Endorsement Competency Guidelines
INTRODUCTION TO VAIMH COMPETENCY GUIDELINES AND ENDORSEMENT®
The Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (VAIMH) is an interdisciplinary, professional organization established to promote and support the optimal development of infants, very young children, and families through relationship-focused workforce development and advocacy efforts.
Incorporated in 1977, MI-AIMH has offered infant mental health training and education opportunities to individuals and groups for almost 35 years. Hundreds of service providers participate annually in state, local, or regional trainings that are designed to build a more skillful and confident workforce. Nearly 500 professionals attend the highly acclaimed MI-AIMH Conference every other year. Many more professionals benefit from MI-AIMH publications such as the Infant Mental Health Journal and The Infant Crier, as well as materials and learning tools that support early relationship development. Of additional importance, all members have access to up-to-date training DVDs and videos in the MI-AIMH media library, featuring nationally and internationally known experts in the infancy and infant mental health fields. With an annual membership of more than 500 infant and family professionals and 13 affiliate chapters, MI-AIMH is proud of its role as an infant mental health training association.
Effective 2010, through a license agreement with the MI-AIMH, the Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health (VAIMH) has legal authorization to use Michigan’s Competency and Endorsement for use in Virginia.
Inspired by the work of Selma Fraiberg and her colleagues who coined the phrase infant mental health (Fraiberg, 1980), practitioners in Michigan designed services to identify and treat developmental and relationship disturbances in infancy and early parenthood. The pioneering infant mental health specialists were challenged to understand the emotional experiences and needs of infants while remaining curious and attuned to parental behavior and mental health needs within the context of developing parent-child relationships. Specialists worked with parents and infants together, most often in clients’ homes but also in clinics and settings for assessment and service delivery. [Intervention and] treatment strategies varied, including concrete assistance, emotional support, developmental guidance, early relationship assessment and support, infant parent psychotherapy, and advocacy (Weatherston, 2001).
As infant mental health practice evolved in Michigan, clinicians, university faculty, and policymakers became increasingly concerned about the training needs of professionals for quality service in the infant mental health field. Competency, as determined by expert consensus, required the development of a unique knowledge base, clinical assessment, and [intervention/]treatment skills specific to infancy and early parenthood, and [reflective] clinical supervisory experiences that would lead to best practice. These basic components were approved by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental health (MI-AIMH) Board of Directors in 1983 and outlined in the MI-AIMH Training Guidelines (1986) to guide preservice, graduate, and in-service training of infant mental health specialist in institutes, colleges, universities, and work settings.