Specialized Training as an Infant Mental Health Specialist

Specialized Training as an Infant Mental Health Specialist

The opportunities for specialized training as an Infant Mental Health Specialist continue to expand.  The existing opportunities may be provided or supported by Infant Mental Health Associations, child and family focused non-profit organizations, and universities.  In general, the structure of these training programs may offer: discrete levels of training; tracks that focus on diverse career pathways for applying the training; and endorsement or post-graduate certificates to document completion of the training.

There is some diversity in who may qualify for these training programs. For example, Michigan’s Infant Mental Health Association  (http://www.mi-aimh.org) offers four levels of endorsement. One of the qualifications for each level of endorsement is level of education; ranging from a CDA (child development associate), Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degree.  By comparison, The Erickson Institute’s (http://www.erikson.edu)  certificate program enrolls experienced infant/family specialists and mental health professionals who are licensed mental health clinicians, credentialed early intervention (EI) providers, child development specialists, health professionals, and family support specialists with three years of experience in these fields. 

Looking across Infant Mental Health Specialist training programs:

The core content of the trsaining programs commonly include:  infant and child development, attachment theory, perinatal mental health, cultural competence, and socio-cultural influences, and a relationship-based approach to intervention. 

The clinical content focus of the training programs may include: theory and practice of assessment and intervention in infant-parent difficulties; identifying, intervening in, or collaborating with others to address troubled parent/child relationships; diagnostic classifications, and treatment approaches such as infant-parent psychotherapy, for example.

The training process may include trainees engaging in: practical clinical internship experiences, consultative services experience, traditional outpatient services in diverse settings, reflective practices, as well as clinical supervision and mentoring.  

(University of Washington, Erikson Institute http://www.erikson.edu, Michigan Infant Mental Health Association http://www.mi-aimh.org, University  of California – San Francisco http://www.infantparentprogram.org, University of Colorado http://www.ucdenver.edu,  University of Washington  http://www.cimhd.org, all retrieved October 2012)

There are training opportunities available across the country.  Explore those that may be offered in your state or community and that will help you pursue your interests in becoming an Infant or Infant-Family Mental Health specialist and early childhood mental health consultant. 


This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.