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Endorsement Competency Guidelines®

When an infant or early childhood mental health professional applies for the VAIMH Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health (Endorsement®), they first determine which Endorsement category best aligns with their scope of practice as outlined in the Endorsement Competency Guidelines®. 


These Guidelines were developed by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) to clearly describe the areas of expertise, responsibilities, and behaviors that demonstrate competency for each of the six categories of Endorsement. 

The Competencies fall under specific IECMH Domains such as:

  • *Theoretical Foundations (e.g., Pregnancy & Early Parenthood, Infant/Young Child Development & Behavior, etc.)

  • Law, Regulation & Policy (e.g., Ethical Practice, Agency Policy, etc.)

  • Systems Expertise (e.g., Service Delivery Systems, Community Resources, etc.)

  • *Direct Service Skills (e.g., Life Skills, Observation and Listening, Screening and Assessment, Advocacy, etc.)

  • Working with Others (e.g., Supporting Others, Building and Maintaining Relationships, Resolving Conflict, etc.)

  • Communicating (e.g., Listening, Speaking, and Writing)

  • Thinking (e.g., Analyzing Information, Solving Problems, Exercising Sound Judgment, etc.)

  • Reflection (e.g., Contemplation, Self-Awareness, Curiosity, Emotional Response, etc.)


*Key Domains as identified by the Alliance and MI-AIMH as being critical to the practice and promotion of infant and early childhood mental health. See sample Competencies grid below.

IECMH Applicants meet the competencies specific to their category through education (if applicable) and specialized in-service training. The Competency Guidelines offers brief descriptions of what each competency entails to make it easier to align coursework and training to meet Endorsement® requirements. 

Sample partial Competencies grid for Family Specialists



What are Competencies?

The Competency Guidelines 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 age 6), and their families. 


Why are they important?

Working with our youngest citizens requires specialized training and experience. The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement® ensure professionals have attained a certain level of expertise with children ages 0-3 and/or 3 up to 6 years, and their families.

An Endorsement applicant demonstrates acquisition of these competencies through education, work, specialized training, and reflective supervision experiences.


Who is Selma Fraiberg?

Selma Fraiberg, an American child psychoanalyst, and her colleagues coined the phrase infant mental health (Fraiberg, 1980). Practitioners in Michigan then 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.


Competency History

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.

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