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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.

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.