On Friday, October 24th, 2014, we held the inaugural event for our state’s WAIMH affiliate, the Massachusetts Association of Infant Mental Health (MassAIMH: Birth to Six), hosted by Jewish Family & Children’s Services. The event’s Welcome address by incoming MassAIMH President Dr. Richardson and the Keynote address by Dr. T Berry Brazelton and out-going MassAIMH President Dr. Jayne Singer served multiple purposes that set the context for the breakout sessions of our four mission areas: Policy, Service Delivery, Training, and Research.
To an audience of 180 infant and early childhood mental health professionals, Dr. Brazelton gave an historical overview from his own perspective of the developmental progression of the field of Infant Mental Health. This included his own presence and influence at the first meeting of international early childhood specialists that would become WAIMH, his role in the subsequent formation of Zero to Three here in the States as well as the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, his groundbreaking work on understanding newborn capacities established in the design of the Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale (and later, the Newborn Observation System), his cross-cultural research on newborn behavior and family functioning in Central America, Asia, and Africa, his multiple publications and media contributions in service of advocacy for the needs and rights of children and families; and in his most recent 20 years, his legacy in the form of establishing the Touchpoints Approach and the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at the Boston Children’s Hospital. As an international Touchpoints and NBO Trainer and Clinical Director of the Child and Parent Program at Children’s Hospital, Dr. Singer elaborated on the definition of the Touchpoints Approach as an evidence-based promotional, preventive, and intervention methodology for anticipating known periods of disruption in young children’s developmental process and systematically providing strengths-based family support techniques proven to be effective in promoting infant and family mental health. Lastly, Dr. Singer presented some key concepts related to the MI-AIMH definitions and intervention techniques for optimizing Infant Mental Health, a proposed mission of MassAIMH to adopt the MI-AIMH Infant Mental Health professional Endorsement Standards and join the like-minded League of States, and examples from a cross-walk of how the Touchpoints Approach applied principles and strategies serve to implement those IMH intervention and endorsement strategies.
The four Break-Out Groups were given our MassAIMH mission statement and Committee Chairs posed the following three questions to each group:
- What are the “burning issues” and areas of need that MassAIMH should consider?
- What ideas and opportunities for action should MassAIMH consider?
- What networks and connections would facilitate our work on these issues?
Please read the summaries from these outstanding discussions. We invite you to become a member of MassAIMH today and join in on the conversation. Our committee chairs can be contacted directly, via email links on the website. All MassAIMH members are invited to be a member of a committee and will receive valuable links and resources to help connect you with other professionals in the field and keep you abreast of all that is happening in the Commonwealth and beyond. This is your opportunity to become involved; help us build this important initiative in our state!
Welcoming Remarks by President, Dr. Dorothy Richardson