A mother with a substance use and a psychiatric disorder who is coping with unresolved trauma often cannot be emotionally attuned to her young child without therapeutic support. Notably, during the initial clinical sessions with the dyad, it was necessary for the therapist to alleviate the mother’s symptoms of distress and free her to be emotionally available to her son. In these moments, the therapist’s own attuned affective state helped organize the mother’s mental processes and emotions so that her son could regulate his state through direct connection with the mother. This interactive regulatory process created a deep bond within the triad that reduced the mother’s and child’s intense arousal. In other words, the mother’s emotions are regulated by the therapist’s compassion and empathy. The child’s emotions are now regulated through the mother. When the child calms down the mother also calms and is able to emotionally attune to her child.


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