Institute for Parenting

Post Master’s Training Program in Parent-Infant Mental Health and Trauma

A two-year intensive training program for professionals.

Overview for the 2017-2019 Program

About the Program

The Institute for Parenting Post Master’s Program in Parent-Infant Mental Health  and Trauma is a 2-year intensive training program designed for clinicians, supervisors, and consultants. 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.

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, 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 who are premature, drug-exposed or who 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 thrust of IMH practice must be developmentally and trauma informed.

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, as well as 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.

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 interactions 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 the infant’s developmental difficulties, then 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, in response to experiences. This means 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 later in 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 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, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other licensed professionals whose work impacts the lives of young children and families.

Program Components

Ongoing Core Seminars Years I and II

  • Introduction to Infant Mental Health Theory and Practice
  • Comprehensive Relationship Based Assessment
  • Infant-Toddler Developmental Assessment Intensive (IDA)
  • Development in a Relational Context: Starting at Conception
  • Formulation and Diagnosis: DC:O-5
  • Parent-Infant Mental Health and Trauma, Treatment with reflective group supervision
  • Introduction to Child-Parent Psychotherapy Intensive
  • Full Day Training Seminars with distinguished national infant mental health, developmental practice and trauma experts

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP): Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is a treatment approach for children aged 0-5 who have experienced trauma. The treatment is based in attachment theory but also integrates psychodynamic, developmental, trauma, social learning, and cognitive behavioral theories. Sessions include parent-child dyads. The primary goal of CPP is to support and strengthen the relationship between a child and his or her caregiver as a way to heal their trauma and restore a child’s sense of safety, and improve attachment quality, cognitive, behavioral, and social functioning. (This training will be scheduled during the summer after the first year. Participants will have the option of becoming rostered to provide CPP, however this process is longer than the program and participants will need to continue supervision after the program ends. There is an extra charge for the supervision for those who choose to continue to become rostered.)
  • The Infant-Toddler Developmental Assessment (IDA): IDA is unique in that it is an assessment tool that is multidisciplinary regardless of one’s scope of practice. It is a tool that includes a set of processes and procedures that include the Provence Profile which was developed by Sally Provence, MD. The IDA provides a range of procedures for the collection, review and integration of information. Parents are partners in this assessment. The Provence Profile examines eight developmental domains: the traditional domains that assess skills: gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, language & communication, and self-help, plus relationships to persons, emotions and feeling states, and coping. (This training is a two-day intensive and will be scheduled with participants after the program begins. Students have the option of being certified to perform Infant/toddler developmental assessments by administering the assessment on video and being certified by the instructor.
  • Required Full-Day Trainings: There are five required workshops for the program in year I and five in year II. 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. The price of all trainings are included in the course fees.

Admission Requirements

  1. Proof of Degree, i.e. copy of transcript or diploma from an advanced degree program in a human services discipline (e.g., MSW, PhD, Nursing, Speech Pathology).
  2. Current résumé.
  3. Letter of recommendation from a supervisor or colleague who is familiar with your work.
  4. Brief statement about what you hope to gain from this program (about a page).

Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

Class size will be limited.

Please note: Applications will not be considered until ALL materials are submitted.

When and Where

Year one of the program begins in October 2017 and continues through June 2018. Year two, 2018-2019 begins in September 2018 and continues through June 2019.


Adelphi University Manhattan Center
75 Varick Street
New York, NY 10013                     


Year One (2017-2018): Tuesday Evenings, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

October 2017 10, 17, 24
November 2017 7, 14, 28
December 2017 5, 12, 19
January 2018 16, 23, 30
February 2018 6, 13, 27
March 2018 6, 13, 20, 27
April 2018 10, 17, 24
May 2018 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
June 2018 5, 12, 19

Year Two (2018-2019): Tuesday Evenings, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

September 2018 4, 11, 18, 25
October 2018 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
November 2018 6, 13, 27
December 2018 4, 11, 18
January 2019 15, 22, 29
February 2019 5, 12, 26
March 2019 5, 19, 26
April 2019 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
May 2019 7, 14, 21, 28
June 2019 4, 11, 18

Curriculum Highlights

Intake, Observation and Assessment

  • Introduction to Infant Mental Health relational assessment, treatment and consultation
  • Family centered practice
  • Parental reactions to a child with atypical development
  • Principles of interviewing and observation
  • Clinical and qualitative aspects of assessment
  • Psychometric constructs of standardized assessment
  • Observational assessments
  • Screening and assessments for trauma, cognitive impairment
  • Parental capacity to Parent
  • Screening and assessment instruments for identification of developmental progress, concerns and delays including administration, scoring and interpretation of selected instruments such as the Crowell, Infant-Toddler Development Assessment (IDA) and a range of screens for depression, trauma, etc.

Formulation, Diagnosis and Referral

  • Translating assessment and diagnostic information into a treatment plan
  • Specific treatment paradigms: parent-infant psychotherapy, developmental guidance DIR, video interaction 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
  • Evidence- /based evidence-informed models
  • Evidence based models
  • Treatment contributions from across disciplines: sensory integration, speech therapy
  • Termination

The coursework in this program meets some of the competencies for Endorsement through the New York State Association for Infant Mental Health


Marcy Safyer, Ph.D., LCSW-R, IMH-E® IV-C, is a NYS-AIMH Endorsed Infant Mental Health Specialist 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 at-risk young children and their parents such as those in foster care or the criminal justice system. She is also the founding president of the New York State Association of Infant Mental Health.


Joaniko Kohchi, MPhil, LCSW, IMH-E® (IV-C), is a NYS-AIMH Endorsed Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist with both clinical and training experience spanning several regions of the United States. Ms. Kohchi focuses on children, families, and adults who have survived traumatic events, often leading to out-of-home care and court involvement, and has long experience implementing Child-Parent Psychotherapy. Ms. Kohchi has worked in early care and educational settings, as well as in PK-12 schools for students with typical and atypical development, providing direct service to children and families, consultation to staff, and supervision to interns, externs, fellows, post-docs, and residents. Ms. Kohchi has served as an expert witness in several states, and has enjoyed appointments as clinical and research faculty. Ms. Kohchi is Co-President of the New York Zero-to-Three Network and is an original member of the Association of Infant Mental Health in Tennessee and a member of the New York State Association of Infant Mental Health.

Gilbert Foley, Ed.D. IMH-E® IV-C, is a NYS-AIMH Endorsed Infant Mental Health Specialist, recently retired from his position as an Associate Professor of School Clinical-Child Psychology at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He is the co-director of the Infant Mental Health and Developmental Practice Federally funded training program at Adelphi University. 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). Dr. Foley has focused his entire career as a psychologist and educator primarily in the field of infancy and early childhood.

Erica Willheim, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and Clinical 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).

Judith Solomon, Ph.D., is internationally recognized for her pioneering research and training in attachment and caregiving, including the discovery and delineation of the disorganized attachment category and the first longitudinal study of infants in separated and divorced families. She has developed key measures of caregiving and child attachment, including the Caregiving Interview, the Attachment Doll Play Projective Assessment, and the Maternal Helplessness Questionnaire. Dr. Solomon is the first editor of Attachment Disorganization, (Guilford Publications, 1999) and Disorganized Attachment and Caregiving (Guilford Publications, 2011). She is also a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in the area of infant and early childhood mental health and parent-child psychotherapy. She received specialized training in Infant Parent Psychotherapy at the University of California, San Francisco and is the former Director of Clinical Training and Supervision of the Child FIRST program in Bridgeport, CT.

Required Full-Day Workshops

Dates are still TBD

Program Fees

Nonrefundable Application Fee: $15
Course Seminar Fee: $3,750 per year
Trainings/Workshops (discounted price for participants for 5 workshops): $450 per year
Program cost: $4,215 per year, plus a one-time Application Fee (Total cost for the two years: $8,415)

Disclaimer: 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.

Application and Registration

» Download the program application

Complete the application form and mail it, it along with $15 application fee,  proof of degree, résumé and brief statement to:

Marcy Safyer, Ph.D., Director
Adelphi University
Institute for Parenting
P.O. Box 701
Garden City, NY 11530

Students who have been accepted to the program can register online.


Credentialing Information and Continuing Education

  • Social Work
  • Nursing
  • Education
  • Psychology
  • NBCC

This program has been approved for a total of 100 NYSED continuing education credits/units/hours.

Social Work CEUs: Adelphi University’s School of Social Work is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0032.

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 re credentialing.

Psychology CE credits: Adelphi University’s School of Social Work is approved by the American Psychological Association to offer continuing education credits for psychologists. 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.

NBCC Credits/Hours:
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: Some activities have 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. Please check each individual training.

*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 further information, please contact:

The Institute for Parenting
Linen Hall, Lower Level Room 8
p - 516.237.8513
e -

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