The VAIMH Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® (IMHE®) is meant to recognize professionals who apply infant mental health principles to their work. It does not replace licensure, certification, or credentialing, but instead is meant as a specialization that complements one’s professional license and/or other credentials. VAIMH Endorsement® is cross-sector and multidisciplinary.

The categories of Endorsement® are:

I.    Infant Family Associate (IFA)
II.   Infant Family Specialist (IFS)
III.  Infant Mental Health Specialist (IMHS)
IV.   Infant Mental Health Mentor (IMHM). There are 3 designations at this category:

  • Clinical (IMHM-C)
  • Policy (IMHM-P)
  • Research/Faculty (IMHM-R/F)

Those who have earned Endorsement® have demonstrated a specialized education, work, in-service training, and reflective supervision/consultation experiences that have led to competency in the promotion and/or practice of infant mental health within the individual’s scope of practice. Detailed information about the requirements for specialized education, work, in-service training, and reflective supervision experiences are different in each category and can be found in the Competency Guidelines for the Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® at on the Endorsement page of the website.

Each Endorsed professional is required to renew Endorsement® annually to remain on the Active Endorsement® Registry. Renewal cycle is October 1st through September 30th .

The primary mission of the infant mental health profession is to promote and support nurturing relationships for all infants. The focus is on the development of the infant or toddler within the context of complex relationships. Services are comprehensive and intensive, covering multiple domains, including concrete needs, problem solving skills, and family relationships, as well as infant/toddler development, parent-infant interactions and developing attachment relationships. Services are supportive, affirming, and strengths-based. They are specifically designed to be respectful of the infant’s and family’s individuality, culture and ethnicity. VAIMH endorsed service providers/professionals work in a variety of settings to assure that all infants have opportunities for nurturing relationships essential for optimal growth and development. Depending on the Category of Endorsement, VAIMH endorsed service providers/professionals offer direct services to infants and families; supervise and train staff; consult with, collaborate, and educate other community professionals; advocate for services; develop best practice policies; and/or teach and conduct research in colleges and universities. All of these activities reflect a commitment to values that are the bedrock of infant mental health practice

List of Endorsed Professionals in Virginia

Infant Mental Health Basic Beliefs

  1. Optimal growth and development occur within nurturing relationships;
  2. The birth and care of a new baby offer a family the possibility of new relationships, growth and change;
  3. What happens in the early years affects the course of development across the life span;
  4. Early developing attachment relationships may be distorted or disturbed by parental histories of unresolved losses and traumatic life events;
  5. The therapeutic presence of an Infant Mental Health Specialist (Category III) may reduce the risk of relationship failure and offer the hopefulness of warm and nurturing parental responses.

For more information visit the Mission and Values of Infant Mental Health Service Providers/Professionals

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