Wayne State University

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IMH Dual Title Program Curriculm
Courses & Discription of Core Courses
Benefits of IMH Dual Title Program
Program ​Contacts

IMH Dual-Title Brochure

Infant Mental Health (IMH) is a multi-disciplinary field focused on the optimal development of infants and young children within the context of complex emotions and secure and nurturing relationships. IMH specialists work across various

settings and disciplines, such as social work, psychology, early childhood education, special education, social policy, nursing, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. 

The IMH Program at MPSI is unique. It coordinates graduate level education in IMH, offers professional development to individuals and agencies working on behalf of young children and families, and partners with community agencies to assist with research and program evaluation.  In 2012, MPSI created the first IMH Dual-Title Degree in the nation, in response to the field becoming more interdisciplinary and research-based. The dual-title offers specialized clinical and research training with full integration of infant mental health theory, assessment, treatment and practice throughout the student’s major 
program. Students working toward advanced degrees in Social Work, Nursing and Education are eligible. Graduate students in departments that do not offer this degree are welcome to take courses to increase their expertise in IMH. Undergraduate students are encouraged to take PSY 3430 and ELE 6090 to learn more about IMH.

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

IMH Dual-Title Curriculum is Designed to:

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

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

  • Integrate IMH principles into all practices with families.

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

  • Offer opportunities for reflection through supervisory and collegial relationships.

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). Masters students in the IMH dual-title degree program must complete their advanced year field placement in infant mental health, plus 14 credits of coursework; 12 in classroom courses, and 2 in an infant mental health seminar completed during fieldwork. Doctoral students must integrate infant mental health into their Qualifying Exams, thesis and dissertation. They also must complete 12 credits of coursework in classroom courses.

Courses in IMH Dual-Title Program

  • Infant Mental Health: Theory to Practice Across Early Childhood Settings

  • Infant and Family Mental Health Assessment

  • Infant Mental Health Practice

  • Psychology of Infant Behavior and Development

  • Infant and Toddler Developmental Assessment for Intervention Planning

Description of CORE Courses

ELE 7025 Infant Mental Health: Theory to Practice Across Early Childhood Settings (Spring Semester)
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 will be presented.

NUR 7880 Infant and Family Mental Health Assessment (Fall Semester)
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
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.

Benefits of IMH Dual-Title Program

The 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 an 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. Upon completion of the 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, parents, and parent-infant/young child relationships to identify capacities, risks, and relationship disturbances.

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


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 high academic standards. 

Program ​Contacts

Ann Stacks, PhD, LMFT IMH-E (IV), Director at (313) 664-2500 or amstacks@wayne.edu

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