Differentiation, self-other representations, and rupture-repair processes: Predicting child maltreatment risk

Elizabeth A. Skowron, Jo Ellen M. Kozlowski, Aaron L. Pincus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


This set of studies was designed to examine the relational underpinnings of child abuse potential in a sample of 51 urban families. In Study 1, lower maternal differentiation of self-most notably, greater emotional reactivity and greater emotional cutoff-along with self-attacking introjects distinguished mothers at higher risk (vs. lower risk) for child maltreatment. In Study 2, patterns of interactive rupture and repair were examined in a subsample of 15 families and found to vary as a function of risk for child maltreatment. Specifically, Structural Analysis of Social Behavior coding (SASB; Benjamin, 1996, 2003) of mother-children interactions during 2 moderately stressful lab tasks revealed higher rates of interactive mismatch and mother-initiated ruptures and fewer successful repairs in families at higher risk for child maltreatment, relative to families at lower risk. Implications for counseling and directions for further translational research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-316
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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