Early Intervention Mental Health Services for Children 0 to 5
Research from neuropsychology and developmental psychology continues to inform us just how important it is to attend to the behavioral and maturational expressions of infants and toddlers. Contrary to past beliefs that children are born with a “blank slate”, the fetal and infant brain is euipped with innate capacities for human expression and communication in order to help them learn how to integrate, regulate, and express emotions in order to establish healthy and effective attachments with their caregiver. It is within the first 5 years of a child’s life that the social-behavioral capacity of the infant’s brain develops at its fastest rate.
An infant’s innate skills help the child to seek social and emotional responsiveness from their caregiver in order to help integrate their experiences to formulate close and secure interpersonal relationships. However, sometimes there are challenges that alter the typical course of development. Examples include pre-natal drug exposure, premature birth, foster care, trauma, adoption, caregiver inability to recognize and/or reciprocate the social-emotional needs of the child, or other developmental challenges. The result of such challenges is emotional distress and developmental delay which can alter the trajectory of lifelong development.
Infant-Preschool Mental Health Therapists provide a unique approach to identifying the needs of the child. Since infants and toddlers exist within the context of their environment and their relationship with their caregiver, assessment of the infant-caregiver relationship at home, at school, or in the therapist’s office is used to develop an effective and goal-directed treatment plan. Play therapy, caregiver support, family therapy, and other evidence-based treatments may then be used to reach those treatment goals.