Mind, Movement, Interaction, and Development Research Group MMID-RG

Shape-Flow and Shaping
Shape-flow & Shaping

Mind, Movement, Interaction, and Development Research Group  

MMID-RG/The Sossin Lab

 

K. Mark Sossin, Ph.D., Professor & Associate Chair for Strategic Development, Department of Psychology, Pace University, oversees studies in the MMID-RG/Lab.

 

The MMID Research Group: Scope and Direction

Within the Mind, Movement, Interaction and Development Research Group, research studies are pursued along several pathways:

 

·         Infant-parent interaction patterns

·        Movement patterns, and other associated aspects of nonverbal behavior, and their pertinence to psychological functions and observable behavior in the individual and in the dyad

o   A keystone of such movement study is the domain carved by the Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP), as a research method, along side related theoretical propositions regarding the interface of psychological and movement functions. Rooted dually in Laban Movement Analysis and psychodynamic developmental theory, use of the KMP as both method and framework invite further bridge building in understanding embodiment of emotion and mental states.

o    Basic research pertains to change-qualities of body tension and shaping, within the body-contours, and movement patterns extended into the kinesphere, and their correspondences to developmental progression, as well as intrapersonal dynamics and interpersonal relations.

o     Related facets of such work involve clinical and therapeutic implications and methods in the realms of psychological assessment, primary prevention, early intervention, and child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy.

o   Use and refinement of video-feedback techniques related to parent-infant/toddler interaction patterns.

 

Such studies of kinetic rhythmicity of tension and shape, within and beyond the body's contours, pertain to our knowledge base regarding body-mind integration, affective experience, and development. They also exemplify empirical investigation into constructs in psychoanalytic developmental theory such as developmental phase progression, defenses, structuralization through object-relations, and internalization. The KMP provides a window into attunement and clashing in the parent-child or couple dyad, and also into the nonverbal channel conveying mental and affective states between individuals. The observation that intergenerational transmission of stress, among other experiences, traverses via nonverbal behavioral channels is further explored in such studies. 

 

 

  • Emotional Availability and Early Relational Assessment
  • Several studies are further examining the emotional availability (EA) of the parent-child/dyad (as measured by Zeynep Biringen's EA Scales) in relation to: infant temperament, maternal personality, parent stress, early relational patterns, maternal work experience and satisfaction, and nonverbal patterns as well. Other studies are employing the Early Relational Assessment Scale (as measured by Rosanne Clark's PCERA Scales), e.g., in relation to parent-stress and parent-personality. Current studies using the EA and PCERA scales with one-year olds and their mothers will lay further foundations for exploration of nonverbal behavior correspondences with these measures.

 

d   Embodied intentionality, theory of mind, pretend, play, “mentalization,” and attachment-qualities

o   Studies in the first 3 years of life bearing upon emotional-availability in parent, child, and dyad, as related to early symbolization, representation, joint attention, and shared affect, particularly focused the ways in which these factors correspond to concordant and discordant nonverbal patterns

o   Studies in later development of the qualities listed above in addition to narrative qualities, as reflected by adult attachment, reflective-function, or referential activity measures. Contexts include parent-child, couple, and patient-therapist.

 

·         Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)

o   Use of nonverbal assessment in the improvement of early diagnosis of ASDs.

o   Investigating the interrelationship among attainments and constrictions in affect-recognition, social cognition, perspective taking, and communication (narrative and nonverbal) and relating these to challenges in transitioning toward greater autonomy in individuals with ASDs during late adolescence and early adulthood. Longitudinal aspects of such study will examine the efficacy of programmatic (and potentially, clinical) interventions and supports for such individuals. 

 

 

·         Stress, trauma and loss

o   Impact of stress, trauma and loss upon developmental progression, viewed through:

§  Intergenerational transmission

§  Narrative coding (e.g. adjectival descriptors, feeling states, agency)

§  Nonverbal patterns (e.g. movement patterns and paralanguage)

§  The nature of evolving internal representations of lost love-ones as related to bereavement, grief and mourning

o   Primary prevention

§  Reducing risk of lasting posttraumatic stress upon initial acute stress and/or loss

§  Reducing risk of intergenerational transmission of such stress

§  Planned study of (and prevention for) military veteran parents and their infant-toddler children

o   Therapeutic intervention for those who lost loved ones in childhood

o   Survivors of major trauma and genocide. Narrative coding of child-Holocaust interviews; developmental and coping factors

 

Maternal Depression and the Nonverbal Channel

Under the MMID-RG umbrella, studies are being pursued pertaining to frame-by-frame coding of nonverbal behavior utilizing components of the Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP). In conjunction with the Laboratory of Communication Sciences in the Department of Child Psychiatry at New York State Psychiatric Institute (Columbia), directed by Dr. Beatrice Beebe, several studies are currently looking at such patterns as they relate to qualities of maternal depression when the infant is 12 months old, to evolve in studies examining other attachment-related behaviors (Pace students have included, and currently include Dr. Amy Reale, Liliya Endres, Yelena Bromberg, and Robin Herbst). Several questions are framed within the exploration of lag sequential analyses and both intrapersonal and interactive contingencies. Dr. Al Ward serves as methodological and statistical consultant on these studies. Following upon a collaborative primary prevention project “Mothers, infants and young children of September 11, 2001,” further joint work may evolve pertaining to mother, child, and dyadic nonverbal behavior in relation to loss, bereavement and their complications.

 

The Kestenberg Movement Profile (KMP), Laban-anchored Movement Systems, in relation to Developmental and Psychological Functioning

          The work sited above bears on multiple ways in which the Kestenberg Movement Profile system, generally leading to data reflective of an individuals movement repertoire, is being utilized to view phrasing and sequential patterning of movement, e.g., examining contingencies within and between individuals.

     A key facet of research within the MMID Lab is the use, methodological refinement, and study of cross-modal correspondences of the KMP, and an examination of Laban and Kestenberg theoretical propositions regarding the interfacing of kinetic, psychological and developmental variables in individuals and dyads. Normative descriptives, reliability and validity of the KMP are being pursued with both neurotypical and neuroatypical subjects. Complex theoretical issues pertain to the nature of rhythms and psychological meaning of specific movement patterns.  Dr. Frances La Barre joins Dr. Sossin in planning additional observational studies of parent-infant interaction especially focused on the nonverbal behavior of infants, toddlers and parents. This work further extends to the development and application of primary prevention methods, including use of video-feedback consultations. A hope is the extension of Nursery primary-prevention methods with a setting devoted to work with military-veteran parents and their infants. Moreover, as observations of emerging play and symbolization become formalized, the MMID Research Group’s interests will likely overlap with those of labs run by Dr. Leora Trub and Dr. Thalia Goldstein’s and collaborations are planned. Consideration and measurement of parent behaviors has led to collaboration with Dr. Barbara Mowder's Parent-Child Institute at Pace as well.

     During the 2013-2015 years, Karolina Bryl, who has completed graduate training in Dance Movement Psychotherapy in Poland, and gained certification in Laban Movement at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York, is fulfilling a research-internship position employing and refining use of the KMP in the MMID Lab. She is now a doctoral student (Ph.D.) in the Creative Arts Therapy Program at Drexel University

     Another area of research pertains to emotional availability. Four complete studies (Dr. Jessica Sharkey and Dr. Shanna German, Dr. Erica Samson, and Ms. Diana Haddad) and ongoing studies (incl. Ms. Courtney Clabby) have been employing observationally denoted qualities of emotional availability and early relational patterns in mother/child interaction in the study of such attachment-related attainments as correspondent to child temperament, maternal personality, parent-role, maternal employment/work satisfaction, multiple Early Relational Assessment (ERA) factors bearing upon parental and child behaviors, as well as maternal and child movement behavior (KMP patterns; incl. Ms. Masami Araki, Mr. Kevin Rustam).

     An additional domain within the MMID Research Group’s purview is autism spectrum disorders, particularly focused on how encoding and decoding of both nonverbal and verbal communication become compromised (along with “social literacy”) among diagnosed individuals. An emerging set of studies in conjunction with Pace University’s OASIS Program and TARA Center pertains to the interweaving of theory of mind, affect-recognition, empathy, social-literacy, narrative composition, and nonverbal behavior (incl: Alla Sheynkin).  Research objectives include two sets of investigation: one set examines basic-research questions pertaining to the interrelation of multiple factors contributing to qualities of message-exchange within social contexts; and the second set examines program evaluation goals, incorporating longitudinal measurement.

     Specific movement research is pursued in conjunction with longstanding collaborators, including individuals from the fields of dance/movement-therapy, anthropology, and psychology. Included are Susan Loman, MA, BC-DMT, NCC (Antioch New England University, NH), Janet Kestenberg Amighi, (Immaculata University, PA), Suzanne Hastie, MA, BC-DMT, NCC, LPC (Twin Ponds Integrative Health Center, and Drexel University, PA), Silvia B. Birklein, Ph.D., MA, LCAT, BC-DMT, CMA (NYC), Frances LaBarre, Ph.D. (Pace University), Sabine Koch, Ph.D., BC-DMT (University of Heidelberg) and Jocelyn Shaw, Ph.D., BC-DMT. Historical and basic information about the Kestenberg Movement Profile can be viewed at http://www.kestenbergmovementprofile.org/ and in the textbook:

Kestenberg Amighi, J., Loman, S., Lewis, P. & Sossin, K. M. (1999). The meaning of movement: Developmental and clinical

perspectives of the Kestenberg Movement Profile. Amsterdam: Gordon & Breach.  {New York: Brunner-Routledge}. 369 pp.

 

     Some support for KMP research (such as certification training) has been anchored in an arm of Child Development Research (CDR), Inc., an nonprofit research organization, which also oversees a large compilation of Holocaust child-survivor interviews.  Studies pertaining to trauma and organized persecution impacting children, and its prevention, alongside attention to nonverbal behavioral indices, are focal in this work, and are linked to Dr. Sossin’s own current studies of child traumatization and loss. Eva Fogelman, Ph.D. and Helene Bass-Wichelhaus, Ph.D. co-direct the International Study of the Organized Persecution of Children (ISOPC) (see http://holocaustchildren.org), and studies at Pace have pertained to the narrative coding of trauma-related memories (e.g. Dr. Gila Sandler). Nonverbal and affective features of the narrative are of special interest. Attention to trauma and parent-loss have been further extended by Dr. Sossin in collaborative works exemplified by the edited books, Beebe, B., Cohen, P.,Sossin, K. M.,& Markese, S. (Eds.) (2012), Mothers, infants and young children of September 11, 2001.  New York: Routledge; and Cohen, P., Sossin, K. M., & Ruth, R. (Eds.) (2014). Healing after loss of a parent in childhood and adolescence: Therapeutic interventions and theoretical considerations. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

     

     In sum, MMID-RG will provide an anchor for research regarding qualitative movement patterns in early development, processes in parent-child dyadic interaction, affect-sharing, further understandings of children, adolescents, and young adults with autistic spectrum disorders, and, and the phenomena of intergenerational transmission of stress, trauma and loss. The Research Group will be establishing regular group meetings to procedurally organize and conceptually review ongoing projects. A select number of research participant slots will open for students at doctoral, masters, and bachelors levels of study. Stipends are not currently available. Research grants will be sought.

 

Contact:

K. Mark Sossin, Ph.D. ksossin@pace.edu  (or use "contact" page in this website) 

Professor of Psychology, Pace University

 

See CV ( can be downloaded from the Pace website   http://www.pace.edu/dyson/academic-departments-and-programs/psychology---nyc/faculty/mark-sossin  ) for further information about professional publications, presentations and student doctoral projects related to the research group’s activities.

 

K. Mark Sossin, Ph.D.
K. Mark Sossin, Ph.D.