Trauma Exposure in Relation to the Content of Mother-Child Emotional Conversations and Quality of Interaction

Mathilde M. Overbeek, Nina Koren-Karie, Adi Erez Ben-Haim, J. Clasien de Schipper, Patricia D. Dreier Gligoor, Carlo Schuengel

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Parent-child conversations contribute to understanding and regulating children's emotions. Similarities and differences in discussed topics, quality of interaction and coherence/elaboration in mother-child conversations about emotional experiences of the child were studied in dyads who had been exposed to interpersonal trauma (N = 213) and non-trauma-exposed dyads (N = 86). Results showed that in conversations about negative emotions, trauma-exposed children more often discussed trauma topics and focused less on relationship topics than non-trauma-exposed children. Trauma-exposed dyads found it more difficult to come up with a story. The most common topics chosen by dyads to discuss for each emotion were mostly similar between trauma-exposed dyads and non-trauma-exposed dyads. Dyads exposed to interpersonal traumatic events showed lower quality of interaction and less coherence/elaboration than dyads who had not experienced traumatic events. Discussion of traumatic topics was associated with lower quality of mother-child interaction and less coherent dialogues. In conclusion, the effect of the trauma is seen at several levels in mother-child interaction: topics, behavior and coherence. A focus on support in developing a secure relationship after trauma may be important for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number805
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2019


  • emotion conversation
  • emotion dialogue
  • marital violence
  • mother-child interaction
  • parent-child communication
  • sexual abuse
  • trauma exposure


Dive into the research topics of 'Trauma Exposure in Relation to the Content of Mother-Child Emotional Conversations and Quality of Interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this