I saw a toddler, Billy, (not his real name) and his parents recently in my psychotherapy practice because he had been traumatized by a dog bite. When I interviewed his parents about his symptoms and where they were showing up. I heard about Billy’s sleep disruption at home, separation anxiety when being dropped off at child care, terror and tantrums at the pediatrician’s office around getting an immunization, and regression with the occupational therapist he was seeing for sensory issues. When I spoke with each of those professionals, they had heard about the dog bite and were sensitively modifying their practice with this boy to take into account his increased anxiety. All of which makes good sense. I also learned important information from all these professionals that made the help I gave Billy and his family better.
I bring up this example to highlight partly how far infant/toddler mental health (ITMH) has gone. Many professionals now assume young children’s feelings are important to understand and respond to; that the feelings aren’t just a transitory reaction that “they will get over.” This understanding is still not as universal as it needs to be but so much better than it was.
I also bring up this example to highlight the multidisciplinary nature of ITMH – young children and their families are involved with professionals from many fields. Many areas of study have been created by looking at the overlap of disciplines, e.g., psychoneuroendocrinology. ITMH is special in that it brings fields together with mutual respect to support and nurture young children. They are our passion. It’s why ORAIMH is multidisciplinary – its founders were and its members are now.
ORAIMH’s goal is to attract members from every field that serves young children and their families; e.g. child care, child welfare, home visiting, Early Head Start and Head Start, relief nurseries, early intervention, pediatrics, parent educators, OTs, PTs, and speech therapists, community health nurses, NICU staff, infant massage providers, policymakers, and psychotherapists. If you are reading this blog, you are probably from one of those fields. How could you let others from your field know about ORAIMH? From entry level staff to agency management, they all need to know; perhaps you could talk about it to coworkers, add it to your resume or LinkedIn profile, write about it on social media, mention it on a listserv you might be on, bring it up at a staff meeting, suggest an organizational membership to a boss, or include a link to it on your website.
As the new president of ORAIMH, I hope this blog will provide an opportunity for members from many different disciplines to share their insights. It could be an experience with a client (with identifying information removed) or a policy issue the member feels passionate about, a recent article about ITMH the member found fascinating and reviewed, an intervention example that worked well with a young child and family, or another professional topic in ITMH the member feels moved to write about (perhaps even an idea about young children and the trauma of dog bites).