University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Vermont Medicine Magazine

Slade Discusses Attachment, Trauma and Mentalization at 10th Annual Gibbard Lecture

Arietta Slade
2013 Gibbard Lecturer Arietta Slade, Ph.D.

The University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry presented the Tenth Annual Bruce A. Gibbard, M.D. Memorial Lectureship Program on Friday, March 22, 2013. This year’s Gibbard Lecturer was Arietta Slade, Ph.D., professor of clinical and developmental psychology at the City University of New York and visiting research scientist at the Yale Child Study Center. She discussed “Minding the Baby®: Attachment, Trauma, and the Development of Mentalization.” The event took place in Davis Auditorium in the Medical Education Center on Level 2 of Fletcher Allen Health Care's Ambulatory Care Center.

The 2013 program included the Vermont Psychiatric Association’s Presentation of the 2013 Bruce A. Gibbard, M.D. Award for Clinical Excellence from 10:15 to 10:30 a.m., and the Gibbard Lecture (Grand Rounds Workshop #13-128-29) from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m. Following a lunch reception in the Davis Auditorium Lobby, Slade led a workshop for clinicians and mental health professionals only on “Developing Reflective Capacities in Mothers and Families: Notes from the Field.”

Slade is a theoretician, clinician, researcher, and teacher. She has focused on integrating the domains of attachment research and dynamically-oriented clinical practice for the past 30 years and has written widely on the clinical implications of attachment theory, the development of parental reflective functioning and mentalization, and the relational contexts of play and early symbolization. Most recently, Slade has addressed the role of fear in attachment and clinical process. For the past 10 years, she has been co-directing Minding the Baby®, an interdisciplinary reflective parenting home visiting program for high-risk mothers, infants, and their families, at the Child Study Center and School of Nursing at Yale University. She is editor, with Dennie Wolf, of Children at Play: Developmental and Clinical Approaches to Meaning and Representation, (Oxford University Press, 1994), with Elliot Jurist and Sharone Bergner, of Mind to Mind: Infant Research, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis (Other Press, 2008), and with Jeremy Holmes of the forthcoming Major Work on Attachment (SAGE Publications). Slade, who received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from New York University, has been in private practice for thirty years, working with children and adults.

Minding the Baby® is an intensive, interdisciplinary home-based intervention aimed at helping parents, whose lives have been disrupted by trauma, abandonment, loss, and severe mental illness, to develop the capacity to envision their own and their child’s subjective experience. Though the late Selma Fraiberg planted the seeds for psychoanalytic infant-parent work over 40 years ago, contemporary efforts have been deeply enriched by developments in infant research, relational psychoanalysis, as well as attachment and mentalization theories, which focus on affect regulation, intersubjectivity, and intergenerational transmission of fear and trauma. Minding the Baby® engages mothers before they give birth, with the goal of interrupting cycles of traumatizing, disrupted interactions, and developing more attuned interactions that culminate in a more secure attachment and appropriate development. The presentation will include a discussion of the theoretical frameworks for Minding the Baby®, a description of the fundamental aspects of mentalization-based infant-parent work, and a summary of a randomized clinical trial and preliminary findings.

Attendance and clinical affiliation was recorded for the afternoon program. The annual Gibbard Lectureship Program was provided at no charge to participants, thanks to donations made to the Bruce A. Gibbard M.D. Lectureship in Psychiatry Fund at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. To learn more about the Gibbard Lectureship Fund, or to make a donation, contact Sarah Keblin, director of Annual Giving and Major Gifts, at .