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Masterclass Speakers

Astrid Berg

University of Cape Town, South Africa

Astrid Berg is a Psychiatrist, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist as well as a Jungian Analyst. She is an Emerita A/Professor at the University of Cape Town and A/Professor Extraordinary at the Stellenbosch University. She consults and teaches at the Parent-Infant Mental Health Services and is co-convenor of the newly established M Phil degree in Infant Mental Health at Stellenbosch University. She is on the Executive Committee of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.

Psychological trauma and deprivation reverberates through the generations within families and communities. While trauma overwhelms the psyche leading to splitting, deprivation leaves gaps that need to be filled. Through reflection links could be made to the origins of the psychic splits and gaps which in turn would prevent their unconscious transmission to the next generation. How to find a way to do this in multicultural spaces is a challenge – examples from work in communities in South Africa will be presented.


Hiram Fitzgerald

Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University

Hiram E. Fitzgerald (Ph.D. University of Denver) is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. Fitzgerald is past president and executive director of both the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health and the International Association for Infant Mental Health, and executive director of the World Association for Infant Mental Health. He was associated with the National Evaluation of Early Head Start, and Michigan Longitudinal Study of Family Risk for Alcoholism. Currently, he is a member of the Training Research Center for Tribal Early Childhood, the Native Children’s Research Exchange, the advisory boards for the University of Nebraska Buffett Early Childhood Institute, the Oklahoma State University Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity, and the Rocky Mountain Prevention Center. He is past editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal, associate editor of Child Development, and Perspectives on Infant Mental Health. Currently he is associate editor of Adversity and Resilience Science. He is a Fellow of the Association of Psychological Science, and the American Psychological Association. He is a recipient of the Zero to Three Dolley Madison Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Development and Well-Being of Very Young Children.

We will examine the Risk-Resilience framework within the context of relational developmental systems perspectives on the early origins of risk in boys. At least 8 components of emergent systems [genomics, epigenetics, neurobiology, neuroendocrinology,behavior (sensory-perceptual, emotional, social, cognitive), mental (theory of mind, mental representations), culture (of place, space, spirituality); natural and build environments) influence the organization of development from conception onward. We will explore evidence suggesting that boys are more vulnerable than are girls to early life-course stress. We will also examine resilience factors within each domain and discuss the risk-resilience continuum with respect to etiology of adverse childhood experiences and resilience.


Miri Keren, M.D

Geha Mental Health Center, Director of Infant Mental Health Unit and of the Child and Adolescent Division. Assistant Clinical Professor Tel Aviv University Medical School.

Born in Paris, France, immigrated to Israel in 1970, graduated in medicine at the Ben Gourion Medical school (1975-1981). After my residency in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and certification of the School of Psychotherapy at the Tel Aviv University Sackler Medical School, I spent two years at Brown University (USA) for a fellowship in Infant Psychiatry (1993-1995). Since 1996, I am the director of the community-based infant mental health unit, affiliated to Geha Mental Health Center in Petah-Tiqwa, which was the first Community Infant Psychiatry Unit.From 1996 to 2006, I supervised the Israeli national project of preschool mental health units implementation, under joint sponsorship of the Ministry of Health and Sacta-Rashi Foundation. I served as the President of the World Association of Infant Mental Health (2012-2016) and I am currently on the Board as Past President and Honorary President of the Israel WAIMH Affiliate. My academic position is Assistant Clinical Professor at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry department, Tel-Aviv Sackler Medical School, Head of the Infant Psychiatry Post Graduate course, Tel-Aviv Sackler Medical School, International Advisor on the Editorial board of the Infant Mental Health Journal and Member of the Diagnostic Classification for Early Childhood Revision International Task Force. I teach as a Visiting Professor at Valencia (Spain) University, International early childhood psychology program, sponsored by AEPEA. I am also involved in joint Israeli-Palestinian professional projects.

The concept of motherhood constellation has become the theoretical framework of mother-infant psychotherapies. Many clinics tend to treat mostly mothers and infants, in spite of the fact that the role of the father in the psychic life of the child has been an important focus of research in the last two decades. Indeed, it turned out that new fathers develop a primary paternal preoccupation as well as new mothers do. Consequently, in a two-parent family, the intrapsychic changes that the new mother goes through with intrapsychic changes the new father goes through as well. The nature of this "encounter" will determine the characteristics of the co-parenting, that is the extent of solidarity and mutual support that the parents convey to the infant in the triadic interaction. In his/her interactions with each parent, the infant thus experiences the motherhood constellation and the fatherhood constellation. Triadic psychotherapy is aimed at improving the co-parenting alliance, and the observed interactions often reflect the internalized mental representation of each parent's own co-parenting experiences he/she has lived in their childhood, or what I would call the Co-Parenthood Constellation. We will review the commonalities and differences between dyadic and triadic psychotherapies, and we will end with a clinical vignette.


Brigid Jordan

Associate Professor, Paediatric Social Work, Royal Children’s Hospital

Associate Professor Brigid Jordan AM, BSW PhD is a social worker and infant mental health clinician, academic and researcher with appointments at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Australia, the University of Melbourne departments of Paediatrics and Psychiatry and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Her research focus is the impact of early life stress- as a result of serious illness and hospital experience or significant family stress and social disadvantage – on the health and mental health of infants. She has experience in knowledge translation in child protection and early years education as well as child health. Together with colleagues, Brigid established post-graduate Infant Mental Health courses in Victoria. She is a past President of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health and has served on the Executive Committee of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.

Infant Mental Health clinicians and researchers often advocate for universal services for infants and their families to include a focus on the subjective experience of infants, their emotional development, the dynamics of the infant – parent relationship and infant mental health problems, with varying success. This presentation will review knowledge translation frameworks and evidence and discuss an example of using a knowledge translation approach to improve the mental health of all infants and young children in a paediatric hospital. The knowledge translation framework, the core infant mental health concepts identified as salient and the process of implementation including the refinements required as the project was implemented will be discussed.


Wendy Bunston

Senior Clinical Social Worker, Family Therapist and Infant Mental Health Practitioner

Dr Wendy Bunston is a senior clinical social worker, family therapist and infant mental health practitioner with over 30 year experience in the child and family welfare sector. Her PhD involved 8 Refuges (Shelters) within Australia, England and Scotland exploring how Refuges provided refuge to the infant and their mother after leaving family violence. Wendy’s research won the distinguished ‘Nancy Millis’ award in 2016 and she was a finalist in the Victorian Premier’s Health and Medical Research Awards in 2019. Wendy has written and presented extensively on her use of an ‘infant led’ approach in working to address the impact of family violence.

Infants are often nearby, present or direct victims of violence, when perpetrated by a caregiver or other family member within the infant’s home. Aside from fatalities or serious injuries resulting from direct physical harm to infants, research has demonstrated that family violence exposure in itself does, unequivocally, impact the infant’s mental health and wellbeing. The reality is, however, that the mental health sector in general has been slow to recognise the experience of the infant impacted by family violence, or to offer a service response. This masterclass will explore: the impact of family violence on infant mental health; the entitlement of infants to be an active part of any therapeutic intervention which directly impacts them; as well as illustrating how the smallest member of a family may also be the most potent and hopeful entry point for change and healing. This work is complex but when undertaken well, and with the safety of the infant paramount, it can unlock profound opportunities for addressing inter-generational violence and trauma. An overview of what an infant led approach entails and its safe application to family work, group work and supporting families residing in women’s refuges/shelters will be provided.


Diane Philipp

Assistant Professor, University of Toronto & SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health

Dr. Philipp received her MD from McMaster University and did her adult residency training in psychiatry in the Harvard-Longwood Program as well as her child and adolescent psychiatry training at the Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School. She completed a fellowship in Infant and Perinatal Psychiatry at the University of Toronto Medical School. She is an Assistant Professor, on faculty at the University of Toronto and heads an infant and preschool assessment and treatment team at the SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health. Dr. Philipp has authored and co-authored several articles on young families and the transition to parenthood. She has also co-authored the book, “The baby and the couple: Understanding and Treating Young families” (2014; Routledge press), which has now been translated into Italian and French. Dr. Philipp has also developed a model of brief family therapy for the infant and preschool population known as Reflective Family Play (RFP; Philipp, 2012). RFP has been manualized (Philipp & Hayos, 2015), with a recent case series demonstrating its feasibility for this young age group (Phlipp, Hayos, & Cordeiro, 2018). Dr. Philipp has been an invited speaker on this model in Canada, Europe, Israel, and Australia.

During the 1990s, a team in Lausanne developed several brief tasks to assess family interactions with infants and preschools (Fivaz-Depeursinge & Warnery-Corboz, 1999). The focus was on understanding the family alliance, coparenting, as well as the infant’s experience of, and contribution to, family interactions. The approach was and remains unique. Most research and clinical work then and now focuses on the primary caregiver-baby dyad. Nonetheless, a small and growing body of researchers and clinicians have followed these pioneers, elaborating on research as well as clinical applications first developed in Lausanne. The best known task, Lausanne Trilogue Play (LTP), is a semi-structured play task for two parents and their infant or young child. The task was then adapted to include siblings, Lausanne Family Play (LFP), and a less structured task, the Lausanne Picnic (LNP), that can be done with any number of caregivers and children. Other tasks have since been developed for expectant couples, older children, and teens. The goal of this master class is to provide an overview of work with coparents and young families using this systemic approach. The focus will be particularly on the clinical applications of Lausanne Play tasks to provide videofeedback to coparents (Fivaz-Depeursinge & Philipp; 2014), as well as how it has been adapted to a brief family therapy known as Reflective Family Play (Phlipp & Hayos, 2015).


J. Kevin Nugent

Founder & Director, Brazelton Institute

Kevin Nugent was born and raised in Mullingar, Ireland. He studied Philosophy and Theology at St. Columban’s College and worked for six years on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. He then returned to Ireland and worked at the Educational Research Centre in Dublin before leaving for Boston, where he graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Boston College. He received his doctorate in Developmental Psychology and in 1978 was invited by Berry Brazelton to join the Child Development Unit at Boston Children's Hospital. Since then, he has been conducting research on newborn behavior and early parent-infant relations and is responsible for training professionals in neurobehavioral assessment and intervention techniques, specifically the NBAS and the NBO. Dr. Nugent is Founder and Director of the Brazelton Institute in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and has been on the faculty at Harvard Medical School since 1981. He is also Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Over the first few months of life, infants face a series of hierarchically organized tasks in self-regulation that develop in a stage-like progression. This four-stage sequence of systemic change begins with their capacity to regulate their autonomic system, their motor behavior, followed by the capacity for state regulation, and finally their capacity for affective interactive behavior. These developmental tasks are summarized by the AMOR acronym – Autonomic stability, Motor regulation, Organization of State, and Responsiveness. Self-regulation is the successful integration of these four sub-systems. Parents, too, are in a state of potential disequilibrium and reorganization and face a loose hierarchy of psychic regulatory tasks, which may also be summarized using an AMOR acronym: Affect regulation, Mentalising or the capacity to see the baby as a person, Openness to the real baby as opposed to the fantasy baby, and then Responsiveness to the baby’s behavioral cues. The Parent AMOR summarises the key psychic regulatory processes in parents that can promote reciprocity in the parent-infant relationship through increasingly visible moments of affective attunement, synchrony, and mutually rewarding interaction between infant and parent. This class will be used to explain how the Newborn Behavioral Observations (NBO) system uses the AMOR framework to enable babies and parents to “tell their own stories” in order to support the emergence of reciprocity in the infant- parent relationship, in a way that is collaborative, non-didactic and strength-based and especially respectful of the generational and cultural context of both the baby’s and the parent’s own personal narratives.


Nick Kowalenko

Vice President, International Association of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists and Allied Professionals (IACAPAP)

Dr. Nick Kowalenko provides policy advice to state and national governments and organisations about parent and infant mental health, family centred practice and early intervention. He is Vice President, International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists and Allied Professionals (IACAPAP). He coordinated the Masters of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health at NSW Institute of Psychiatry (2011-2016) and teaches in the Asia/Pacific as an international faculty member of Zero to Three. His research interests and publications are in family based early intervention, developing infant outcome measures, and workforce development. He lectures at University of Sydney.

Paternal mental health problems can adversely impact father-infant relationship quality, infant development, couple and family functioning and longitudinal outcomes. This masterclass will outline the prevalence of fathers’ mental health problems, the features of fathering with a variety of mental illnesses, their significance to infants and the mechanisms for their impact on infant development. Reviewing the evidence provides the basis for identifying interventions that may ameliorate adverse childhood experiences and promote fathers’ and infants‘ well-being. The implications arising for public health policy, the routine identification of paternal mental health difficulties in fathers with infants and young children and evidence- based interventions will be discussed.

Antoine Guedeney

Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Paris University, France

Antoine Guedeney, born 1953 is a child psychiatrist with a PhD in developmental psychology and professor of child & adolescent psychiatry at Paris University. His experience as pediatrist in Chad 1978-1979 led him to develop the Alarm Distress baby Scale in 2001, then participating or initiating more than a dozen studies on application of the ADBB in various situations and countries. He was the main investigator of the first French controlled study on early prevention with 440 families, CAPDEP, Antoine Guedeney was member of the WAIPAD, then WHAIM board and EC since 1989, becoming WAIMH president in 2008-2012. He is the editor of Devenir, a journal dedicated to infancy and perinatality, since 1989.

Social withdrawal behavior, from birth onwards but clearly as early as two months of age, is indicated by diminished or lacking of either positive (e.g., smiling, eye contact, cooing) or negative behaviors . Micro analytic studies have shown that brief episodes of infant withdrawal appear frequently during parent–infant interactions, playing an important role in the regulation of early interactions. When the interaction is continually too intrusive or unresponsive, infants may learn that they have to consistently withdraw to reduce their arousal level. Closing the eyes, turning the head and looking away are the infant’s means of regulating the flow of interaction. Infants might subsequently develop sustained social withdrawal behaviors as a way of handling repetitive or durable violations of his or her expectations within social interactions. Sustained social withdrawal behavior seems to be a major defensive mechanism of the infant, faced with a clear violations of his her expectations within the interaction with caregivers, and with poor repair afterwards. Therefore it is a major alarm signal and a key element in the process of assessing a clinical situation. The ADBB scale and its short version have been designed to asses social withdrawal behavior in infants. Le MC will enable to see some example of a total absence of withdrawal behavior compared with a massive withdrawal state as seen in Spitz historical clips.


Erum Mariam

Executive Director, BRAC IED, Bangladesh

Dr. Erum Mariam is the Executive Director of BRAC IED (Institute of Educational Development) BRAC University, in Bangladesh. She has completed her PhD in Education from Cambridge University in 2008 and has extensive experience of scaling up education interventions both nationally and globally. Dr. Mariam was involved in the expansion of the unique BRAC run Non-Formal Primary (NFP) Schools in the 1990s and, since 2008, has promoted BRAC IED’s vision of contributing to the improvement of quality, equity, and efficiency in the education system in partnership with the public sector. The globally recognized Play Labs and Humanitarian Play Labs have been developed under her leadership, focusing on early stimulation, early developmental & learning outcomes, as well as mother-child wellbeing in diverse settings.

Children living in Rohingya camps relinquish their right to play and wellbeing as they age up and fend off the threat of uncertainty, cultural erasure, and trafficking. BRAC advocates for promoting cultural identities of displaced communities and have developed an early stimulation model based on traditional Kabbiya, physical play, arts, stories and decorations as primary healers for the Rohingya community. The model applies grassroots level engagement for identifying aspects of the Rohingya culture which fosters wellbeing. This model involves women and children where content from their culture is used to create spaces that promote resilience and a deep sense of pride among the Rohingya.


Filippo Muratori

Associate Professor, Child & Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, University of Pisa, Italy

Filippo Muratori, MD, Associate Professor of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry at the University of Pisa (Italy), Director of the Clinical Unit for children with autism at the IRCCS Stella Maris. He has conducted multicenter researches for the Italian Ministry of Health and for European Community. He leads the laboratory for studying early signs of autism through Home Videos. He has created collaborations with Bioengineers to develop new synergies between clinical expertise and technologies such as neurophysiology, Brain Imaging, eye-tracking. Italian partner in the European Project: IMI-2 AIMS-2-TRIALS.

Video material from retrospective and prospective studies regarding the 6-to-12 month of life of infants who are developing autism, are used to point out: 1) early intersubjective difficulties in the infant and 2) peculiarities of parent-infant interaction. As for infant motor atypicalities, prevalence of non-social attention, reduced vocalization, non-social babbling and repetitive movements will be shown. As for parent-infant interaction an early interactive style (composed of increasing of solicitations and return to cradling bias) will be described as an implicit way to cope with and compensate infant's intersubjective difficulties. Finally, the importance of these findings for the development of parent-mediated treatments in autism will be discussed.


Richard Fletcher

The Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health & medicine, The University of Newcastle, Australia

A/Professor Richard Fletcher, the Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle. Richard researches fathers’ mental health, attachment, coparenting, rough and tumble play and use of services. He is Principal Investigator of SMS4dads and Stayin on Track for Aboriginal fathers. His book “The Dad Factor: How the Father-Baby Bond Helps a Child for Life” (Finch 2011) has been translated into 5 languages. He is editor of the Fatherhood Research Bulletin.

Infants need sensitive, responsive and challenging fathers. Fathers need sensitive, responsive and challenging clinicians and programs. This masterclass will bring together the recent research on father-infant and father-partner relationships with 20 years’ experience helping services engage, treat and support fathers to benefit all family members. Fathering is not simply copying mothering yet the two are linked. Dads challenging style merits support while clinicians challenging of dads is also crucial. Through a biopsychosocial lens the practical tasks of not only treating but supporting fathers will be explored.


Louise Newman

Director, Centre for Women’s Mental Health, Royal Women’s Hospital

Louise Newman is the Director of the Centre for Women’s Mental Health at the Royal Women’s Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne. She was the founding Chair of Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle and the previous Director of the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry. She is a practising infant psychiatrist with expertise in the area of disorders of early parenting and attachment difficulties in infants. She has undertaken research into the issues confronting parents with histories of early trauma and neglect. Her current research focusses on the evaluation of infant-parent interventions in high-risk population. She has published in the areas of infant mental health, attachment disorders, trauma in infancy, and prevention of child abuse. She is the Convenor of the human rights organisation Doctors for Justice. She has been a Government advisor on asylum seeker and refugee mental health and contributed to the development of policy for mental health screening and response to torture survivors. She has been involved in research into the impact of immigration detention on child asylum seekers.

This masterclass aims to summarise the issues confronting parents with a history of attachment related trauma and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in early parenting and contemporary approaches to intervention. It will discuss the concepts of parental reflective capacity and approaches to improving parental understanding of and responsivity to the infant in dyad therapy.

Therapy focuses on improving parental RF, supporting parents in trauma resolution and promoting attachment organisation.

Conclusion: BPD raises significant challenges for parents with potential adverse impact on infant attachment and development. Approaches to early intervention are needed and should focus on improving the parent’s sense of themselves as an attachment figure and on increasing the capacity to read and respond to infant emotional and social communication.


Daphna Dollberg

Senior Lecturer, Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo

Daphna Ginio Dollberg, Ph.D. is a Clinical and Developmental psychologist and the former president of the Israeli WAIMH affiliate. Dr. Dollberg serves as a senior lecturer at the graduate programs in Clinical and in Developmental Psychology at the Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo, Israel. She studies parental mentalizing in high and low risk contexts and among parents of children of different ages. Dr. Dollberg teaches and supervises therapists who work with parents as well as in parent-child psychotherapy. She is also a certified trainer in CPP (Lieberman & Van Horn, 2008).

Epistemic trust refers to our trust in the authenticity and personal relevance of interpersonally transmitted information (Wilson & Sperber, 2012). However, epistemic vigilance is also prevalent and occurs when information is perceived as irrelevant and incorrect and/or when the informant is perceived as not understanding one’s needs. Epistemic trust is suggested a key common factor in effective psychotherapy (Fonagy & Allison, 2014) as it helps patients take in new information about the self, the other and the social world. Epistemic trust is especially crucial in working with parents who come with pressing child-centered issues and ask for concrete advise. Mentalization, and particularly parental mentalization, is a key factor in parent child relationship and is thought of as promoting healthy child socioemotional development ((Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, & Target, 2004; Meins, 2013; Oppenheim, & Koren-Karie, 2002; Slade, 2005). It also paves the way to establishing epistemic trust (Fonagy & Allison, 2014). Yet, inviting parents who are stressed and worried about their children’s behavior and development to focus on their own and child’s mental states is often challenging. Parents are often vigilant and skeptic as to whether and how can this process help in easing parenting and child-centered pressures? In this masterclass we will discuss the challenges to forming epistemic trust when working with parents on behalf of their children and the parent-child relationship. Using Attachment theory and Mentalization frameworks, some suggested ways to address these challenges will be presented and discussed.


Joy Osofsky

Professor of Child Welfare, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Joy D. Osofsky, Ph.D. is a clinical and developmental psychologist, Paul J. Ramsay Endowed Chair of Psychiatry and Barbara Lemann Professor of Child Welfare at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans. She is Director of the Harris Infant Mental Health Center at LSUHSC. Dr. Osofsky has published widely and authored or edited 10 books including : Trauma in the Lives of Children, Two Volumes (Praeger, 2018),Treating Infants and Young Children Impacted by Trauma: Interventions that Promote Healthy Development (American Psychological Association, 2017), Clinical Work with Traumatized Young Children (Guilford, 2011), Young Children and Trauma: Interventions and Treatment (Guilford, 2004),Children in a Violent Society (Guilford, 1997), and the publication, Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 2018). She is past president of both the World Association for Infant Mental Health and Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. She is Clinical Consultant and on the Leadership team for Zero to Three for the Safe Babies Court Team Program. She played a leadership role in the Gulf Region following Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and was Clinical Director for Child and Adolescent Initiatives for Louisiana Spirit following Hurricane Katrina. She has received funding for National Center for Child Traumatic Stress Center grants since 2003 and currently serves as Co-Principal Investigator for the NCTSN Center, Terrorism and Disaster Coalition for Child and Family Resilience. In 2007, Dr. Osofsky received the Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence for trauma work from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and in 2010 and was honored with a Presidential Commendation from the American Psychiatric Association for her work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2014, she was recognized with the Reginald Lourie Award for leadership in infant mental health and outstanding contributions to the health and welfare of children and families.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) measure, established by the pioneering work of Felitti and colleagues (1998), has led to understanding how exposure to abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction in childhood is related to subsequent physical and mental health problems. A Robert Wood Johnson report (2014) indicated that 40-60% of health outcomes can be attributed to social and behavioral factors. These issues are particularly important during the perinatal period, when women are already vulnerable to experiencing increases in mental health symptoms during the transition to parenthood which may activate both positive and painful memories associated with their own upbringing (Meltzer-Brody et al, 2018). Integrating trauma-informed mental health interventions into obstetrical care can be helpful to identify and support pregnant women at high risk for difficulties. Gathering information about ACEs as part of the maternal screening provides an opportunity to implement more sensitive and effective interventions that can be foster engagement in treatment, decrease risk for mental health problems including substance use, and improve outcomes for mothers who may be impacted by their own early childhood negative experiences. This approach also provides an opportunity to interrupt the cycle of intergenerational stress.


Suzi Tortora

Founder & Director, Dancing Dialogue

Dr. Tortora is a New York State Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT), Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LCAT) and Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist (BC-DMT) with her doctorate from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. She serves as consultant to the “Mothers, Infants and Young Children of September 11, 2001: A Primary Prevention Project” in the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University under Dr. Beatrice Beebe. She has a full-time private practice in Cold Spring, NY and NYC for over 30 years, specializing in parent- infant/child and family therapy; trauma; pediatric medical illness; and adult chronic pain. Dr Tortora is a pioneer in the field of dance/movement therapy bridging the fields of infant mental health, dance/movement therapy and nonverbal movement analysis. Dr. Tortora is the International Medical Creative Arts Spokesperson for the Andréa Rizzo Foundation, having created and continuing to be the senior dance/movement therapist at Integrative Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NYC, dance/movement therapy program for pediatric patients, since its inception in 2003. She received the 2010 Marian Chace Distinguished Dance Therapist award from the American Dance Therapy Association. She teaches in Europe, South America, New Zealand, the Middle East and Asia and holds faculty positions in the USA, The Netherlands, Chech Republic, Argentina and China. She also offers international webinar-based Ways of Seeing training programs for dance/movement therapists and allied professionals. She has published numerous papers about her work and her book, The Dancing Dialogue: Using the communicative power of movement with young children is used extensively in dance/movement therapy training programs around the world.

Babies speaking to us right from the beginning! They communicate with us through their body actions, cries and the way they look at us, demonstrating important nonverbal skills that tell us how they feel and what they need. Significant caregivers’ ability to accurately read these cues and provide a secure base is communicated through their own nonverbal actions and gestures. This master class introduces two nonverbal analysis systems developed by this author that provide ways to use nonverbal behaviors to support the attachment relationship. Dyadic, Attachment-based, Nonverbal, Communicative Expressions (D.A.N.C.E.), offers a systematic way to organize observed interactions between parents and infants providing a way to understanding the underlying dynamics of the relationship revealed through nonverbal dialogue. The 10 qualitative nonverbal elements in D.A.N.C.E. involve embodied, sensorial, and action-oriented pre-verbal communications that influence the quality of the developing relationship including: specific actions and shapes made with the body; interactional spatial dynamics; and the rhythm, timing, and phrasing of the movements created individually and in relationship to each other. Information attained from D.A.N.C.E. provides insight into each mover’s implicit and intersubjective experience revealing how each dyadic member affectively attunes on a nonverbal and multisensory level. This tool will be demonstrated in its application in a research project in Geneva and New York with “at-risk” mothers suffering from interpersonal violence-related posttraumatic stress disorder (IPV-PTSD) and their toddlers. The second tool, Lullaby Circles will provide insights into how playful activities that support nonverbal interaction and the attachment relationship using dance, movement and rhythm are used for intervention.


Arietta Slade

Professor of Clinical Child Psychology, Yale Child Study Center

Arietta Slade, Ph.D. is Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. An internationally recognized theoretician, clinician, researcher, and teacher, she has written widely on the development of parental reflective functioning, the implications of attachment for child and adult psychotherapy, and for relationship-based infant mental health practice. She is a Co-Founder and Director of Training of Minding the Baby®, an interdisciplinary reflective home visiting program for high-risk mothers, infants, and their families, at the Yale Child Study Center and School of Nursing. Dr. Slade is a winner of the Bowlby-Ainsworth Award from the New York Attachment Consortium, and author, with Jeremy Holmes, of Attachment in Therapeutic Practice (Holmes & Slade, SAGE Publications, 2018), and editor of the six volume set, Major Work on Attachment (Slade & Holmes, SAGE Publications, 2014), of Mind to Mind: Infant Research, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis (Jurist, Slade, & Bergner, Other Press, 2008), and Children at Play (Slade & Wolf, Oxford University Press, 1994). Currently, she is writing a book on reflective parenting (Slade, forthcoming, Guilford, 2021). She has also been in private practice for nearly 40 years, working with individuals of all ages.

Over the past 10 years, the field of infant mental health has become increasingly focused on reflective practice. As critical as these developments have been, we need to more deeply understand the foundations from which reflective practice emerges, for clinicians as well as the families with whom they work. The first and essential foundation is safety, namely the relative absence of threat or fearful arousal, in the clinician, the parent, or the child. The perception of threat or danger triggers fear, and activates brain and body systems that protect the self, and precludes reflection and other higher cognitive and executive functions. The second, equally important foundation is regulation. For all humans, threat and fearful arousal are inevitable; what keeps them from disrupting development and relationships is the capacity to regulate these experiences. The achievement of safety and regulation (often at a bodily level) establishes the foundation for the development of a trusting relationship. Once the clinician, parent, or child feels safe and unthreatened, and is able to regulate physical and mental states, attuning to the other, and building a true relationship becomes possible. These relationships – described by Winnicott as the “birthplace of the symbol”, and by Werner and Kaplan as “the primordial sharing situation” – serve as the foundation for making sense of oneself, of others, and of the larger world. This Masterclass will elaborate on this model and discuss the processes whereby safety, regulation, and relationship are established, re- and re- established in work with vulnerable parents and their young children.


David Oppenheim

Professor and former Chair, Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Israel

David Oppenheim, Ph.D. is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa, Israel and Head of the Center for the Study of Child Development in that University. Dr. Oppenheim’s studies the role of parental Insightfulness and parent-child open communication in the organization of attachment relationships throughout childhood. Dr. Oppenheim’s studies these questions in longitudinal studies including typically developing children, children with atypical development such as Autism and Intellectual Disability, and children at high risk such as those in foster care and those whose parents experienced trauma.

Children with Autism have often been perceived as unable or unmotivated to form attachment relationships with their caregivers. Research beginning in the 1990s began to challenge this point of view and documented that not only do children with Autism form attachments to their mothers, approximately 50% of these attachments are secure. Less research has been conducted on the antecedents of attachment security in children with Autism, however. In this master class I will review research on how maternal insightfulness – the capacity to see and feel things from the child's point of view – contributes to the establishment of a secure child-mother attachment in the case of Autism. I will also discuss the importance of parents coming to terms with having a child with Autism. Finally, I will present data on the attachment of children with Autism to their fathers, a topic that has not been studied heretofore. The implications of this research for working with parents of children on the Autism spectrum will be discussed.


Giampaolo Nicolais

Clinical Child Psychologist, Associate Professor of Child Psychology & Director, School of Specialization in Clinical Psychology, Sapienza University, Rome

Clinical child psychologist, is Associate Professor of Child Psychology and Director of the School of Specialization in Clinical Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome. He’s been practicing for more than two decades as psychologist and psychotherapist in the areas of developmental psychopathology and childhood trauma. Main research interests are in the field of developmental psychopathology, attachment, childhood trauma and its intergenerational transmission, early moral development. He authored and co-authored several publications on these topics. Ordinary member of WAIMH and President of the Italian WAIMH affiliate AISMI – Italian Association for Infant Mental Health.

After the 20th century’s “discovery of the child”, 21st century can be regarded as the era of the “idealization of the child”. In other words, in our gerontocratic society we currently celebrate infancy but tend to forget about the real child. Infancy is the new and powerful paradigm, while we convince ourselves that aging (and ultimately death?) can be defeated predating the vitality of infancy. “It is better to murder an infant in the cradle than to nurse unacted desires”, William Blake wrote: through this narcissistic short-circuit, the child actually disappears from view as we become the child. Is this general attitude in favour of a real knowledge of human development? I doubt it. Drawing from the wealth of scientific knowledge on child development, I will argument that to really advocate for the child is to state the scientific truths we have. To do so, I will focus on three main processes – intercorporeality; resilience; morality - that shape our development as human beings since from the earliest stages. I will then contrast them with three current phenomena occurring both in the public opinion and the community of professionals – the widespread acceptance of maternal surrogacy; the charm of the “fragile” baby and the omnipresence of the trauma discourse; the decline of moral education - showing contradictions that sciences of child development need to resolve.


Campbell Paul

Consultant Infant and Child Psychiatrist, Royal Children’s Hospital & Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Assoc. Prof. Campbell Paul is a Consultant Infant and Child Psychiatrist at the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne and Honorary Principal Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne. With colleagues at the University of Melbourne he has established and delivered postgraduate courses in Infant and Parent Mental Health since 1992. These courses developed out of a longstanding experience in paediatric consultation-liaison psychiatry and infant-parent psychotherapy. He has a special interest in understanding the inner world of the baby, particularly as it informs therapeutic work with infants and their parents. With colleagues, he has developed models of working in therapeutic groups with troubled parents and infants. Campbell is a member of the Australian Association of Psychoanalytic Group Psychotherapists. He is President-Elect of the World Association for Infant Mental Health and is Director of the Australian training centre for the Newborn Behavioural Observation at the Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne. He has been involved for many years in the development of the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service, striving to understand the process by which a child develops their intrinsic sense of a gendered self, from infancy through adolescence.

One of life’s paradoxes is that from the very beginning of life the infant is totally dependent yet at the same time is quickly developing an awareness of self, distinct from the other (Winnicott). The formation of identity, who we are and how we see ourselves, involves an increasingly sophisticated awareness of body, and our reflective and decision-making mind and how these relate to other people. Becoming who we are depends on our genetic endowment, our physical and emotional environment and the nature of caregiving relationships with parents, family and friends. Each of these influence the development of our core experienced gender identity but it seems that neuro-genetic factors must play the major part. Infant mental health clinicians will encounter toddlers and pre-schoolers whose expressed gender identity is not the same as their ascribed biological sex. In working with such children, we need to listen carefully and thoughtfully to what they say about who they are; listen through their words, play, drawings and behaviour in order to provide a safe space for them to be comfortable in becoming themselves. This psychotherapeutic work with very young children and their parents is like “working on the edge” (Di Ceglie 2008) where, like much of our work in mental health, there are unknowns and respectful listening with informed judicious guidance is required of the clinician.


Kaija Puura

Professor of Child Psychiatry, University of Tampere, Finland

Kaija Puura, M.D., Ph.D is Professor of Child Psychiatry in the University of Tampere, Finland, and Chief of Child Psychiatry in Tampere University Hospital. She has authored or co-authored over 80 peer reviewed articles, chapters in both national and international books on assessment and treatment of young children, and is currently an Associate Editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal. Her professional activities as a clinical child psychiatrist have involved combining research activities with clinical work in various projects both in primary care and mental health services. Her interests cut across the following areas: gene-environment interplay in social and emotional development of young children; preventive and mental health interventions for young children; development of family therapeutic methods for families with young children and comprehensive interventions for children with trauma. Her current research project is focused on emotion regulation and shared pleasure and joy in mother-child interaction. She is a member of the Finnish Child Psychiatric Association, and of the World Association for Infant Mental Health. She received the WAIMH New Investigator Award (2002), was appointed Associate Executive Director of the WAIMH 2009, and Executive Director of WAIMH 2018. In July 2018 Professor Puura became Vice President of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions.

Screening infants for signs of somatic illnesses has been established as a part of primary health care in many countries, and is an effective way for improving health of infants and young children. However, awareness of the importance of mental health early in life has also been steadily increasing. Finland is one of the Nordic countries with a well-baby clinic network that has long been developing strategies and tools for screening for both physical and mental health for infant and young children, and also studied the feasibility of screening in primary health care. In this Master class Kaija Puura will describe the development of The Brief Infant Mental Health Screen (BIMHS), a simple and short tool designed for screening for the basic markers of infant mental health globally. Astrid Berg and Elmarie Malek will then describe the use of the BIMHS and clinical experiences of its use in South Africa.


Holly Brophy-Herb

Professor, Child Development, Michigan State University

Holly Brophy-Herb is a Professor of Child Development at Michigan State University. She holds an infant mental health endorsement and is Editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal. Dr. Brophy-Herb’s research program focuses on parents’/caregivers’ emotion socialization practices and toddlers’ early social and emotional development in the context of parent/caregiver child relationships. She is particularly interested in how emotion socialization practices are related to adult psychosocial characteristics, reflective capacities, and contextual characteristics including family and early care and education environments. Her recent work has also included a focus on parental/caregiver mind-mindedness in parent-infant/toddler interactions.

Parental mind-mindedness (interpreting children’s mental states and recognizing internal states as motivations for behaviors) is linked with outcomes in children including secure attachment, theory of mind, and language/cognitive skills. This session will discuss concepts and present data regarding mind-mindedness and mind-related beliefs and behaviors in parents and teachers in interactions with infants and toddlers. Data will be presented on parental mind-mindedness in parent-infant interactions in the context of a home visiting program. We will also examine characteristics associated with parental mind-mindedness and with teachers’ mind-related behaviors with infants and toddlers. Finally, we will discuss ways in which Infant Mental Health informed programming may support adult’s mentalization about infants and toddlers.


Jennifer McIntosh

Director, Melbourne Attachment and Caregiving Lab, Australian Temperament Project, Generation 3 Study

Prof Jennifer McIntosh is a clinical psychologist, researcher and family trauma specialist. She is Director of the Melbourne Attachment and Caregiving Lab (MAC Lab), which runs Australia’s largest study of infant and pre-school attachment within the Australian Temperament Project Generation 3 Study. Her interests lie in the study and promotion of relational health for young children living in challenging circumstances, and the utility of an attachment and caregiving lens for doing so. McIntosh holds certification in the Ainsworth infant and pre-school attachment coding systems, and in the Adult Attachment Interview, and Maternal Behaviour Q-Sort.

The construct and classification of attachment are complex, and as such both are frequently subject to misunderstanding and mis-use in clinical contexts, at times with serious consequence for parents and children alike. Certification in the Ainsworth research classification methods remains the gold standard, yet is an expensive and lengthy undertaking, not available to many. This masterclass distills the knowledge conferred by these methods into an essential clinical primer for observing and describing attachment behaviours in infancy and the pre-school years. With a focus on the affective problem faced by the child within attachment interactions, the pattern of their behavioural solution becomes clearer. McIntosh also introduces newly validated pre-school attachment scales, designed for clinicians to observe and monitor the progress of salient attachment behaviours. Unique observational footage of attachment interactions is used throughout.