Ep 52: Understanding Attachment with Dr. Mara Tesler-Stein

In our field, we hear and use the word attachment so often. And, in the community of trauma-informed clinicians, I'd always felt like we had a deep understanding of what this word means.

But when I sat down with Dr. Mara Tesler-Stein for the second time on The Zero Disturbance Podcast, we got to unpack the lack of understanding that lies within this concept for our clients... and possibly even for the folks in our clinical communities.

A lot of research in the perinatal field suggests that we jump to a "disturbed attachment" diagnosis with our NICU babies. However, Mara helps redirect us to what she sees as the real key to fostering secure attachment for parents and children.

And the answer is not so reliant on the NICU experience that the research suggests. In fact, it's actually quite simple.

If parents of NICU babies are able to respond with attunement, responsiveness, and sensitivity, then secure attachment will find its way. And yes, that means that parents need to put in their own work, spending time reflecting on their own attachment behaviors and styles, but when that work is navigated, they're able to give their babies the secure attachment they so lovingly want to offer.

And that's the magic in the trauma-informed therapy we offer our adult clients.

This interview was a powerful reminder of how the narratives we create about parents or kids are sometimes an interpretation (or misinterpretation) of behaviors and urges. As we explored attachment and parenting throughout the lifespan, even touching on complex diagnoses such as neurodivergence, the vulnerable child, and RAD, Mara brought me "back to home base" in the NICU.

Join us as we learn how to trust and listen to parents, help them create healthy narratives, and teach them what secure attachment actually looks like!

You won't want to miss the clinical gold nuggets sprinkled throughout a beautiful conversation about the capacity to bond, attach, attune, and heal.


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Learn more about today’s spotlight guest: 

Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D., PMH-C is a clinical psychologist practicing in Chicago and Jerusalem. She is the founder and director of The Touchstone Institute for Psychotherapy and Training where she offers both EMDR Foundational trainings for perinatal specialists & advanced EMDR workshops which take a deeper dive into the intersections and applications of EMDR and perinatal mental health.

Dr. Stein is a staunch advocate for trauma-focused care and is trained and certified in a range of integrative trauma therapies. A certified EMDR therapist, EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Trainer for the Institute for Creative Mindfulness, Dr. Stein is also certified in Emotion-Focused Family and Couple Therapy, is a Gottman Certified Therapist, and continues to pursue training in Clinical Hypnosis, Yoga-Informed treatment, Advanced applications of EMDR, Brainspotting, and Ego-State therapies.

She is the co-author (with Deborah Davis, Ph.D.) of Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey (Fulcrum, 2004) and Intensive Parenting: Surviving the Journey Through the NICU (Fulcrum, 2013).

Her trauma work is grounded in her personal perinatal journey, which began 25 years ago taking her through infertility, twin pregnancy, prolonged hospital bedrest, the NICU, and years of raising NICU graduates.

Learn more about Mara's training here


Learn more about Zero Disturbance: 

Zero Disturbance offers comprehensive resources for therapists on EMDR-informed clinical reasoning, intensive design, passive income systems, & teaching excellence. 

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With a Masters in Education from Vanderbilt, Kambria has been creating trainings and teaching adult learners for 20 years. As Director of Education and Quality Improvement at Stanford Medical School, her job was to decomplicate and consolidate complex systems and topics, thereby giving medical trainees successful learning experiences. Now, as a busy mom of fraternal twins, dedicated business owner of Zero Disturbance, and EMDRIA Approved Consultant, Kambria knows what it means to do things efficiently, effectively, and in a learner-centered way.