Shall we dance? Music as a port of entrance to maternal-infant intersubjectivity in a context of postnatal depression

Martine Van Puyvelde, Gerrit Loots, Helena Rodrigues, Lotta De Coster, Kevin Du Ville, Liesbeth Matthijs, David Simcock, Nathalie Pattyn

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16 Citations (Scopus)


The present study introduces the concept of a mother-infant group therapy that makes use of music, singing, and moving to establish maternal-infant intersubjectivity. It was conducted in a residential mother-baby unit for mothers with postnatal depression and their infants over a 5-week period. Maternal-infant intersubjectivity of four dyads in relation to the group dynamics were microanalyzed for Sessions 1 and 5. We made within-session (i.e., beginning-middle-end) and between-session (Session 1 vs. Session 5) comparisons for the number of intersubjectivity moments (ISMs), total time of intersubjectivity (IST), and the mean duration of ISMs on a dyadic (i.e., own mother/infant involved) and a nondyadic level (i.e., own mother/infant not involved). In addition, three ISM levels (degree of group contribution) were distinguished. The results indicated a significant increase of ISMs/IST from Session 1 to Session 5. Within-session analyses showed that ISMs/IST significantly decreased through Session 1 and remained stable throughout Session 5. Intersubjectivity occurred mainly on ISM Level 1 during Session 1 and on ISM Level 3 during Session 5, suggesting increased dyadic autonomy and self-efficacy. The results are discussed in relation to the musical characteristics of mother-infant dyads, music improvisation techniques, group processes, and intersubjective development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-232
Number of pages13
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Musician
  • South Africa
  • Conversation analysis


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