The extended nervous system: affect regulation, somatic and social change processes associated with mindful parenting

Townshend, Kishani, and Caltabiano, Nerina Jane (2019) The extended nervous system: affect regulation, somatic and social change processes associated with mindful parenting. BMC Psychology, 7. 41.

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Background: A theoretical model of mindful parenting has the potential to succinctly summarise its various change processes. The primary aim of this study was to investigate some of the change processes associated with mindful parenting, namely, the affect regulation, somatic and social change processes. A secondary aim was to verify whether clinical insights are consistent with the change processes identified in a systematic review of mindful parenting.

Method: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse semi-structured interviews with four Australian clinicians delivering Mindful Parenting (MP) programs. The clinicians had extensive personal meditation practice. This qualitative study is part of a mixed methods study, which commenced with a quantitative systematic review.

Results: Six higher-order themes identified as change processes included reflective functioning, attachment, cognitive, affective, somatic and social change processes.

Conclusion: The anchor is a new theoretical model summarising the change processes associated with mindful parenting. The mother portrayed as the extended nervous system for the infant is a neologism that also has not been previously mentioned in the literature. Given the limitations with the small sample and potential bias with interpretation, the anchor is a starting point to developing a theoretical model of mindful parenting. Future research with larger sample sizes and objective measures is needed to confirm whether the anchor is a reasonable summary of the change processes.

Item ID: 58862
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2050-7283
Keywords: Change mechanisms, Processes, Affect regulation, Somatic, Social, Mindful parenting
Copyright Information: © The Author(s). 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2019 00:16
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520304 Health psychology @ 70%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4409 Social work > 440999 Social work not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 100%
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