Relational psychophysiology: Lessons from mother-nfant physiology research on dyadically expanded states of consciousness

Jacob Ham, Ed Tronick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors illustrate how their work on mother-infant “relational psychophysiology” might inform psychotherapy research. They examined psychophysiology in 18 mother-infant dyads (infants’ age: 5 months) during normal interaction and a still-face perturbation. They measured respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) as an index of emotion regulation and explored whether skin conductance (SC) concordance, previously linked to therapist empathy, occurs in mothers and infants. During the still-face episode, SC concordance correlated to infant negative engagement. Upon reengagement, when mothers often soothe their infants, concordance instead correlated to behavioral synchrony, an index of maternal sensitivity. Furthermore, maternal RSA became correlated to infant negative engagement. These findings suggest that a mother trying to calm her infant calms herself physiologically and her sensitivity on a behavioral level becomes coherent physiologically. Implications for psychotherapy research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-632
Number of pages14
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Philosophical/theoretical issues in therapy research
  • Technology in psychotherapy research and training

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Relational psychophysiology: Lessons from mother-nfant physiology research on dyadically expanded states of consciousness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this