A responsive, nurturing milieu for the developing child, including physical
holding as well as the mother's or primary caregiver's preoccupation with the
child and her ability to soothe, comfort, and reduce the tension in her infant.
Ideally, the mother reflects back the child's worth and value and in other ways
responds appropriately to his or her needs. Lack of such responsivity is
often termed empathic failure. In the psychotherapeutic (see
psychotherapy) relationship, holding environment refers to a therapeutic
ambiance or setting that permits the patient to experience safety, thereby
facilitating psychotherapeutic work.
Source: Edgerton, Jane E. 1994. American Psychiatric Glossary, 7th Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press