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Infant Mental Health Endorsement® Overview

The Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health (VAIMH) is an interdisciplinary, professional organization established to nurture and promote the optimal development of infants, toddlers, and families through relationship-based training and advocacy efforts. 

The intent of the VAIMH Endorsement is to recognize the professional development of infant and family service providers within the diverse and rapidly expanding infant and family field. Endorsement by the VAIMH will verify that an applicant has attained a specified level of functioning and understanding based on a set of competencies that have been identified and agreed upon by professionals, service providers, faculty members and policy makers in the infant and family field.

The VAIMH Endorsement offers individuals in the infant and family field a professional development plan that focuses on knowledge, best practice skills, and supervised work experiences that lead to increased confidence and credibility within the infant and family field. Of additional importance, the VAIMH Endorsement informs prospective employers, agencies and peers about culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice promoting infant mental health. Those who earn the VAIMH Endorsement will be recognized for their education, training, leadership roles and work experiences within a rapidly growing field.

A Brief Overview

There are five levels of competency within the VAIMH Endorsement®:

1. Infant Family Associate (IFA): Any academic degree or 2 years paid work experience in infant and early childhood;

2. Infant Family Specialist (IFS): Bachelor's or Master's degree with a minimum of 2 years of paid, post-Bachelor's, professional work experience providing prevention and/or early intervention services that promote infant mental health;


3. Infant Family Reflective Supervisor (IFRS): Minimum 2 years paid professional work experience providing prevention and/or early intervention services that promote infant mental health;


4. Infant Mental Health Specialist (IMHS): Master's or post-graduate degree with a minimum of 2 years, postgraduate, supervised paid work experience providing culturally sensitive, relationship-focused infant mental health services;


5. Infant Mental Health Mentor (IMHM): Master's or post-graduate degree with a minimum of 3 years specialized work experience in at least one of three categories:


a. Clinical: Post-graduate experience as a practice leader in infant mental health (e.g., infant mental health supervisor, trainer, or consultant);

b. Policy: Post-graduate experience as a leader in policy and/or program administration related to the infant/family field;

c. Research/Faculty: Post-graduate experience as a leader in university-level teaching and/or published research related to the infant/family field.

Each level recognizes the educational experiences, in-service training experiences, and work experiences appropriate for best service outcomes for infants, toddlers, and families which is documented in the Application.

Those who have earned Endorsement® have demonstrated that the individual has completed specialized education, work, in-service training, and reflective supervision/consultation experiences (as defined in Endorsement® criteria) that have led to competency in the promotion and/or practice of infant mental health. Endorsement® does not guarantee the ability to practice as a mental health professional, although many who have earned Endorsement® are licensed mental health professionals.

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