Engaging Infants
Embodied Communication in Short-Term Infant-Parent Therapy

Paper: 978 1 78220 591 3 / $43.95
Published: December 2017  

Publisher: Karnac Books
256 pp., 6" x 9"
The book begins by describing, within a psychodynamic approach, some traits an infant may bring to an intervention, followed by descriptions of interventions in several specialized perinatal settings.

Several chapters focus on parent-infant families who have experienced considerable anxiety and depression, and those who have experienced trauma and lived borderline experiences or of mental illness. An innovative intervention which successfully engaged young parents and their infants so that most of them felt they could understand and relate to their newborn infant is next outlined. Turning to most parents of an infant in a neonatal intensive care unit who feel traumatized--which may impact on the emotional relationship with their infants--there is often a need for psychodynamic exploration before these difficulties can be modulated. With such interventions the staff become more containing and may more likely seek an intervention for a premature infant in their own right, attuned to the meaning of his or her mood and behavior.

Infant-parent therapy in pediatric contexts, infants in groups, and relating to infant and parents in the context of family violence are briefly described. Interventions where something seemed missed are detailed to guide thinking about how a therapist listens to counter-transference and to guide in intervening. The book concludes with the importance of what therapist factors such as authenticity and playfulness in the therapist-patient relationship contribute to the therapeutic alliance, including an infant’s alliance and transformational moments, as well as the transference that infants develop to a therapist, and review of factors contributing to this approach being effective.

Table of Contents:
About the Author

Part I: Engaging the Infant In Infant–Parent Therapy
1) Recognising the infant as subject
2) What an infant brings

Part II: Engaging Infants in Perinatal Settings
3) Infants and their parents in the perinatal period
4) Infants with young parents
5) Infants and their parents in neonatal intensive care units

Part III: Engaging Infants in Paediatric Settings
6) Infants and their parents in paediatric settings
7) Infants and their parents in therapy groups
8) Relating to infant and parent in the context of family violence

Part IV: Towards Understanding Successful Outcomes
9) Countertransference in infant–parent therapy
10) The therapeutic alliance, the presence of the therapist, and transformational moments
11) Responding to infants and interpreting transference
12) Revisiting mechanisms of change in infant–parent therapy


Reviews & Endorsements:
"This book should be read by every professional who works with children and their families, and also, most particularly, by psychotherapists and psychoanalysts working with patients of any age. Engaging Infants reasserts the conviction that besides enhancing our capacity for observation, child analysis and the Bick infant observation method enrich our entire clinical practice. Drawing from her extensive experience in the field, Frances Thomson-Salo offers us a book on clinical practice with very young children in different contexts. Based on this experience, she suggests a form of therapeutic intervention with infants and their parents that can become a turning point in these children’s development."
- Virginia Ungar, MD, President of the International Psychoanalytical Association
"In this inspiring book, Frances Thomson-Salo describes the pioneering work she has done in infant–parent psychotherapy, both individually and with her colleague Campbell Paul. Increasingly, around the world, the value of having the baby in the room is being recognised. Among the imaginative clinical paths this book offers, it takes us out of our comfort zone of talking to parents over the baby’s head. We may be used to noticing the baby’s reactions to what is talked about, but Thomson-Salo goes much further. She is courageous in showing how to address the baby directly, how to face the desperate emotions that some parents and their babies experience, and how a momentary meeting of minds can lead to change. This work can be transformational, and the detailed sensitive writing with clinical examples in this book is transformational for the reader. As you read it you will imagine yourself able to take on new levels of communication. You will never find yourself ignoring the baby again!"
- Dilys Daws, PhD, Hon Consultant Child