Upcoming Conference Presentation ‘INCORPORATING ARTS THERAPY WITH THE PEEK A BOO CLUB™ TO ENHANCE ATTACHMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES FOR MOTHER-INFANT DYADS LIVING IN REFUGE’

Emma and her colleague will be presenting at the upcoming 16th World Congress of Infant Mental Health (WAIMH), May 28th, 2018 INCORPORATING ARTS THERAPY WITH THE PEEK A BOO CLUB™ TO ENHANCE ATTACHMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES FOR MOTHER-INFANT DYADS LIVING IN REFUGE in Rome.

Abstract:

Early intervention programs with infants in refuge are ideal opportunities to support children at risk of abuse, neglect, and trauma arising from Family Violence (FV). The impact for infants is overlooked in FV organisations in Australia conceptualising infants as an extension of their mother; a mother who is traumatised, struggles to understand her child’s perspective of FV, and experienced as a frightening/frightened caregiver.

Since 2013, FV organisation, Emerge, has implemented the Peek-a-Boo Club™ (PABC) with eight groups and 30 mother-infant dyads. The PABC is an infant-led group promoting attachment, and helps to story the infant’s perspective of FV to overcome the effects exposure to FV has on children. Attachment-focused Arts Psychotherapy interventions are incorporated into the program to enhance outcomes for mother-infant dyads around attunement, mentalisation, and attachment repair.

Emerge will present a case study describing the benefits and challenges of incorporating Arts Therapy in an infant mental health group addressing two distinct issues in working with this cohort. First, the urgent need to provide effective and meaningful early intervention with dyads prioritising the mental health of the infant. Second, we consider how to maximise outcomes in the context of refuge- insecure environments that can further inhibit emotional availability in the mother-infant relationship.

The aim is to present a case study contributing to the practice knowledge of trauma-informed approaches with highly vulnerable mother-infant dyads living in refuge. We illustrate Arts Psychotherapy as a valuable addition into the Peek-a-Boo Club™ program that enhances outcomes for attachment repair in a time-limited setting.