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MPSI's Long History of Training in Infant Mental Health                                   IMH Dual-Title Brochure

MPSI has a long history of offering advanced training in infant mental health (IMH). From 1988 to 2012, we granted more than 120 Graduate Certificates in IMH, in conjunction with the Colleges of Education, Science (Department of Psychology), and Nursing and the School of Social Work. Many of these certificate holders have become leaders in Michigan and have influenced legislative policy on the well-being of very young children and families.

In response to the field becoming more interdisciplinary and research-based, we now offer a Dual-Title Degree in Infant Mental Health. The IMH Dual-Title Degree prepares clinicians, educators and researchers to be well-versed in research and practice. Students graduate from the program as research-informed clinicians or clinically-informed researchers who have a deeper understanding of applied research and the needs of community agencies and practitioners.

Infant mental health theory, assessment, and treatment are fully integrated into all dual-title students' major area of study. The IMH Dual-Title Degree is aligned with guidelines established for infant mental health programs and is based on competencies established by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH, 2000, 2003).

Benefits of the IMH Dual-Title Program

The IMH Dual-Title program offers many advantages to both clinical and doctoral students whose goal is to work with and study very young children and their families. Students who earn the IMH Dual-Title Degree and become practitioners are well positioned to be competitive in the job market, are prepared to work in cross-disciplinary teams, understand evidence-based treatments and their importance, and have a solid understanding of both research and clinical work with infants and families. Students who earn the IMH Dual-Title and become researchers or university faculty are also at an advantage because they have an understanding of the complexities of the field in which their science is being translated and a greater ability to ask research questions that are timely for the field. 

Upon completion of the IMH Dual-Title Program, students will be able to:

  • Synthesize knowledge about theories and research relevant to infant mental health practice, including pregnancy and early parenting, infant development, relationship-based practice, attachment, and disorders of infancy and early childhood.

  • Demonstrate expertise related to the infant mental health service delivery model and its use in clinical and classroom-based intervention and research.

  • Provide evidence-based practice interventions to families and their infants who are experiencing complex risk factors.

  • Demonstrate expertise in observation and assessment of infants/young children, caregivers, and caregiver-infant/young child relationships to identify capacities, risks, and relationship disturbances.

  • Engage in reflective practice consistent with the field of infant mental health.

  • Demonstrate competence in research design and methods relevant to the field of infant mental health.

IMH Dual-Title Curriculum

Wayne State students earning an MSW or Ph.D. in Social Work, an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education or a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, or a PhD or DNP in Nursing can earn a Dual-Title Degree in Infant Mental Health. For each discipline, the program is configured somewhat differently. However all students must complete the following 5 courses:

ELE 7025 Infant Mental Health: Theory to Practice Across Early Childhood Settings (Spring Semester, 2 credits)

Provides students with an in-depth understanding of the field of infant mental health, with a focus on attachment theory and the 5 pillars of infant mental health work. Research-based information on infant mental health practices applied to a variety of early childhood setting is presented.

NUR 7880 Infant and Family Mental Health Assessment (Fall Semester, 2 credits)
An overview of both formal and informal assessment methods used to assess infant social-emotional development, parent mental health and parent-infant relationships from the attachment perspective. Students will become familiar with assessment methods through lecture, video and practical use.

SW 7010 Infant Mental Health Practice (Winter Semester, 2 credits)
Focuses on the relationship between theory, assessment and practice in the field of infant mental health with specific focus on evidence-based interventions used by infant mental health specialists working with infants and families.

PSY 7425: Infant Behavior and Development (Fall Semester, 3 credits)

Provides students with a strong foundation in child development from the prenatal period through the toddler years and implications for parenting, programming, and care. 

ELE 7035: Infant and Todder Developmental Assessment for Intervention Planning (Winter Semester, 3 credits)

Students gain a more thorough understanding of typical development by learning to administer, score and share results of the Bayley-III 

In addition to the above courses students enrolled in the MSW program must complete their advanced year field placement at an infant mental health agency and enroll in the IMH Seminar for 1 credit (SW 8883 and SW 8884) each semseter of their field placement. During the seminar students are assigned readings, present cases, observe a family and infant with no identified risks, and participate in reflective supervision. Infant mental health must be incorporated into doctoral students' qualifying examinations and must be the focus of their dissertation research. Doctoral students are also encouraged to attend MPSI bi-monthly research colloquia and to present their research at conferences, including the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health Conference. 

Coursework and clinical/research experiences are designed to 

  • Increase students' understanding of infant behavior and development within the context of family, community and culture and enhance their understanding of early relationship development and the complexity of early parenthood.

  • Provide an interdisciplinary framework for graduate students to recognize and strengthen family capacities and to identify and reduce family risks.

  • Assist students in integrating IMH principles into all practices with families.

  • Enhance IMH practice and research through structured observations, the use of infant and family assessment instruments, skillful listening, and empathic responses.

  • Offer opportunities for reflection through supervisory and collegial relationships.


To be admitted to the IMH Dual-Title Degree Program, students must first be formally admitted and pursuing a graduate degree in Social Work, Education or Nursing. Following admission to the major program students should contact their academic advisor and Carla Barron to discuss incorporating the dual-title into their Plan of Work and to complete a Change of Status form. Students admitted into the Dual-Title Degree Program must maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher in their infant mental health courses.

For More Information Contact:

Ann Stacks, Ph.D., LMFT IMH-E®(IV), Director at (313) 664-2516
or amstacks@wayne.edu

Carla Barron, MSW, LMSW, IMH-E® (IV), Clinical Coordinator at (313) 664-2528
or carlacbarron@wayne.edu

Carolyn Dayton, MSW, Ph.D. LP, IMH-E® (IV), Associate Director at carolyn.dayton@wayne.edu