or parenting internet sites. All of the mother-infant pairs received support from the centres, but half were also assigned to joint psychoanalytic treatment at the Mother-Infant Psychoanalytic Project of Stockholm. The treatment lasted about two months, with two to three sessions a week.
The treatment provided a safe environment in which the mother and her baby could express how they felt. With the help of the analyst the mother could come to understand her baby’s ‘difficult’ behaviour as a form of communication, rather than as an attack upon her or a result of her failure. In this safe place the mother and baby could finally find each other.
In follow-ups six months later, mothers who had received the psychoanalytic treatment showed improvements in their depression, better relationships with their babies and a greater sensitivity to their baby’s signals, as compared to mothers who had only received the support of the Child Health Centres.