Watch, Wait and Wonder DownUnder

Pilot Study


In New Zealand Muir, Stupples and Guy ran a pilot study of 8 mother infant pairs [18 months-3 years], five of whom completed an average 8 sessions using the modification of Watch, Wait and Wonder that included a psychotherapeutic discussion of the mother’s observations of the infant’s play. The parents sought help for eating and sleeping difficulties, communication and behaviour management problems. Maternal depression was prevalent, as were histories of significant loss in the previous 2 years, and birth difficulties.  Clinical observations, film and semi-structured interviews monitored outcome.


In all cases mothers reported improvements in the presenting problems and in the relationship between the infant and themselves, they described feeling more “bonded” or “attached” to their child. Mothers expressed more confidence in themselves as parents and interviews with fathers supported these comments. Interestingly parents noted gains in their child’s communications skills and clinically our observations noted improvements in language skills and focused play. This work was presented at the Fourth World Congress for WAIMH in Lugano, 1989 and was D Guy’s Dissertation for membership FRANZCP [1988, unpublished].


These were exciting outcomes for infants who had moderate to severe problems. The findings from families who completed the intervention, and understandings from those who left early with little change, generated the impetus for further work and research using this modification of  Watch, Wait and Wonder.