- What is Infant Mental Health Practice?
- Why is Infant Mental Health Training Important?
- Who Should Participate in Infant Mental Health Training?
- About the Program
- Program Components
- Admission Requirements
- Program Location, Dates, and Times
- Curriculum Highlights
- Program Faculty
- Required Workshops
- Program Fees
- Credentialing Information and Continuing Education
What is Infant Mental Health?
The term Infant Mental Health (IMH) is a slight misnomer and also includes Early Childhood Mental Health. IMH can be understood as the developing capacity of the 0-5 year old child to experience, regulate and express emotions, form close and secure interpersonal relationships and explore the environment and learn within the psychological balance of the parent-infant relational system, as well as larger family, community and culture without serious disruption caused by harmful life events.
Recent neuropsychological research has shown that infants are born with their brains wired to be engaged in important nurturing and protective relationships. They come into the world with remarkable capacities to establish and regulate these relationships. Infants are surprisingly competent and endowed with predispositions toward attachment promoting behaviors. They are not the “blank slates” they were once thought to be. Infants possess an amazing repertoire of social and emotional capacities that are designed to give their parent information about their well-being and to actively behave in ways that modify and regulate the behavior of their parents. The infant’s capacities to execute these signaling behaviors have roots across developmental domains. In turn, infants seek emotional responsiveness from their parents and become disturbed when it is not forthcoming.
Although the infant’s contribution to the relationship with his parent is great, it cannot be separated from the context of the parent. The infant-parent relationship will suffer when infants fail to display behaviors or characteristics which elicit responsive caregiving as can be the case with some premature, drug-exposed or those that have developmental challenges. Sometimes it is parents who cannot modify their expectations because their early life was characterized by unmet needs, abandonment and maltreatment, or because current stressors like maternal depression, mental illness or domestic violence are present.
What is Infant Mental Health Practice?
Infant Mental Health Practice is an interdisciplinary field that represents a dramatic shift in clinical practice. IMH practice focuses on the development of 0-5 year olds within the context of the early parent-child relationship as the foundation for healthy social-emotional, cognitive, language and even physical development. IMH offers ways of conceptualizing early disruptions in the attachment process, and of organizing interventions. Its focus is on the mental health and relational dimensions of development that unfold in the context of other related domains of development, all of which are intimately and inextricably interlaced in infancy. Thus the dual thrust of IMH practice must be both parent-infant mental health and developmental practice.
Infant Mental Health specialists work within the context of the parent-child relationship to strengthen parental capacity while promoting both an understanding of the needs of infants and young children and their parents’ unique ability to meet those needs. The dimensions of service aim to meet the needs of families on multiple levels and in many settings and include a service continuum that includes both prevention and intervention.
This comprehensive and intensive approach integrates a range of methods and services that include emotional support, developmental/parent guidance, early relationship assessment, infant-parent psychotherapy, advocacy and concrete assistance. (Costa, 2000)
Why is Infant Mental Health Training Important?
Attachment theory tells us that the early parent-child relationship is the secure base from which children explore and learn about their world, and will serve as a model for future relationships. When the attachment relationship is impaired or disrupted, healthy development is at risk. From birth, infants begin to develop an understanding about themselves, their parents, and the world, based upon their experiences in their earliest relationships. These experiences with parents begin to determine the answers to such questions as “Am I loved or unloved?”, “Do my feelings and actions get felt and responded to?”, “Am I a worthwhile person?” and “Are others to be trusted or mistrusted?” For this reason, emotionally attuned and responsive positive early experiences with parents are essential for infants to come to know the world and themselves as fundamentally good. (Costa, 2000)
When the infant is not met by a warm, attuned, and available parent, his/her capacity for social relatedness and development along multiple lines can go awry just as when the parent is confronted with developmental difficulties in the infant her/his capacity to parent can be challenged. Moreover, recent brain research indicates that actual changes take place in the physical and chemical structures in the brain, so that the infant's experience of early caregiving that include failures of the early environment to provide adequate attunement and protection can have an enormous impact leading to depression, limited impulse control and aggression in later life. From this perspective, then, it becomes clear why it is essential to provide intervention to parents together with their infants, toddlers or preschoolers to promote the attachment relationship.
Despite the importance of development during this period and the costs of early derailment of the infant-caregiver relationship, there are a paucity of programs providing services to infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their parents. There are even fewer available training opportunities.
Who Should Participate in Infant Mental Health Training?
The emotional and behavioral challenges seen as children grow older are often related to gaps and lapses in the foundation of their development. These gaps can derail basic capacities to relate and communicate, share attention and self-regulate. Developmental disturbance can disrupt the formation of empathy and comprehension of the world around and the capacity to communicate thoughts and feelings with words, play and other symbols. The program's focus on understanding the foundations of development and early experiences makes sense for any clinician who is interested in training that will support and enhance their work with families and children at all ages.
This program is for interdisciplinary post master’s professionals from many different backgrounds such as Social Workers, Pediatricians, Psychiatrists, Neonatologists, Nurse Practitioners, Midwives , Speech Pathologists, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Obstetricians, Family Therapists, Mental Health Counselors, School Counselors, Child Life Specialists, , Physical Therapists, Early Childhood Educators, Child Care Providers, Occupational Therapists, and others who professionally impact the lives of families and children.
About the Program
The Institute for Parenting Post Graduate Program in Parent-Infant Mental Health is a 2-year intensive training program designed for clinicians, supervisors, consultants, and educators. This program is unique in its theory and research to practice emphasis, its grounding in infant and early childhood development, its cross-disciplinary scope and its practitioner practicality perspective. Rooted in the relational context of the work, the course of study embraces the complexity of the children and families served as well as the systems in which service is delivered. The program offers what the IMH clinician really needs to know to do the work. It is practice driven. In addition, the program aims to help the clinician formulate new and deeper ways to think about the why and how of practice.
-Ongoing Core Seminars
-Flexible Infant Mental Health Clinical Training
-Full Day Training Seminars with Distinguished National Experts in the Field of
Infant Mental Health Practice and Research
- Core Seminars: The overarching structure of the program is derived from a task analysis of what it is that the IMH clinician really does. The coursework is operational and practice driven in the context of conceptual and empirical depth and understanding of developmental processes and progressions which serve as the master map of the work. Beginning with initial contacts, intensive assessments, and moving on to clinical intervention and the reflective supervision process, coursework will include the key bodies of knowledge required to develop conceptual and research depth, understanding of developmental processes and progressions as well as the skills and competencies to conduct the essential components of parent-infant mental health and developmental practice. For example, included in the curriculum will be the development of the early parent-child relationship in the context of both typical and atypical child development. Although grounded in attachment theory, other theoretical perspectives such as psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, social learning and trauma theory will be integrated as well.
- Integrative Seminar This seminar offers participants the opportunity to further discuss clinical cases, integrate program content through discussion, examine their own work and build reflective capacity.
- Reflective Group Supervision: This supervision group is an opportunity to receive clinical consultation and apply the theory and practice techniques of dyadic treatment from a relational perspective.
- Required Full day Trainings: There are 5 required workshops for the program. Training on a variety of relevant topics will be offered. Each fall begins with a “Master” in the field providing a full day workshop that kicks off our professional development series for the year. All the full day training topics are chosen to enhance and supplement the curriculum of the training program.
Human Services Professionals who have completed an Advanced Degree, e.g., MSW, PhD, Nursing, Speech Pathology.
- Proof of degree, i.e., copy of transcript or diploma from an advanced degree program in social work, mental health or another human services discipline.
- Current resume.
- Letter of recommendation from a supervisor or colleague who is familiar with your work.
- Brief statement about what you hope to gain from this program.
Program Location, Dates, and Times
Year one of the programs begins in mid-October and continues through June.
Year two will follow a similar schedule-specific dates TBA.
Garden City campus of Adelphi University
6:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
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||14, 21, 28
||5, 12, 19, 26
||2, 9, 16
Intake, Observation, and Assessment
- Introduction to Infant Mental Health Assessment, treatment and ConsultationBeing family centered/family driven
- Parental reactions to a child with atypical development
- Principles of interviewing and observation
- Clinical and qualitative aspects of assessment
- Psychometric constructs of standardized assessment
- Screening and assessment instruments for identification of developmental progress, concerns and delays including administration, scoring and interpretation of selected instruments
- Models of professional leaning, contributions of the disciplines represented on IMH/ EI teams and participating as a team member
Formulation, Diagnosis, and Referral
- Translating assessment and diagnostic information into a treatment plan
- Specific treatment paradigms: parent-infant psychotherapy, developmental guidance
- DIR, ABA/behavioral paradigms, interactive guidance, play therapy, attachment–based interventions
- Models of intervention: psychodynamic, behavioral/cognitive-behavioral, family systems
- Neurodevelopmental treatment, relational and play based speech language therapy, special education (task analysis and behavioral plans, developmental teaching, TEACCH, etc.)
- The use of self and reflective supervision, transference/countertransference and the subjective dimensions of treatment
- Working with hard to engage parents
- Culture, diversity and class and effective intervention
- The therapeutic encounter
- Coaching and working with families
- Evidence based models
- Treatment contributions from across disciplines: Sensory Integration, sound therapies,
Gilbert Foley, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor of School Clinical-Child Psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University and Coordinator of its Infancy and Early Childhood Track. He also serves as Consulting Clinical Director of the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Treatment Program of The New York Center for Child Development (NYCCD) and coordinator of psychology internship training. Dr. Foley has focused his entire career as a psychologist and educator primarily in the field of infancy and early childhood.
Marcy Safyer MSW, LCSW-R, is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Michigan joint program in Psychology and Social Work and the Director of the Adelphi University Institute for Parenting. As a clinician with more than 30 years of experience, she has worked broadly with adults and children with a focus on young and developing families and has extensive training in working with very young children who have experienced trauma. Ms. Safyer has taught and trained clinical social workers and other professionals on topics such as psychopathology, attachment theory, and the impact of trauma on the development of young children. In addition, her research and clinical interests are in the development of effective intervention programs for families in foster care that include integrating infant mental health knowledge and practice throughout the child welfare system.
Erica Willheim, Ph.D., is Assistant Professional Psychologist in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, and Clinical Director of the Family PEACE Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She serves as an instructor on the faculties of both the Parent-Infant Psychotherapy Training Program at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, and the Infant-Parent Studies program at the Institute for Infants, Children, and Families at the Jewish Board for Family and Children's Services. In addition to private practice in New York City, Dr. Willheim works with various agencies as a consultant regarding the effects of early childhood trauma, and as a nationally endorsed trainer in Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP).
Program Fees include:
Nonrefundable Application Fee: $15
ongoing weekly Course seminar Fee: $3,550 per year
Trainings/Workshops: (discounted price for participants for 5 workshops): $450 per year
Program cost: $4,000 per year
Total Cost for the two years: $8,015
||Download the application form (PDF 156KB) and mail along with $15 registration fee and supporting documents to:
Marcy Safyer, Director
Adelphi University Institute for Parenting
P.O. Box 701
Garden City, NY 11530
Please make your check payable to Adelphi University.
Credentialing Information and Continuing Education
- Social Work
This program has been submitted for approval for a total of 100 continuing education/training/contact hours.
Although non-credit bearing, this Continuing Education program is the equivalent of 7 credits.
Social work CEU’s are given through the New York State Chapter of the NASW.
CASAC training hours: Program information has been submitted for approval to the New York State Office of Addiction and Substance Abuse Services Education and Training for credits toward recredentialing.
Education hours/credits: May be received at the discretion of your school. We are happy to provide any information you may need to help towards your approval
Psychology CE credits: Adelphi University is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education credits for psychologists through the Adelphi University School of Social Work. Adelphi University maintains responsibility for the program and its content. Attendance to the entire conference is required. No partial credit is given. To apply for CE credits, contact the Institute for Parenting at 516.237.8513.
This program is offered for 10.0 CEUs at the intermediate level professional area.
Adelphi University Institute for Parenting is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP™) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.
Nursing Contact Hours: This activity has been submitted to the Arizona Nurses' Association for approval to award contact hours. The Arizona Nurses Association is accredited as an approver of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.
*The University reserves the right to cancel this or any program due to insufficient enrollment. Registrants will be notified and full refunds will be issued.
For additional information about this program, please contact:
Marcy Safyer, LCSW-R
Linen Hall, Room 11
p - 516.877.3060
e - email@example.com
The Institute for Parenting
1 South Avenue
P.O. Box 701
Garden City, NY 11530-0701
f - 516.237.8512