By Elisa Broussain.
It has been a beautiful twist, of life, to be working on early intervention. In the theoretical journey that I have done from psychology, it has been very rewarding to find currents and research that coincide on the full development of the human being. The theoretical support has been thickening, enriching and intersecting from Existential Analysis (EA), attachment theory, neurosciences and post-rationalism. All begin from a methodology, an intersubjective practice that validates and considers the other, not only in the psychotherapeutic treatment, but also believe that the person is formed thanks to a “you” that has preceded the “I”. In other words, all these currents consider the intrapsychic, but give a renewed importance to the inter-psychic. This last term makes explicit the fact that the psyche itself is constructed mainly by the relationships established by people, babies, children. It is quite a revolutionary fact for psychology in general. In addition, the four areas mentioned above each pose an organization of the theory itself which in all coincides in four parts. In these they define (do not determine) how each person according to the contexts, the own biology and the treatment of the main caregivers is organizing (or disorganizing) the perception, the behavior, the self-esteem, the sense of the own life and therefore also personality and relationships. EA, attachment theory, post-rationalism and neuroscience see the dynamic in the person, the plasticity of the brain and personality. They approach how experiences and reflections can change synapses, neurotransmitters, habits and a whole being-and-be-in-the-world. With all of this, the therapeutic work in relation to parenting becomes very solid.
From the postulates and research aimed at respectful upbringing, all coincide fully with the EA. It is a matter of giving the child security, protection and good treatment, which in words of the EA would be mainly the fundamental conditions of the first Fundamental Motivation: support, protection and space. With these three first conditions in play, the child’s perception of the world, its caregivers and the reflection they produce from themselves, enable it to build the fundamental trust in life. This is configured by regularities in relationships that in turn make up attachments, which become patterns that forge a personality.
But in practice what is the support? In parenting: caring, providing an adequate response to the demand, containing, telling the truth, regulating emotions, building stability by covering needs, setting schedules (and also being flexible aboutthem), anticipating interaction patterns, giving a floor (material and psychological).It is also to permit an exploration according to the child’s age, to progressively modify the limits established in the family, to re-discuss them from time to time with the children, and to be significantly available.
What is protection in practice? In parenting: fulfill the rights of the child and shelter, embrace, contain, comfort, health, show other points of view, dialogue, hygiene, a roof, flexibility itself.
What is respect in practice? In parenting: consider the son or daughter as a person, other than the parents’ own expectations, with rights, obligations, strengths and vulnerabilities, who needs another to learn, to build, another that is loving and be able to be loving with Others and himself. Respect appears as a fundamental ingredient that gives a framework to parenting. Neither permissive nor authoritarian, yes respectful; Neither intrusive nor indifferent, yes loving, not violent, yes a unique way with each son or daughter. Parents of more than one child will know how demanding it is to discover the different temperaments and to be effective both in the discipline and in the type of closeness with each son or daughter.
On the other hand, security and protection enable exploration, that is, the deployment of the being in space. This allows children to open up to the world, to meet them, to ask for help, to be able to perform better in the environment and to know themselves progressively better, if and only if safety and protection remain proportional to the risks. On the other hand, in relation to the caregivers, they go through an enormous transformation of the physical space (the home), the corporal (mainly mother) and the relational after the arrival of a child. In session we named and validated those changes that many times were not anticipated. We give reality and importance to each other’s self, to the couple, we expand the range of roles of parenthood (the educational and delimitation function tends to hegemonize other more loving roles in parenting cases in Crisis or parents with authoritarian breeding in their own childhood). Often times too, the necessary routine for all babies and children begins to dissect the like to live each of the caregivers and their relationship. Thus, recognizing what is stressful for each and knowing the other in stress and their ways of reacting and protecting themselves in situations that overflow it, they enable a contextual and comprehensive, reciprocal view.
How do we try to make conscious and put into practice all this?
At the Early Intervention Center (CIT) where I work, we serve parents and other primary caregivers of children between the ages of 0 and 6. We receive (I say “we receive” because we serve in pairs) parents with boys of all ages, but the model demonstrates its effectiveness by the perseverance of the parents regarding the changes that we agreed in session together. With early intervention, our commitment is that before a personality pattern is set in the child (largely conditioned by the treatment received by his caregivers and the different contexts in which he develops), perform a reflexive exercise with the Parents to improve everyone’s mental health. Reflection mainly involves being more aware of itself through the analysis of the treatment they give their children, thus providing tools and a theoretical framework reinforced by neurosciences (and the change reflected in the behavior of children) to prevent psychopathology. The parents arrive voluntarily or referredby the school or kindergarten. We, in addition to “early intervention”, offer a “brief intervention” where in five sessions we are analyzing the case suggesting changes, alternative views, all agreed by a team of eight mental health professionals. The interview with the parents, the observation of the child in the school or garden and a video-recording of the interaction of the family in their house, provide sufficient elements to take perspective, to know the reactivity of each member of the family in situations of stress, outline their personalities or ways of linking them that threaten or regulate them, their different levels of awareness and self-awareness, their judgment about their own upbringing, the wear and tear given by the contexts they go through and a long etcetera. The brief intervention adds a new level of demand, which for me is summarized in finding the most assertive and personalized way to each parent to take distance and thus understand how to move forward, so that they and their children are happier. Also, to modulate in them the anxiety for magical solutions.
Almost two years of therapeutic exercise in the CIT, I have been extracting some conclusions that often coincide with that of the parents themselves, after some conversations: behavior, such as symptoms Of children, are a signal, the tip of an iceberg, of a whole system of relationships that has not been seen or fully understood. Many times also, it is the reflection of the emotional climate in the house or the state of the relationship. The therapeutic work consists in illuminating through the consciousness, what was left in the darkness (feelings, situations, learned patterns, stress …) and tend in family toward good treatment, understanding, respect and consideration for each one. The idea is to change relationships before they make children more determined.
But what happens when you do not have adequate support, protection and respect in early childhood? Or when a catastrophe, a tragedy that is not repaired, which is not spoken, is presented and reduces the previous support of one’s life? What remains to be done? Mary Main when developing the theory of addiction included a category for the resilient: “secure attachment gained”. How to be able to modify an insecure or disorganized attachment and to be able to benefit from a “secured secure attachment”? In her book “Attachment” Dr. Ines Di Bártolo points out – in other words – some conditions to repair existential trust:
1.- To maintain a relationship with someone safe (or to put together security, because did you know that Security is contagious?),
2.- Consistent and time-extended psychotherapy (or a pair).
In several cases in the CIT, the brief intervention with focus on the child, becomes a natural introduction for a subsequent psychotherapy for one of the parents. Or a couple therapy or a bonding therapy with the child. Or the discharge or an accompaniment from time to time. We have had experiences with the systemic and systematic work of children and caregivers each in psychotherapy in cases as serious as those of intergenerational sexual abuse, achieving profound and definitive changes in three months.
Parenting is a hypercomplex transformation, which forces the attempt to achieve a personal and intersubjective balance as consistent as possible and the correct care of the child. A total turn in one’s life. It can lead to an existential commitment. It is also the opportunity to develop a transcendental personal position to leave as the richest inheritance that can be delivered to children and the world.
Psychology Student – UAHC
Post title © in EA Consulting – ICAE
firstname.lastname@example.orgArticle: Attachment, Early Intervention and Existential Analysis