One of our main goals as infant mental health practitioners is to promote resilient, loving, and supportive attachment relationships between parents and children. These are the basis for the child’s sense of themselves as capable and whole and of the world – and the people in it – as safe and inviting. We know that a parent’s capacity to be reflective, to be curious and open to the child’s experience, is essential to the child’s sense of security. As a result, there is today in infant mental health practice a great deal of emphasis on the importance of reflection, particularly in highly stressed families where past and present threats abound.
This presentation will focus on the key components that allow reflection to flourish – in the parent and in the clinician-parent relationship - namely the relational foundations of reflection. These are the building blocks from which the capacity to know oneself and others emerges. This process depends first upon safety, or the relative absence of threat. A parent cannot think about or attend to their feelings or to those of their child when they are in survival mode.
Reflection also depends upon regulation, which accompanies safety, and allows for the relative quieting of body and mind that makes it possible to move out of the body and toward others. Once established, the development of trusting parent-clinician and parent-child relationships is possible. But without diminished threat and self-regulation, it is very difficult to move out fight or flight into meaningful social engagement. This trusting relationship then provides the scaffold for learning, discovery, and reflection. That is, a safe relationship makes it possible for the parent to discover themselves and their child.
This process begins with the clinician, whose sense of safety and capacity to remain regulated allow her to open herself to parents and children. This in turn makes it possible for her to help the parent and child feel safe and regulated and open to the therapeutic relationship, and to each other. Together these comprise the foundations for imagination, wondering, and reflection, all essential to loving, safe, and secure relationships. This presentation will use case material to discuss the ways clinicians can establish these foundations in work with parents and young children, as well as to anticipate and address cycles of rupture and repair.
Arietta Slade, Ph.D. is Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center, and Professor Emerita in the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at the City University of New York. An internationally recognized theoretician, clinician, researcher, and teacher, she has published widely on reflective parenting, the clinical implications of attachment theory, the development of parental mentalization, and the relational contexts of early symbolization, and regularly presents her work to national and international audiences. For the past 20 years she has been co-directing Minding the Baby an interdisciplinary reflective parenting home visiting program for high-risk mothers, infants, and their families, at the Yale Child Study Center and School of Nursing. This program is one of only 18 certified “evidence-based” home visiting programs in the United States. Dr. Slade is author, with Jeremy Holmes of Attachment in Therapeutic Practice (SAGE Publications, 2018), and editor, with Jeremy Holmes of the six volume set, Major Work on Attachment (SAGE Publications, 2013), with Elliot Jurist and Sharone Bergner, of Mind to Mind: Infant Research, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis (Other Press, 2008), and with Dennie Wolf, of Children at Play (Oxford University Press, 1994).
The New York City Early Childhood Mental Health Training & Technical Assistance Center (NYC-TTAC) provides regular high quality training on early childhood mental health while supporting multiple initiatives in the NYC area. TTAC is operated by the New York Center for Child Development (NYCCD) in collaboration with the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at the NYU Silver School of Social Work. All of their past trainings are listed along with links to the training handouts and youtube recordings of the webinars. All upcoming events can be found on their Events Page. Registration is easy and most offerings are free.
The Alaska Association of Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health (AK-AIMH) has listed this training for the benefit of Alaska's professionals as part of our three-year initiative Project Compass: Leading the Way to Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Workforce Development. Project Compass is funded by AK-AIMH members and donors, the Alaska Children's Trust, and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.
For more information and the link to register, please visit the TTAC's page on this webinar. You will receive a confirmation email that contains all the information needed to join the webinar.