Infant Mental Health: Theory to Practice©

Multi-Disciplinary Training

Training Description

A ten-session, multidisciplinary training on the theory and practice of Infant Mental Health. Focus on attachment and psychodynamic theoretical foundations, reflective capacity, trauma, separations and loss, assessment, intervention and the social/emotional/attachment development from ages 0-3 years. Training is both didactic and reflectively experiential.

Course Objectives

  • Gain a clear and deep understanding of fundamental theories of Infant Mental Health, Attachment Theory, and Social/Emotional/Attachment Development for children 0-3 years old.
  • Gain exposure and practice in working from an Infant Mental Health perspective when serving children 0-3 years old with their parent/caregiver.
  • Gain exposure to assessment and diagnostic criteria in the field of Infant Mental Health from commonly used and rigorously studied tools (eg: Emotional Availability Scales) and the diagnostic manual for infants, the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood: Revised Edition (DC:0-5)
  • Engage in the practice of self-reflection and awareness in order to notice countertransferential issues and one’s own “ghost from the nursery” (Fraiberg) that arise when working with children 0-3 years old and their caregivers.
  • Meets multiple training competencies for the New York State Association for Infant Mental Health Endorsement.


New York State, and the Rochester area specifically are experiencing an increased valuing of and demand for Infant Mental Health specialists in all disciplines. Fortunately, The New York State Association for Infant Mental Health’s joined the national trend by adopting The Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health’s Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, RelationshipFocused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health®. The Endorsement® system is the premiere, global effort that identifies best practice competencies across disciplines and settings, offering multiple career pathways for professional development in the infant, early childhood and family field. This course aims to meet many of the training competency criteria for the New York State Infant Mental Health Endorsement of 30 hours of Infant Mental Health training and will allow professionals to pursue this post-degree specialization and credential; a specialization and credential in high demand in the Rochester area with 1,000’s of children 0-3 years old and their parents impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Please visit for further details about the trajectory of Infant Mental Health across the state and the Endorsement process.


This course is applicable for professionals and current students with a strong curiosity, interest and possible current practice in working with parents and infants/young children from a deep, clinical perspective. Additionally, clinicians and professionals may be interested in taking this course in order to be prepared for the NY State Infant Mental Health Endorsement that will be rostering Infant Mental Health Specialists from multiple disciplines, adding to qualified and well-trained professionals in our community. Finally, professionals who work as leaders, advocates, and policymakers in infant and young child serving professions will find this training useful in embedding best practices in their particular disciplines and organizations. These disciplines, fields, and professions include nurses, child-life specialists, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, policymakers, physicians, home visiting professionals, therapists, clinical supervisors, child welfare, attorneys for children, early childhood educators, and program directors.

Coursework Details

This course focuses on attachment theory, Infant Mental Health, Social-Emotional Development of children 0-3 years old, the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences, in particular, trauma and attachment disruptions, assessment, and diagnosis of the parent-infant relationship and the social-emotional and attachment health of the infant.

Weatherston (2000) highlights the tenets of Infant Mental Health that are guideposts for this course:

  1. Optimal growth and development occur within nurturing relationships.
  2. The birth and care of a baby offer a family the possibility of new relationships, growth and change.
  3. What happens in the early years affects the course of development across the life span.
  4. Early developing attachment relationships may be distorted or disturbed by parental histories of unresolved losses and traumatic life events (“ghosts in the nursery”)
  5. The therapeutic presence of an Infant Mental Health specialist may reduce the risk of relationship failure and offer the hopefulness of warm and nurturing parental responses.


SPCC has a deep commitment to building multi-disciplinary Infant Mental Health Capacity in Western New York, including making the training as accessible as possible. Our currently scheduled trainings are generously funded through the Greater Rochester Health Foundation. To discuss customized offerings, please email

Schedule of Offered Trainings

This ten-session, training is typically offered twice per year, with the first session beginning in the third week of January, the second session beginning the second week in July and the third session beginning the second week in September.  The training offers 15 hours of face to face training and includes approximately 6 hours of independent learning (e.g.: assigned readings, learning exercises) outside of meeting times. Please note that Continuing Education Credits are not available for readings and learning activities.



Alana Russotti, LCSW, IECMH-E®

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Beth Russell, LMSW

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Jenny Mural, LCSW-R, IMH-E®

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Kenya Malcolm, PhD, IECMH-E®

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Lanh Durlak, LMHC, NCC, IMH-E®

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Leah Elliott, LCSW, IMH-E

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Melissa M. Parrish, MSed

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Rhonda Walker, MSW

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Samantha Colson, MSW, MS, IMH-E®

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

Sarah Fitzgibbons, LMHC, MT-BC, IMH-E®

IECMH Trainer and Consultant

“Infant mental health” is defined as the healthy social and emotional development of a child from birth to 3 years; and a growing field of research and practice devoted to the promotion of healthy social and emotional development, prevention of mental health problems; and treatment of the mental health problems of very young children in the context of their families.
– Zero To Three

IMH Competencies Covered

SPCC’s Infant Mental Health Training© covers aspects of the following NYS Association for Infant Mental Health Endorsement® Competencies:

Theoretical Foundations

Law, Regulation & Policy

Systems Expertise

Direct Service Skills

Working with Others