Enhancing the effectiveness of residential treatment for substance abusing pregnant and parenting women: Focus on maternal reflective functioning and mother-child relationship



Substance abuse during early motherhood has become a significant problem and has led to accelerated efforts to develop specific treatment facilities for these mothers and children. Despite the often intensive treatment efforts in residential settings, there is surprisingly little evidence of their efficacy for enhancing the quality of caregiving. The situation of these mother-child pairs is exceptionally complex and multilevel, and has to be taken into account in the content and structuring of treatment. Intensive work in the “here and now” focusing on the mother-child relationship from pregnancy onwards in an effort to enhance maternal reflective capacity and mindedness is considered a key element for better treatment prognosis, in terms of both abstinence and quality of parenting. Pioneering work with such a focus is described in this article.