The Illinois Association for Infant Mental Health (ILAIMH) Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Credential (I/ECMH-C) is a yearlong, relationship-based, professional development process that begins with the application and culminates in the awarding of the credential. This process is designed to deepen and strengthen the knowledge and skills of the experienced practitioner.
Additionally the credentialing system supports the development of the community of infant and early childhood mental health practitioners and provides a quality assurance component to the practice of infant and early childhood mental health for families and for employers.
- Education: Master’s degree or higher; Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health is a multidisciplinary field; graduate degrees from child development, counseling, education, marriage and family therapy, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, speech therapy, and social work all meet the qualification for educational requirements.
- Experience: at least 5 years of Post-Graduate degree experience with infants, toddlers, young children, and their families.
- Reflective Supervision: the applicant must be able to document 60 hours of reflective supervision (at least 48 hours must be individual supervision while 12 hours can be group supervision with approval).
- Review the eligibility requirements above
- Review the self-assessment tool to determine readiness
- Complete the ILAIMH I/ECMH CREDENTIAL APPLICATION, and submit with your
- up-to-date CV including all relevant specialized training with the age range 0- 5 years and families,
- copy of relevant license
- $25.00 non-refundable application fee
- Applications accepted on a rolling basis ending July 1
- Applications are reviewed to determine if they meet the basic educational and experience requirements
- If eligible, you will then be asked to submit official transcripts of your most recent or most relevant degree as well as an essay describing your reflective supervision knowledge and experience.
- A supervisor or supervisors of your choosing will be asked to submit documentation of your reflective supervision proficiency.
- You will be scheduled for an interview with a credentialed practitioner and a panel of credentialed practitioners, including your interviewer, will review your materials.
- Applicants will be notified of their selection status following the review.
- Accepted candidates will submit a commitment fee and ILAIMH membership fee online.
1. Admission component
The applicant gathers and submits evidence of education, experience, and reflective supervision (including writing a reflective essay discussing that supervision). The applicant then participates in an interview with a credentialed I/ECMH practitioner. A panel of credentialed practitioners including the interviewer will review and rate the applicant’s materials.
2. Reflective Practices component
- At the beginning of the reflective practices component, the candidate will complete the self-assessment document and review with the facilitator
- All cohort members will participate in ten monthly, three-hour facilitated small group/reflective practice discussions of the competencies and five individual reflective supervision meetings with the facilitator.
- Each group consists of a credentialed facilitator and three-to-five members. The cohort group is based on geographic location.
- Following each session, the candidate will write a reflective essay. The essays and other relevant issues will be discussed during bimonthly individual reflective supervision sessions.
- All cohort members will participate in two large group meetings; one at the beginning of the ten-month process and one in the middle of the process. These meetings are held in Chicago.
3. Panel Review component
- At the end of the ten-month period, the candidate will prepare a comprehensive case study that will be submitted with their portfolio of essays and a final self-assessment form to a panel of three, including the facilitator of their group.
- The candidates will be scheduled for a final review with the panel to discuss their portfolio.
The non-refundable Application Fee is $25 and due when submitting application.
For those with accepted applications and enrolled in the I/ECMH Credential there is a commitment fee due at the end of September. The remainder of the tuition can be paid either in one full payment due at the end of January, or in two payments due in January and July. Summary of payment schedule:
Commitment fee: $150 due Sept. 30
Choice between: Full Payment: $550 due Jan. 30;
– or –
Two Payments: $275 due Jan. 30 and $275 due July 30
If you are a practitioner with an endorsement or credential from another state (i.e. not Illinois), you can audit the I/ECMH-C Credential for $300.
For any questions about these fees, or the Credential process, please email Lynn Liston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ILAIMH has spent many years exploring the need to develop a set of comprehensive competencies for a work force that comes from many disciplines, works in a variety of roles including direct service, consultation, and supervision, and values a credential to ensure quality for consumers and employers. The ILAIMH worked regionally and nationally before deciding to construct the competencies and a credentialing system for Illinois. The McCormick Foundation has funded the ILAIMH since 2007 to develop this system. In 2011-12 the credentialing system launched a pilot with 13 highly qualified individuals to build and test the developing system. In 2013-14 the credential system launched a field test of the credential process with facilitated groups and individual reflective supervision. In 2014 the first cohort of the fully developed credential system was launched. A calendar for recruitment of new candidates and for all activities of the credential process was developed.
The ILAIMH I/ECMH Credential is a yearlong, relationship-based, professional development process. ILAIMH has developed a unique model that is designed to deepen the practice and knowledge base of candidates in the context of multidisciplinary groups. Through this experience a learning community of infant and early childhood mental health practitioners is developed and opportunities for new levels of cognitive integration, reflection, and changes in practice are strengthened and supported.
Why earn the ILAIMH I/ECMHC-C?
“I am more conscious of the “standards” for practice and have been mindful to refer to the competencies as a guide….being thoughtful about the takeaways from the process helps me to be a stronger practitioner.”
“I have a wider perspective about what is included in IMH. I’m more mindful of cultural issues and system issues”
“It definitely has affected my work both as an Early Intervention provider and consultant. I am more focused on the infant and child in the context of the family and relationships that the child has….I find myself reflecting on families and my work with them with a clearer understanding of infant mental health. I use this understanding to educate both families and colleagues, especially those without a mental health background.”
“I have become more aware of thinking about how my presence is impacting the work.”
“I have greater intentionality and purpose, actively reflecting on assessing everyone’s perspective, goals & “agendas” in my various professional roles.”
“It has deepened my understanding of IMH principles and myself in relation to the principles. For example, I find myself sometimes categorizing different things that come up for me by relating them back to the competencies. This has included, at times, referencing the competencies for further reflection and insight in certain areas and to see what I want to learn more about or brush up on. Further, recently I was asked by my agency to help them think about ways to train new therapists in ECMH. I immediately referenced the competencies and broke things down into similar topic areas. It helped me in thinking about how I may offer info on areas of the competencies to others who are new to the field which is just another way to be more mindful about the depth of these competencies in both how I may offer to others and my own understanding of them.”
“I have a sense of pride and accomplishment having completed the credential which I thought was challenging and filled with new learning. I think it elevated my sense of the credibility of the infant/ ECH work that I do everyday. I also am more aware of the extent of information I want to know about the cases before me and the complexity of their nature….I feel a shared sense of professionalism with those who have received the credential with me. There is a new identity group and that strengthens my belief in and dedication to doing this very important work 0-5. “
“It definitely affected how I think about my work. I feel it took my work to a deeper level….I feel being able to listen to how others were reflective in their work… was helpful for me to learn new ways of being with others in my work.”
“The process made me more aware of what I don’t know and made me more curious and interested in learning more and challenging my current assumptions about IMH and my knowledge of IMH.”
“Discussions in the small group affected my work, especially in the area of systems and family dynamics in a similar way to the experience of being in other reflective groups.”
Reflective supervision is a particular type of supervision that is focused on the exploration of issues related to the work with infants, young children, and their families within the context of a safe, trusting, and supportive relationship between supervisor and supervisee. The supervisor and supervisee mutually engage in this exploration of the parallel process, ie. how the relationship between the parents, between the individual parent and the child, between the practitioner and the parent, the practitioner and the child, and all other relationships affect the work that is happening with the family. The reflective supervisor listens and waits for the supervisee to develop insights and solutions. This “holding environment” has been described by Jeree Pawl (1998). She has proposed the Platinum Rule as a way to think of this process: Do unto others as you would have others do unto others.
Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Definition
Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health (birth to five) is the developing child’s capacity to form trusting and secure relationships, essential to sustaining engagement with their ever expanding world of people and for exploration and learning. Through relationships with important others and in the context of family, culture and community the young child develops social and emotional capacities–to experience, regulate and express emotions – that lead to a healthy sense of self, well-being, and increasing self-efficacy.
Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health Approach
The Infant Mental Health approach requires a blending of principle and practices from the fields of child development and mental health; and as such is a multidisciplinary field. The Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) practitioner’s stance is one of promoting and supporting the child’s healthy development, within the context of relationships, while considering multiple determinants, i.e., individual factors; biological and constitutional, the family’s history and contextual and cultural factors. Implicit in this stance is both the multidisciplinary and trans-disciplinary nature of the work, thus requiring a unique set of competencies informing and guiding an infant mental health approach. IECMH practitioners, therefore, must approach their work with infants, children and parents with a deep understanding of and appreciation for the mutuality of relationships, family and community systems, culture and diversity and self-knowledge.