11h CPDSeminar

Infant Mental Health in Practice Seminar

Two-Day Seminar for Nurses and Other Health Professionals


13 - 14 Aug 2020
Oaks On Collins
480 Collins St
Melbourne VIC3000

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Why Attend

Nurses and midwives who understand how the early formative years of an infant’s life are so critical to the prevention of life-long mental health problems are an essential asset to our community. This highly interactive learning experience focuses on:

  • Defining infant mental health
  • Why parent-infant attachment matters
  • Video – “The Still Face Experiment”
  • Separation anxiety – what is and is not harmful
  • What does a baby’s cry mean? Interpreting the sounds…
  • How babies learn to self-regulate and soothe themselves
  • Controlled crying – good or bad...
  • The connection between crying and child abuse
  • Practical strategies to assist you with infants at risk
  • Book your place NOW!

    Need for Program

    Mental wellbeing and the healthy development of humans throughout life are increasingly being understood to commence before birth. It is now known that the perinatal and infancy period is extremely significant in laying down a person’s emotional and physical resilience. If infants have a disordered attachment or fail to thrive in this critical period of their life, the consequences may be long-term and potentially catastrophic. However, few health professionals have the opportunity to access relevant education that adequately addresses the mental health of infants.

    Purpose of Program

    The purpose of this program is to offer nurses and other mental health professionals an interactive opportunity to learn about the promotion of infant mental health in day-to-day practice.

    Your Learning Outcomes

    1. Know why infant mental health has become a priority area of child development
    2. Be able to explain how the infant’s lived experience is an essential consideration for their long-term mental health when working with mothers and babies
    3. Enable a proactive approach to be initiated with new parents that promotes infant mental health
    4. Implement ways to improve processes within your workplace that encourage infant mental health


    Day One

    8:30am - Registration and Refreshments


    Defining Infant Mental Health

    An infant’s wellbeing cannot be dissociated from that of the mother or main caregiver. This first session takes a historical look at the infant in society and, in so doing, sets the scene for the remainder of the seminar. It includes:

    • Taking a historical look at infants in society
    • Why infant mental health is now considered so important
    • What we now know about the infants’ mind
    • The importance of the pre-birth period


    Why Parent-Infant Attachment Matters

    It is well known that the quality of an infant’s attachment profoundly influences long-term development. However, different theories of attachment have emerged over the years. This session unravels some of the complexities around attachment theories and includes:

    • How useful are theories of attachment and separation in our day-to-day practice?
    • What are the early signs of poor mother-infant attachment?
    • How to assess attachment disorders
    • What is meant by the “fourth trimester”?

    10:30am - Morning Tea


    The “Still Face Experiment”: The Meaning of Maternal Sensitivity

    The “Still Face Experiment” originally conducted by Edward Tronick, an American developmental psychologist, has significantly influenced our understanding of children’s first relationships and their critical importance in normal social and emotional development. This session will screen a short video followed by a discussion that will further highlight the significance of adult-infant communication and the importance of functional attachment to an infant’s sense of self.


    Separation Anxiety and the Clingy Infant/Toddler

    Separation anxiety is normal emotional development; however, occasionally, it can become problematic. Some babies persist in needing increased amounts of comfort and seem insatiable in their needs for maternal attention – all of which can have profound and unwanted consequences. It includes:

    • What can parents do about clingy behaviour that persists beyond the reasonable developmental stages?
    • Do babies “grow out” of this behaviour?
    • How can you help parents who do not wish to follow evidenced advice?

    1:00pm - Lunch and Networking


    Controlled Crying – Good or Bad? Ways That Babies Communicate

    Understanding how an infant communicates has meant that allowing babies to cry without responding to their needs is no longer desirable. The introduction of controlled crying as a settling technique is now criticised for a range of reasons. This session will look at when infants communicate through crying. It demonstrates how a parent’s response needs to be based on evidenced principles that promote infant mental health. It includes:

    • Teaching parents to understand the different types of infant communication
    • How to respond to a baby that seems to cry incessantly
    • Controlled crying - good or bad...

    3:00pm - Afternoon Tea


    Managing Attachment Disorders When Weaning from Breastfeeding –

    Many babies wean from their mother’s breastfeeding without issue. For others, weaning can be quite a difficult process either for the mother, the baby or both. In this final session of day one, we will look at the issues associated with problematic weaning. It includes:

    • How can understanding what it means for the baby or the mother help at this potentially difficult time?

    4:15pm - Close of Day One of Seminar

    Day Two

    9:00am - Commencement of Day Two


    How Does Parental Mental Illness Impact Infants?

    This interactive session provides an overview of common maternal mental illnesses and the specific symptoms that create the most serious problems for infants. This session includes:

    • Schizophrenia in pregnancy and beyond
    • The implications of parental substance use on infant wellbeing
    • When birth is traumatic and leaves residual problems
    • Perinatal mood problems and the impact on an infant

    10:30am - Morning Tea


    Interpersonal Violence and Infants

    Family violence is continually in the news. It is often associated with neglect. However, evidence suggests that people often overlook indicators of violence in families and, as a result, fail to act when a child is at risk. The “rule of optimism” is an example of a system that aims to counter this. This session looks at the “rule of optimism” and what happens when an intervention is made. It includes how to assist and support families who are in situations of crisis. It includes:

    • Why babies/children should not be left in situations of family violence
    • What is the “rule of optimism” and why it is important
    • How to identify neglect or subtle signs of family violence
    • Supporting families and resources that are available

    12:30pm - Lunch and Networking


    Helping Babies to Soothe and Promoting Good Infant Mental Health

    This session will explore the extensive work of the late Dr Katherine Barnard, a pioneering nurse who made significant contributions to infant welfare across the world. This session reviews her landmark work, the role of the Nursing Child Assessment Satellite Training (NCAST) and its materials that can help parents learn to understand their baby, especially infant states. It includes:

    • What have we learned from Dr Barnard’s work?
    • What do heartbeats and rocking have to do with soothing crying babies?
    • How can this information be shared with parents and carers?
    • What can we learn from mothers of different cultures?


    The Good Stuff – When Evidence PLUS Experience Collide

    Following on from the previous session, we will now look at how experience plus evidence-can create the very best healthcare in the infant-parent mental health context. This practical session will draw on knowledge of current research combined with years of clinical practice to reveal a narrative of infant mental health concepts that will resonate with all health professionals.

    3:00pm - Afternoon Tea and Coffee


    The Lightbulb Moment! Seeing the Relevance of Infant Mental Health to Professional Practice

    This final session will describe the moments in during their practice that your presenter realised the impact and value of an infant mental health approach to care.

    4:15pm - Close of Seminar and Evaluations

    educator image

    Michele Meehan

    Michele Meehan is a Maternal and Child Health Nurse currently working in her private practice, 'Parenting Matters', and lecturing on child health topics. Prior to this, she worked for 30years at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, as a Clinical Nurse Consultant. Michele holds a Master’s Degree in Health Science - Parent and Infant Mental Health, and wrote her minor thesis on the topic of 'Infant food refusal'. Her qualifications also include midwifery, community health nursing, health education and counselling and psychotherapy. Read More

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    13 - 14 Aug 2020
    Oaks On Collins
    480 Collins St
    Melbourne, VIC, 3000
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    Brisbane, QLD, 4000
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    Infant Mental Health in Practice Seminar 2020