From the Shadow to the Light

We report on an innovative in-patient residential recovery program that serves as a model for those who treat low-income women with substance use and psychiatric problems and their children. The case discussed details the psychotherapeutic treatment of a mother and child that was carried out within the protection of the program’s seeking safety, trauma informed model of care. The treatment demonstrates the sensitive care that is needed when working with a young child with a history of early childhood trauma and the favorable ways that holding the mother in mind freed her to be emotionally available to her son. In this situation, the therapist provided an emotionally-attuned interpersonal therapeutic relationship and created features of safety in the environment that helped the child develop an emerging reorganized protective structure to safely explore his fears. The mother and child can follow a course of recovery from traumatic experiences within the context of favorable conditions, thereby interrupting the intergenerational dynamics of early relational trauma.

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