|Interview with NBAS trainer, Joanna Hawthorne, conducted by Jessica Nagel at the 2002 International NBAS Trainers Conference at Children's Hospital, Boston.
Joanna Hawthorne, Research Psychologist, Cambridge, England
When did you first learn about the NBAS?
The first time I heard about the NBAS was from my supervisor, Dr. Martin Richard. He was at Harvard when Dr. Brazelton was developing the NBAS. When I was planning my Ph.D. study, I wanted a measure of a baby's behavior. Dr. Richard then said to look at the NBAS, which was published in 1973. I looked and thought, this is what I want. So my first practice of the NBAS on a baby was on Dr. Richard's daughter on my desk!
How have you since incorporated it into your discipline?
I used the NBAS on premature babies as a research tool, comparing two groups. After that I worked in Chicago and joined a group doing the assessment with new mothers as part of an intervention project. Then while I was teaching second grade, I stopped using it for a while. In the 80's I was in touch with Dan Griffith and Linda Gilkerson. I had always used the scale as a background to the way I looked at babies. I then helped set up the Brazelton Center in 1997.
Would you please share a vignette or meaningful moment you had while working with the NBAS?
Every time you administer an NBAS there are some wonderful moments. I was working with a mother who had just had her first baby and she was a nursery nurse (she took care of children in day care). This woman had had a C-Section and the baby was now three days old. I started the assessment with the baby and when I asked the mother to call her baby, the baby responded, turned and looked at the mother. The mother's response was "oh my goodness, you do know me! I thought he would not know me because I had a C-section." It also has an amazing impact on fathers. I asked the father of a baby to call his baby and the baby turned to look at the father. I think this helps fathers to feel wanted and useful. I think that one of the most powerful impacts of the NBAS is to show parents that their baby knows them and wants them.
How do you conceive the role of the instrument in the future?
Our goal is to have a trained NBAS person in every hospital and community in the country. We need to use this as a strength-based approach with parents and babies. We don't want to lose the full scale but in practice, people take from the assessment what they want. I think the most important part about the scale is showing the strengths of the child.