Psychopathology: Theory and Practice
04 June 2020 – Dr Maria Pozzi Monzo
Neurodevelopmental psychotherapy studies the birth, the developing and the maturing brain and nervous system of the infant. It explores both the links with the environment, i.e. with the carer’s capacity to attune with the infant as from utero and the containing and transforming bonding relationship with her after birth. Parents and babies are seen together to explore their relationships and where things have become stuck.
Mindfulness consists in “paying attention in a purposeful way in the present moment and no-judgementally” (J Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living 1990). It is a popular, highly researched intervention with many applications that are demonstrated to have clear effects on the immune system and brain functioning. It can reduce stress and depression and is used also to treat addictions and reduce criminality. Mindfulness, as I use it in my work, guides parents to tune in finely with their own feelings, sensations and thoughts as well as with their babies, held in arms or observed on a cushion on a mat, where we usually position ourselves during sessions. This mindful, observing stance helps to foster better bonding and healthy separateness, freeing the baby from parental anxieties and projections.
This approach combined with more traditional parent-infant psychotherapy, is unique and innovative as it is also informed by neurodevelopmental studies and discoveries.