Infant Mental Health Dual Title Program

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MPSI has a long history of offering advanced training in infant mental health (IMH). The IMH Dual-Title Degree (IMH-DT) prepares current Wayne State University graduate students to be well-versed in IMH research and practice. Students graduate from the program as research-informed clinicians who learn how to translate and critique research in ways that effectively address the needs of diverse children and caregivers; or clinically informed researchers who have a deeper understanding of applied research and the needs of community agencies and practitioners.

Students whose programs have not adopted the IMH-DT can enroll in IMH coursework and participate in IMH faculty research labs. In addition, graduate students at other universities can enroll in our courses for credit at their home institution; and professionals who have earned a bachelor's degree can enroll in our courses as a guest student.

Benefits of the IMH Dual-Title Program
The IMH-DT program offers many advantages to graduate students whose goal is to work with and on behalf of very young children, their families, and caregivers. Students who earn the IMH-DT 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, integrate a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens, and have a solid understanding of both research and clinical work with infants and caregivers. Students who earn the IMH-DT and work in policy, community, leadership, or research are also at an advantage because they understand the complexities of the field in which their science is being translated and a greater ability to ask research questions and advocate for policy and practices that are timely for the field and address the needs of young children and caregivers within the urban community.
IMH-DT Application
IMH-DT Video - Current faculty, students and employers talk about benefits of MPSI program
Ann M. Stacks, PhD, Director, Infant Mental Health Program
Questions? Contact Carla Barron, PhD at: 

Upon completion of the IMH-DT 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, the impact of race and inequities, 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.
  • Demonstrate expertise in observation and assessment of infants/young children, caregivers, and caregiver-infant/young child relationships to identify capacities, risks, and relationship disruptions.
  • Engage in reflective practice that includes examination of values, beliefs, and biases related to race, ethnicity, gender, parenting, family, and development. 
  • Implement evidence-based practice interventions to families, caregivers, and their infants who are experiencing complex risk factors (clinical students).
  • Demonstrate competence in research design and methods relevant to the field of infant mental health.

IMH Dual-Title Curriculum
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 competency guidelines established by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH, 2000, 2003). IMH Faculty

Wayne State students earning an MSW or PhD in Social Work, a PhD in Psychology 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 courses:

Infant Mental Health Theory to Practice (Spring Semester)
This course provides students with an in-depth understanding of the field of infant mental health, with a focus on attachment theory and the tenets of infant mental health work. Research-based information on infant mental health practices applied to a variety of early childhood settings is presented.

Infant and Family Mental Health Assessment (Fall Semester)
This course provides an overview of 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 consider how race and diversity can impact assessment and will become familiar with assessment methods through lecture, video, and practical use.

Infant Mental Health Treatment (Winter Semester)
This course focuses on the relationship between theory, assessment, and practice in the field of IMH with specific emphasis on evidence-based interventions used by infant mental health specialists working with infants and families. Opportunities to deepen knowledge and understanding of IMH policy and advocacy and the impact of race, diversity, and oppression on treatment access and service use will be integrated throughout.

Infant Behavior and Development (Winter Semester)
This course provides students with a strong foundation in child development from the prenatal period through the toddler years and implications for parenting, programming, and care.

Master of Social Work students who are enrolled in the Interpersonal Practice concentration are also required to take the two-semester IMH Seminar during their advanced year. During the seminar students are assigned readings, present cases, observe a family and infant, reflect upon and consider their own emotional response, values, beliefs, and biases that are evoked when working with very young children and their caregivers. For MSW students who are enrolled in the Innovation in Community, Policy, and Leadership concentration, the IMH seminar is optional, but not required. However, for their Advanced Policy requirement, they must enroll in Advanced Policy Analysis in Child and Family Wellbeing and assignments for this class must focus on issues related to infant mental health.

Additional Requirements

Doctoral Students
1.    Formally admitted to WSU and home program Social Work, Psychology, or Nursing
2.    Incorporate IMH into qualifying examinations
3.    Dissertation focus on infant mental health
4.    IMH program faculty as part of dissertation committee
5.    Encouraged to attend MPSI research colloquia
6.    Encouraged to present research at relevant conferences

Master's Students
1.    Formally admitted to WSU and Social Work
2.    Complete IMH-DT written application (deadline May 1)
3.    Complete MSW Advanced Field Placement within IMH-focused program
4.    Enroll in the two-semester IMH Seminar during their advanced year
5.    Encouraged to attend MPSI research colloquia

Following admission to the major program and admission into the IMH-DT (MSW students only), students should contact their academic advisor and Carla Barron to discuss incorporating the IMH-DT into their Plan of Work and to complete a Graduate Change of Status form. Students admitted into the IMH-DT must maintain a 3.0 grade point average or higher in their infant mental health courses.

IMH coursework and clinical/research experiences are designed to:

  • Increase understanding of infant behavior and development within the context of family, community, and culture 
  • Enhance understanding of early relationship development and the complexity of early parenthood within a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens.
  • Provide an interdisciplinary framework to recognize and strengthen family capacities and to identify and reduce family risks.
  • Assist students in integrating IMH principles into all practices with young children, families, and caregivers.
  • Enhance IMH practice and research through structured observations, the use of infant and family assessment instruments, skillful listening, empathic responses, and reflective self-examination.
  • Offer opportunities for reflection and cultivation of an antiracist lens through interactions in the classroom with IMH faculty, and within community internships and research engagement.

For more information contact:
Director Ann Stacks, PhD, LMFT IMH-E®(IV), at (313) 664-2500 or
Clinical Coordinator Carla Barron, PhD, MSW, LMSW, IMH-E® (IV), at (313) 664-2500 or
Associate Director Carolyn Dayton, PhD, MSW, LP, IMH-E® (IV), at