What's the most important relationship you'll ever have? A best friend? A spouse? Maybe a mentor? None of the above.

What’s the most important relationship you’ll ever have? A best friend? A spouse? Maybe a mentor? None of the above. For the right answer, look all the way back to your very first caregiver.

“We now know that during the first few years of life, from ages zero to five, brain development is at its most rapid and crucial phase,” said Marcy Safyer, Ph.D., former director of Adelphi’s Institute for Parenting and former co-director of Adelphi’s Infant Mental Health-Developmental Practice master’s degree program.

During those early years, Dr. Safyer said, a child builds the critical foundation and capabilities for all subsequent development, and a secure attachment to a primary caregiver is at the heart of all that growth. “When there’s trauma in the context of a parent-child relationship—for example, in cases of maltreatment—it has devastating developmental consequences.”

That’s where Adelphi’s Institute for Parenting comes in. The institute is at the forefront of advancing the field of infant mental health through research, training and education, and also through providing direct service.

The institute’s staff clinicians see families who are involved in the child welfare system, criminal justice system or from the general community where there might be domestic violence in a family or a child is struggling to keep up developmentally.

“We focus on strengthening relationships and the quality of attachment between infants and toddlers and their parents,” Dr. Safyer said. “Our goal is to help children feel loved and worthwhile and help them start school ready to learn and make friends.”

This story is part of “Health and Wellness Through the Life Span,” from the 2018 issue of Adelphi University Magazine. Read the rest of the story here:

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
Strategic Communications Director 
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