Two bond between the mother and the

Two theorist that I chose that have a lot of similarities
that focus on the bond between the child
and the mother is the theorist John Bowlby and Margaret Mahler. They both talk
about the bond between the mother and the child but in different theories. John
Bowlby’s theory is attachment theory as Margaret Mahler’s theory is separation-individuation theory. Both theories
expose the fundamentals that complementarity the superior strengths of each
other. Both theories were formed to assist professionals and other individuals
to understand the role of involvement in the development of mental
representations. “Mahler paid close clinical attention to inner mental states and
their evolution, while Bowlby searched for behavioural correlated that could
lead themselves to empirical observation and inferences about internal
representation” (Coates, 2012).  This means that although both of them have the
main focus is the bond between the mother and the child, their theories are
still different as one is focused on clinical attention and their emotions and
the other is focusing on behavioural correlation.

John Bowlby’s theory is called Attachment theory. Attachment
is a way a child bond with the mother or caregiver.
Attachment is a profound and permanent emotional bond that joins one individual
to another across time and space. Touch and voice is a way of attachment that a
child receives from the mother
(Ainsworth,1973; Bowlby, 1969). John Bowlby in 1952 wrote a paper to the World
Health Organisation which recommended that maternal deprivation might have the main cause of numerous emotional, social
and intellectual disorders. One of the main principles
in Bowlby’s theory is that there is a critical period for attachment to be
formed. This period is between the age of 6 months and 3 years that are
critical for attachment formation.

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Margaret Mahler’s theory is called Separation-Individuation Theory. Margaret Mahler’s theory is, on
child development which specifies on the relationship between the mother and
the child. In her study on separation-individuation
is considered as the most important of
consistent focus, specifically from the mother during the first three years of
the child’s life. This reaches the goal of raising children to grow and be
successful, adaptable adults (Grace, 2013).

In both theories stated that the main bonding of the child
and the mother is critical until the age
of 3 and this shows one of the similarities between these two theories. In the
field of attachment and bonding, it is widely acknowledged that what occurs in
the beginning of the person’s life in terms of relationship has an influence on
the brain development and is important to secure attachment (Schore, 2003).

According to Bowlby,
there are 4 stages of attachment that are:

·        
Pre-attachment Phase (Birth – 6 Weeks)

·        
“Attachment in Making” Phase (6 Weeks – 6 to 8 Months)

·        
“Clear Cut” Attachment Phase (6-8 Months to 18 Months-2 Years)

·        
Formation Of Reciprocal Relationship (18 Months – 2 Years and on) (Henniger, 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for Mahler theory,
there are:

·        
Normal Autistic Phase: Birth to 1 Month

·        
Normal Symbiotic Phase: 1 to 5 Months

·        
Sub-phase One: Differentiation – 5 to 10 Months

·        
Sub-phase Two: Practicing – 10 to 16 Months

·        
Sub-phase Three: Rapprochement – 16 to 24 Months

·        
Sub-phase Four: Consolidation and Object
Constancy – 24 to 36 Months

 

Mahler broke down the stages from the birth to 10 months in
three phases as Bowlby only has 2 phases. In Mahler theory, the first phase Birth to 1 month is a Normal Autistic phase. Normal Autistic phase is
when a newborn child is not aware of his
surrounding except his/her needs. At this phase, the mother has to be available
at all times as to reach the baby’s needs and introduce affectionate and caring (Grace, 2013). Compared to
Bowlby’s theory, Bowlby also has this phase that is called Preattachment phase that
is between birth to 2 months of age. This is very similar to Mahler’s theory as
this phase is when the child makes little difference between people in their
area. Infect the baby turns toward the people and also follow them with their
eyes, also they are more contact when others are nearby (Henniger,
2014).
Both Bowlby and Mahler agree that from Birth to 1 -2 months the child is not bonding
with the mother or caregiver but he is more self-centred.

In Mahler theory, the second
phase is Normal Symbiotic phase from 1 to 5 months where the child starts to learn his/her surroundings and starts to
develop the bond with his/her mother or main person that takes care of the
child. At this phase, the child starts to
develop trust as their needs are being met such as positive incentives such as
smiling and relief of discomfort such as feeding punctually when hungry etc…,
this helps build the basis for security
and confidence (Grace, 2013). This is helpful in
therapeutic play as according to Axline the first principle is to develop a
warm, friendly relationship with the child and this happens when a bond and a
good trust relationship is being built (Axline, 1986). Infect according to
Schaefer has observed that playful interactions consist of touch and smiling,
which are the most natural and enjoyable ways to form a sort of bonding and
attachment with the child in the playroom (Schaefer, 1993).
As for Bowlby’s theory is Attachment-in-the-making
phase from 2 months to 6 months of age. At this stage,
the child is still interested in other people but s/he starts to be more keen
in their reactions to their primary caregivers, that provide for their basic
needs (Henniger, 2014). In this phase of age, both theorists
agree that the child starts building some
sort of bonding with the primary caregiver.

Bowlby as one phase between the age of 6 months to 2 years
and Mahler has three sub-phases, the first sub-phase is between the age of 5 to
10 months, second sub-phase is between the age of 10 to 16 months and the third
sub-phase is between the age 1 -2 years. Bowlby’s theory at this phase is
called Clear-cut attachment which the toddler starts to bond more with the
primary caregiver.  Although they continue exploring the
environment around them, they carry the attached individual as a secure base to
be able to move out to network with other individuals or things. At this phase
the bond between the primary caregiver and the child are strong. It will be
very difficult for the child to be separated from the attached persons. At this
stage, the toddler starts to have anxiety and concerns when there
are strangers nearby (Grace, 2013).

As for Mahler’s theory,
one of the sub-phase is differentiation. At this stage, the baby starts to look for the primary caregiver more and
s/he is more interested in the outside world. At this phase, the parents start to
notice the baby’s first signs of separation anxiety. During this time, the
child will continually look for the mother when they are doing other things
such as playing as a reassurance that primary caregiver is still present. Frequently,
babies try to express interest in the environment around them, when they feel
comfortable and safe in their caregiver’s hands. In this phase, the mother will be accessible to help
the baby’s emotional well- being and while it first acts about this time (Grace, 2013).

The second sub-phase of Mahler’s theory is Practicing. At
this phase, the child’s mobility increases
and so they start to explore the environment independently.  Still they are not ready to separate from the
mother, as when they are crawling or start walking, they separate for a bit but
still, they go running back to their
mother for comfort and assurance. At this phase,
the child starts having play time independently but they are comfortable
playing only when the mother is within the child’s view. It is important that
the mother leaves her child to begin the level of independence and leave them
to explore, still, she needs to stay nearby so that to provide her baby with the ability to enjoy him/herself in their
growing world. Mahler describes this as “hatching” as at this phase the child
starts to build his individualisation, as the child starts to have a basic sense of self and not directly connected
with his/her caregiver (Grace, 2013). This is very
helpful for me in therapeutic play as this is how Axline principle describes,
to let the child direct his/her actions or conversations and leave them to lead
us the way as the therapist follow (Axline, 1986). Leaving the child
to explore but the therapist is near the child is the way when the mother is
near the child but leave them independently to explore play and express their
feelings. This happens as the child has a good bond with us and are building
their trust with us therapists. This is very helpful for me in therapeutic play since the value of psychotherapy is based on therapeutic
relationship, the therapeutic play
focuses on an interactive relationship
which offers the chance of greater attachment security for children that
suffers from interpersonal trauma. Also,
a benefit of therapeutic play is that it consists of therapeutic powers of play
is attachment and bonding (Malchiodi & Crenshaw, 2014).

The third phase is Rapprochement.
At this phase, the children will be a confusing
group. As at one time, they don’t
want their mother’s care or wishes and at the next,
they are nervously clinging to their mother’s arm. According to Mahler this is
called “ambitendency” and explains that
this is why the behaviour where the toddler’s
sometimes conflicted their desires and needs. During these months, the
children start noticing that they are individuals, and they start to distinct from their mother, which is both a terrifying and scary discovery. At this age,
they continue taking pleasure in exploring
their atmosphere, but during this phase, the growth comes from socialising with other
children and people. They start imitating others and the tendency is that they want what others have and they will take it by
force. Mahler observed in toddlers that they often become a bit low key when they are not close to their mothers and they might withdraw a bit in themselves. At this stage, the children learn
that their emotional needs are not automatically sensed and so they become
demanded mother’s attention. When they don’t get their way, they started to be
frustrated that results to temper tantrums (Grace, 2013). In my opinion this phase, Mahler breaks the phases better than
Bowlby in my opinion. Mahler in this phases brings up how toddlers become more
individual as Bowlby states that the child will be more bonded with the primary
caregivers.

Mahler theory in the last phase that is called consolidation
and Object Constancy. At around the age of 2, children start to be more
comfortable to distinct from their mothers, as they recognise that they will reappear
and this is called object constancy. This makes the child accept that they are distinctive
from their mothers without nervousness, allowing the child to involve alternatives
without the mother being present (Grace, 2013).  As for Bowlby,
this phase is called Goal- corrected partnership, as from 2 years of age, they
start to develop relations with other people that are more complex and that
start to distinguish the goals and strategies of the close individual. In this
phase, the child starts to focus on their needs that are being met and their
attachments are a rather one-sided relationship. Gradually, these corporations
mature, and the increased chances for
mutual relations value both the child and the adult (Henniger,
2014).
 Mahler focuses
more on the feelings and emotions of the child while Bowlby focuses more on the relationships and the
bonding between the child and other individuals.

Both Mahler and Bowlby although they have a lot of
similarities and they have also differences they both thought me the importance
of how important the bonding and attachment in the first 3 years of the child’s
life. Knowing the phases of Attachment and Separation-Individuation
Theory, helps me to notice when a child has attachment or bonding difficulty. It’s
important to know that a child without any attachment and bonding in his/her
early age will be affected in his
childhood and also in adulthood and they will find it difficult to have a
steady relationship as well to find someone to trust (Fonagy & Target, 2007). These theories
helped me realise how difficult a child will go through when there will be lack
of attachment and bonding. Once the child comes to therapeutic play, through
play I need to build a secure bonding and positive attachment with the child
that had never experienced this bond before. Therapeutic play consists of
mirroring, pretence, performance, sharing, showing and witnessing and this is
very helpful to repair and reforming attachment through experiential and
sensory means and brings up those early relational situations that happened
before words became central, permitting the brain to accomplish new, more creative
patterns. Infect, reparative presentations of secure attachment involvements
between the therapist and the child are essential to positive change (Malchiodi
& Crenshaw, 2014). Although all the therapeutic play
therapists can be used with the goal of attracting
relationship, dance/ movement therapy is most frequently used to deal with
attachment issues since it focuses on the body. For example, mirroring a client helps to set up and improve the
relationship between the client and the therapist. If the client had issues of
attachment when he was young, he will find it very difficult to attach easily
and bond with the therapist (Malchiodi & Crenshaw, 2014).

Gaining this knowledge on both Mahler and Bowlby’s theory
helps me to improve my therapeutic play and with my clients and also gain the importance
of a good relationship between the child and me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Ainsworth, M. D. S., 1973. The development of
infant-mother attachment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Axline, V.
M., 1986. Dibs in Search of Self. New York: Ballantine Books.
Bowlby, J.,
1969. Attachment. Attachment and loss. New York: Basic Books.
Coates, S.,
2012. John Bowlby and Magaret S. Mahler Their Lives and Theories. In: Relational
Psychoanalysis Expansion of Theory. New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis
Group, pp. 131- 157.
Fonagy, P.
& Target, M., 2007. The rooting of the mind in the body: New links between
attachment. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Issue
55, p. 411–456.
Grace, E.,
2013. Mahler’s Theory of Development. Online
Available at: http://www.kidsdevelopment.co.uk/mahlersdevelopmenttheory.html
Accessed 2017 December 26.
Henniger, M.,
2014. John Bowlby’s Perspective on Learning and Development. Online
Available at: https://www.education.com/reference/article/john-bowlby-attachment-stages/
Accessed 26 December 2017.
Malchiodi, C.
A. & Crenshaw, D. A., 2014. Creative Arts and Play Therapy for
Attachment Problems. New York: The Guilford Press.
Schaefer, C.
E., 1993. The therapeutic power of play, Northvale: Aronson.
Schore, A.,
2003. Affect regulation and the repair of the self. New York: Norton.