Infant Mental Health Services

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The Merrill-Palmer Institute
Deborah J. Weatherston, MA
Kathie Albright, Ph.D.
Carol Oleksiak, MSW
Rev. 1997

Infant-Parent Center for Clinical Service and Training

Major operating assumptions that help us to positively approach families and protect the emotional well-being of babies and their families through infant mental health services.

  1. Parents want what is best for their babies, including a wish for health and to be strong.
  2. Infants and parents wish for attachment relationships that are strong and stable, consistent and mutually satisfying:
  3. The premature infant who is born too soon and compromised, longs for the warmth of his parents’ arms and the gentleness of parents’ touch
  4. The 3 month old longs for comfort, attention, affection; a smile, to be held, fed, content; warmth, consistent care
  5. The adolescent parent, pregnant with her second child, longs for a relationship that is mutually satisfying, strong
  6. The father of a baby with special needs longs for an attachment that is strong, satisfying, rewarding
  7. Through either past experiences, or current, parents must feel nurtured themselves in order to nurture their child/children. They must feel held in order to hold. They must be fed in order to feed. They must be comforted in order to comfort. Their own cries need to be heard in order to respond to the cries of their children. They must feel safe in order to protect others.
  8. Attachment relationships provide a secure base from which children grow physically, emotionally, cognitively and socially.
  9. Early relationships serve as prototypes for later relationships with friends, peers, husbands, wives, partners, helping professionals.
  10. Events in the lives of infants and their families in the first yeas of life are significant to development throughout the life span.
  11. The birth of a baby into a family offers the hopefulness of a new relationship and the possibility of positive growth and change. It is this promise that underlies our entry into each family
  12. ‘s life. We go carefully and with optimism, if they let us.
  13. All families have capacities. It is up to us to support them as they discover and develop.
  14. Primary caregivers who amplify pleasure, are affectionate and express loving feelings toward their children provide a cushion of support for later feelings of self-worth and confidence.
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