Preoccupied in the Transition to Motherhood: Ana’s Journey Toward Mentalizing

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The transition to motherhood can be a difficult journey for women who have histories of psychological distress stress, physical abuse, stressors associated with immigration. There is limited analysis on the transition to motherhood for preoccupied mothers-to-be who have experienced these significant psychological and physical demands. This case study follows the treatment of a 38-year-old Latina woman through her transition to motherhood as she addresses the psychological effects of posttraumatic stress disorder, relational demands associated with a residential placement, and socioeconomic stressors associated with undocumented immigration and economic stress. A mentalization-based treatment approach entitled Minding the Baby was to address Ana’s difficulty forming relationships with peers and potentially with her child. A focus on mentalization-based treatment intervention in the context of parent-infant psychotherapy was proposed to better enable Ana to form healthy relationships with peers and to lessen her trauma-related symptoms. Ana’s increase in reflective functioning through developing a supportive and productive therapeutic relationship enabled her to better acknowledge and tolerate mental states, including the thoughts and feelings of others, promoting improved engagement in the relationship with her infant and move toward a more secure attachment relationship. Theses interventions also appeared to lessen Ana’s trauma symptoms and insecure attachment and increased more healthy social interactions with peers. Ana’s treatment illustrates the importance of concrete services in using parent-infant psychotherapy and mentalization-based approaches to promote a more healthy transition to motherhood.

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Furrow, James L.

Document Type





Psychotherapy, Attachment behavior, Attachment disorder, Motherhood, Psychic trauma




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