Child Clinical Psychology, Pennsylvania State University
Cohort Eight Fellow
Alex Busuito is a doctoral student in Child Clinical Psychology at The Pennsylvania State University. At Penn State, Alex’s research has identified disruptions in everyday parent-infant interactions as one mechanism by which family conflict and maltreatment impairs young children’s physiological regulation. As a mental health clinician, Alex works with children who have experienced trauma and conducts community workshops with parents at risk for perpetrating maltreatment. Alex’s current research examines self-regulatory deficits in parents who were maltreated as children. This work is aimed at identifying mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of maltreatment with the goal of informing targeted prevention and policy. Alex earned a B.S. from Eastern Michigan University.
The Intergenerational Reach of Childhood Maltreatment: Effects on Self-Regulation during Early Parenthood
This dissertation will launch a program of research aimed at identifying mechanisms of the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment that can be targeted by policy and practice to interrupt destructive cycles. This project takes the first step by examining one likely mechanism: maltreated parents’ self-regulation. Childhood maltreatment disrupts the development of self-regulation, which is fundamental to the daily work of parenting. Self-regulatory deficits incurred in early childhood are likely to carry into adulthood and may contribute to poor parenting, perpetuating the intergenerational transmission of child maltreatment. Therefore, this dissertation proposes to examine whether mothers who were maltreated as children exhibit deficits in physiological (parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)) and cognitive (executive functioning (EF)) regulation and whether these deficits predict harsh parenting of their own infants.