After working therapeutically with adults suffering from severe mental illness, I began to wonder why life falls apart for some individuals? My quest to understand the origin of these difficulties and how I could make a difference led me to the field of Infant Mental Health (IMH), a field devoted to how all of us began, as babies. IMH is a field dedicated to supporting the early relationships of infants, toddlers and their families.
For years I made home visits, doing therapy with parents/caregivers and children. As I traveled house to house visiting families, I was frequently reminded of my former adult clients. I saw the same shutdown, overwhelmed and anxious faces I previously saw. Yet, this work felt different. Even when situations felt discouraging, I could sense the innate motivation which is biologically hardwired into every mother’s brain to want to be “a good mom”. I am continually inspired by the power and growth that comes from using the parent-child relationship as the vehicle to support optimal development in children while also promoting mental health and healing within parents/caregivers.
When I tell people that I have a background in IMH, the normal reaction is laughter followed by “does the baby sit in a chair and tell you all their problems?” Well, kind of but not like you think. IMH is grounded in the concept of attachment. Attachment is an inborn behavioral system that is formed in early childhood based on how parents/caregivers met their child’s needs. The degree and manner in which physical and emotional needs were met, lead children to develop secure or insecure attachment styles.
These early relationships and attachment styles influence an individual’s sense of self, expectation for future relationships, how one manages emotions, social competence, problem solving, mental health and even physical health outcomes in adulthood. Attachment begins in infancy and is one of the best predictors for positive outcomes in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Research shows that our attachment styles are imprinted on our brains in such a way that these parent-child interactions are many times repeated in future generations. So even though an infant cannot verbally tell me about their difficulties, the interactions within the mother-child relationship can speak volumes about the mothers past and the child’s likely future.
My current work is in private practice seeing children and adults of all ages. The knowledge that mental and emotional health does truly start at birth, assists me to be a more effective therapist for all ages as I better understand the impact of our beginnings. Moving forward, my goal is to continue this vital work by creating a unique program designed to support and strengthen the core relationship of parents and children ages birth to 6 years. This program will promote secure attachment relational dynamics while also allowing space for parents to process, heal and grow from their own histories. Ultimately when a safe and secure parent-child relationship exists, the child, parent, family and community all benefit from this strong beginning.
Find out more through our Early Connections Institute.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland and Fenton, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Additionally, we offer psychiatric care in the form of evaluations and medication management. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.