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Institute for Parenting


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

A two-year intensive training program for professionals.

Overview of our october 2017 – june 2019 Program

New cohort beginning October 2019 – June 2021. Applications are rolling. Courses will be confirmed when minimum enrollment is reached.
Early bird special: Register before April 30, 2019 and get free admission to our May and July workshops in New York City!

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. What makes this program unique is 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, this course of study embraces the complexity of the children and families served, as well as the systems in which service is delivered. This program is practice-driven, offering what an IMH clinician really needs to know to do the work. 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, as it 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 their 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 engage in important nurturing and protective relationships. They come into the world with remarkable capacities to establish and regulate these relationships. Far from the “blank slates” they were once thought to be, infants are endowed with predispositions toward attachment-promoting behaviors. Infants possess an amazing repertoire of social and emotional capacities that are designed to give their parent information about their well-being.

Although the infant’s contribution to the relationship with their 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 infants who are premature  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 are overwhelming.

What is Infant Mental Health Practice?

Infant Mental Health Practice is an interdisciplinary field that 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, linguistic and even physical development. IMH offers ways of conceptualizing early disruptions in the attachment process, as well as ways 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. 

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 and their parents’ unique ability to meet those needs. 

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?”, “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)

Despite the importance of development during this period and the long-term costs of early derailment of the infant-caregiver relationship, there is 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?

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, 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
  • Development in a Relational Context: Starting at Conception
  • Formulation and Diagnosis: DC: 0-5
  • 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: 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: Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is a treatment approach for children aged 0-5 and their caregivers who have experienced trauma. The treatment is based in attachment theory but also integrates psychodynamic, developmental, trauma, social learning, and cognitive behavioral theories. 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.

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 is 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
  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 received.

When and Where

Year one of the program begins in October 2019 and continues through June 2020. Year two begins in October 2020 and continues through June 2021.

The program meets Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.


Adelphi University Garden City Campus
1 South Avenue
Garden City, NY 11530                   

Curriculum Highlights

  • Introduction to Infant Mental Health Theory and Practice
  • Intake, Observation, Screening, and Assessment
  • Caregiver-Child Relationship Development and Assessment
  • Translating Assessment into a Treatment Plan
  • Cultural Sensitivity and Family-Centered Practice
  • Trauma Screening and Intervention
  • Parent Support
  • Models of Intervention / Service Delivery Systems
  • Developmental Screening
  • Evidence-Based Models
  • Treatment Paradigms
  • Formulation and Diagnosis: DC:0-5
  • Cross-Disciplinary Collaborations
  • Reflective Supervisio
  • Transference-Countertransference
  • Termination

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

Erica Willheim, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor at the NYU Child Study Center, recently arriving from her position as 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 Parent-Infant Psychotherapy Training Program at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. 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).

Required Full-Day Workshops

Required workshops are included in the program fees. Workshop dates are TBD.

Program Fees

Nonrefundable Application Fee: $15

Course Seminar Fee: $3,750 per year

Trainings/Workshops (discounted price for 5 workshops): $450 per year

Program Cost: $4,200 per year, plus a one-time $15 Application Fee (Total Cost for the two years: $8,415)

Application and Registration

Apply by Mail:

Complete the application form and mail it along with the $15 application fee and supporting documents to:

Adelphi University Institute for Parenting
P.O. Box 701
Garden City, NY 11530

Please make your check payable to Adelphi University.

Continuing Education

This program has been approved for a total of 200 NYSED continuing education hours.

  • Social Work
  • LMHC
  • LMFT

Social Work CEs: 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.

Mental Health Counselors Adelphi University School of Social Work is recognized by the NYS Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors. #MHC-0068. Please be advised that the learner must complete all parts of the course in order to earn the certificate for contact hours.

Marriage and Family Therapists Adelphi University is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider for continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists. #MFT-0038. Please be advised that the learner must complete all parts of the course in order to earn the certificate for contact hours.

Follow the Institute for Parenting at:   

For further information, please contact:

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

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