Emotional Availability (EA): Risky relational processes in an international context

Z Biringen, N Atzaba-Poria, N Gueron, G Meiri, B Yerushalmi, M de Zeeuw, L Kersten-Alvarez, D Mueller, C Kern, K Brisch, B Salomonsson, A Cotiga

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


As an observational instrument, emotional availability (EA) refers to a dyadic look at the emotional interactions between adults and
children, and features 4 caregiver dimensions (sensitivity, structuring, nonintrusiveness, and nonhostility) and 2 child dimensions
(responsiveness to the adult and involvement of the adult). EA includes both the said (the verbal) and the unsaid (nonverbal) aspects of
global emotional communication between interactive partners. Each of these observational dimensions is described on a continuum,
72 ranging from high to inconsistent to low. EA is increasingly appreciated for the reliable estimate it can provide about global relational
quality for assessment of at-risk groups and for the window it provides for treatment possibilities. The 5 posters, from an international
authorship, include contributors from Israel, Netherlands, Germany, Romania, and Sweden and a moderator from the US. The first
poster describes EA for children with feeding disorders and highlights the role of both mother-child and father-child interactions, as
well as the role for father involvement for this at-risk condition. The second poster examines EA in normal mothers as well as mothers
with borderline personality disorder or depression, and highlights the role of child temperament in helping to create a transactional
process of development. The third poster examines EA in a group of young children who were born prematurely and who are being
followed longitudinally through the early years. Using a randomized control trial, the fourth poster highlights the efficacy of motherinfant psychoanalytic treatment 'versus treatment as usual' in decreasing maternal stress and depression and in enhancing mother-child EA. The final poster changes the focus of EA from observations to maternal report, using the recently developed EA-Self Report. In a
group of women undergoing psychotherapy, it examines how maternal prenatal representations predict mother's postnatal self-report
of nonhostility toward the infant. This collection of studies examines EA as an observational instrument to examine basic science
research questions in at-risk or clinical populations, as a tool for program evaluation, and as a self-report measure. Emotional
availability (EA) as a multi-dimensional concept and assessment for clinically relevant research and risky relational processes is
Original languageEnglish GB
Pages (from-to)71-72
Number of pages2
JournalInfant Mental Health Journal
Issue number3 - Supplement
StatePublished - May 2011


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