Mother-child psychotherapy is a relationship-based clinical practice that is appropriate when the mother is depressed and battling substance use and the child has a history of traumatic stress that jeopardizes a secure attachment . The therapist’s primary objective is to strengthen the attachment relationship between the child and mother and improve developmental outcomes. This clinical approach demonstrates the sensitive care that is needed when working with the dyad and the favorable ways that holding the mother in mind frees her to be emotionally available to the child.
In this kind of psychotherapy, the therapist attends to both the mother’s and child’s emotions, and to their relationship while considering the mother’s mental health and substance use treatment. Essential to this practice is for the therapist to notice and reinforce positive interactions between the mother and child by remaining mindful and emotionally attuned to the mother. This support and attunement will help to alleviate the mother’s symptoms of distress so she can be more present and available to help her child organize emotional and intellectual responses necessary to adjust to life stressors.