IECMH Therapy

What is Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health?

"The parent-child connection is the most powerful mental health intervention known to mankind." Bessel van der Kolk
As parents and caregivers, we are responsible for promoting relational, social, and emotional well-being in our children. A strong foundation of these capacities ensures the best possible trajectory for all future development. Cognitive learning, physical skills, relationships with peers, will not be nearly as successful for children without a strong social and emotional foundation established within their relationship with caregivers.
In a therapeutic relationship through an IECMH lens, the caregiver learns to co-regulate, build connection, and better understand their child's social and emotional needs. Sequentially, children feel more confident to feel and manage the full spectrum of emotions, explore their environments, understand and create boundaries, and will learn to self-regulate. By supporting the relationship, not solely the individual, we are creating an environment which allows everyone to feel confident and safe, and establishes a foundation for all aspects of future development.
The infant and early childhood mental health perspective within the therapeutic relationship observes, considers and respects the full family system. IECMH means working within the relationship, not just the individual. It means caring for the caregiver, so the caregiver can provide a loving, supportive environment for their child(ren), and in turn, establish the strongest foundation for lifelong healthy development.

What are social and emotional competencies and why are they important?

Humans naturally seek connection and relationship first and foremost. Babies are born seeking, and needing, connection with a caregiver. This relationship is the only means for babies to learn about their emotions and what they mean, and eventually have the ability to navigate through those emotions to interact with others and become social beings.
Emotional and social competencies include:

  • Trust
  • Confidence
  • Curiosity
  • Self-regulation
  • Developing adult and peer relationships
  • Persistence
  • Cooperation
  • Decision making

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