The author discusses the psychoanalyst’s address in mother-infant treatments. He brings out the infant as an important though often neglected addressee. A clinical example is used in which a telephone call during the session before triggered fretting in a 3-month-old girl and distress in her mother. He describes how non-verbal levels of his interventions reached the girl and contained her, and suggests his containment worked along similar lines as the communicative musicality between mother and baby. He thus links Bion’s psychoanalytic concept of containment with Trevarthen’s concept of communicative musicality. He also brings out the mother’s need for containment and discusses when it is essential to focus on either participant in the therapy room. This choice is guided both by explicit deliberations and by unconscious factors comprising his countertransference. Our wish to grasp the countertransference is countered by our unwillingness of being reminded of our own infantile helplessness. The baby’s ability to receive her mother’s caretaking is compromised when the mother’s conscious and unconscious messages diverge. This was the case when she tried to soothe her daughter but was preoccupied with anger at the therapist to an extent she was not fully aware of.
Keywords: Mother-infant psychoanalysis, non-verbal communication, audible and visible aspects of containment.