|Interview with NBAS trainer, Dr. Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, conducted by Amy Alberts at the 2002 International NBAS Trainers Conference at Children's Hospital, Boston.
Nadia Bruschweiler-Stern, MD, Geneva, Switzerland
When did you first learn about the NBAS?
In 1982, I was first exposed to the NBAS scale by a pediatrician visiting from Canada. I remember getting hooked on it immediately after hearing about the Scale for the first time. I had always been living at the level of nonverbal communication. The NBAS fit well with my natural style of interaction with infants and their parents. I believe that the NBAS addresses basic concerns surrounding infancy and, therefore, is an integral part of early assessment.
How have you since incorporated it into your discipline?
I was trained in Pediatrics and Child Psychiatry. Throughout my training, I sensed in my teachers and colleagues a certain resistance to the ideas professed by Dr. Brazelton and his team at the Brazelton Institute. There existed a milieu in Child Psychiatry, in which the parent-infant relationship is only seen through the eye of pathology. That is, only those things pathological were seen as deep enough to deserve professional attention. At the same time, the study of more positive aspects of development was considered superficial and assigned little value. Its power as a tool that induces change was ignored.
I came to the Brazelton Institute to train on the NBAS in 1994 and 1995. After being trained on the Scale, I sought to open a Brazelton Training Site at the University Hospital in Geneva. I had to struggle for some time before successfully creating an institute based on the "Brazelton Principals" in a private clinic: La Clinique des Grangettes. Now I am appreciated and supported where I work. My consultation is very busy and I have trained 40 professionals in four years. I hope to build a team of NBAS trainers at the clinic, who will support training efforts. There is such a strong need for this Scale by parents in all socioeconomic classes; it must be open to everyone.
Would you please share a vignette or meaningful moment you had while working with the NBAS?
Meaningful moments with the NBAS occur everyday. I remember this little boy, whose parents were saddened to discover that his foot was slightly deformed. The parents were shocked and frozen in their investment to their child, as they were focused on this deformed little foot. As a result, the parents were very anxious and unable to relate to their child. After performing the NBAS on the little boy in front of his parents, I was delighted to discover that the boy was very well organized. Perhaps the most valuable discovery, however, was made by the boy's mother who was overjoyed to see her son respond immediately to her voice by turning towards her and looking at her intensely. The mother found that behind that deformed foot there was a baby that wanted her love and attention. This moment was an instantaneous breakthrough for the mother. The NBAS had an incredible impact on a variety of emotional and social levels.
How do you conceive the role of the instrument in the future?
I believe that the conceptual foundation of the Scale should be taught more readily, in addition to training on the actual Scale. This would afford a wider dissemination of information pertaining to the Scale. We must develop an NBAS trainers' network, in which an exchange of ideas and teaching materials might take place.
I also feel strongly that the classic Scale be preserved. The standardized administration of the Scale, which loses the concept of best performance, is a major error. However, I do think that a simpler scoring protocol for the Scale would benefit examiners.