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Endorsement Competency Guidelines®

Endorsement is available across five practice specialties spanning the continuum of care. Individuals apply for the Endorsement category that best matches their scope of practice as outlined in the Endorsement Competency Guidelines® ( 



Introduction to VAIMH Competency Guidelines and Endorsement®


The Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) is an interdisciplinary, professional organization established to promote and support the optimal development of infants, very young children, and families through relationship-focused workforce development and advocacy efforts.

Incorporated in 1977, MI-AIMH has offered infant mental health training and education opportunities to individuals and groups for almost 35 years. Hundreds of service providers participate annually in state, local, or regional trainings that are designed to build a more skillful and confident workforce. Nearly 500 professionals attend the highly acclaimed MI-AIMH Conference every other year. Many more professionals benefit from MI-AIMH publications such as the Infant Mental Health Journal and The Infant Crier, as well as materials and learning tools that support early relationship development. Of additional importance, all members have access to up-to-date training DVDs and videos in the MI-AIMH media library, featuring nationally and internationally known experts in the infancy and infant mental health fields. With an annual membership of more than 500 infant and family professionals and 13 affiliate chapters, MI-AIMH is proud of its role as an infant mental health training association.



Effective 2010, through a license agreement with the MI-AIMH, the Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health (VAIMH) has legal authorization to use Michigan’s Competency and Endorsement for use in Virginia.

Competency Guidelines

Inspired by the work of Selma Fraiberg and her colleagues who coined the phrase infant mental health (Fraiberg, 1980), practitioners in Michigan designed services to identify and treat developmental and relationship disturbances in infancy and early parenthood. The pioneering infant mental health specialists were challenged to understand the emotional experiences and needs of infants while remaining curious and attuned to parental behavior and mental health needs within the context of developing parent-child relationships. Specialists worked with parents and infants together, most often in clients’ homes but also in clinics and settings for assessment and service delivery. [Intervention and] treatment strategies varied, including concrete assistance, emotional support, developmental guidance, early relationship assessment and support, infant parent psychotherapy, and advocacy (Weatherston, 2001).

As infant mental health practice evolved in Michigan, clinicians, university faculty, and policymakers became increasingly concerned about the training needs of professionals for quality service in the infant mental health field. Competency, as determined by expert consensus, required the development of a unique knowledge base, clinical assessment, and [intervention/]treatment skills specific to infancy and early parenthood, and [reflective] clinical supervisory experiences that would lead to best practice. These basic components were approved by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental health (MI-AIMH) Board of Directors in 1983 and outlined in the MI-AIMH Training Guidelines (1986) to guide preservice, graduate, and in-service training of infant mental health specialist in institutes, colleges, universities, and work settings.

Endorsement Competency Guidelines

The Competency Guidelines for Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health® (Endorsement) are internationally recognized credentials that support and recognize the development and proficiency of professionals who work with or on behalf of pregnant people, young children, birth up to 6-years-old, and their families.


Both the Infant Mental Health Endorsement® (IMH-E®) and the Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement® (ECMH-E®) are based on a set of competencies designed to support and enhance culturally sensitive, relationship focused practice within the framework of infant and early childhood mental health. An Endorsement applicant demonstrates acquisition of these competencies through education, work, specialized training, and reflective supervision experiences. 

Working with our youngest citizens requires specialized training and experience, and IMH-E® ensures professionals have attained a certain level of expertise with 0-3-year-olds and their families. 

ECMH-E® assures that professionals have attained a specific level of expertise with 3 up to 6-year-olds and their families. 

Both IMH-E® and ECMH-E® are relevant for professionals across disciplines including early care and education, prevention and early intervention, home visitation, medicine, child welfare, mental health, policy, academia, and others. 

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