The VAIMH Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health (IMH-E®) is intended to recognize experiences that lead to competency in the infant-family field. It does not replace licensure or certification, but instead is meant as evidence of a specialization in this field. The VAIMH Endorsement® is cross-sector and multidisciplinary including professionals from child and/or human development, education, nursing, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, social work, and others. Endorsement® indicates an individual’s efforts to specialize in the promotion/practice of infant mental health within his/her own chosen discipline.

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.

*Upon earning Endorsement®, each Endorsed professional is required to renew Endorsement® annually. Failure to renew Endorsement® will result in being removed from the Endorsement® Registry. If an Endorsed professional does not think he/she will meet the annual renewal requirements, he/she is able to apply to be listed on the Inactive Endorsement® Registry. For more information about Annual Renewal of Endorsement® and the Inactive Endorsement® Registry, please read our Endorsement® Policies.

Infant Mental Health Endorsement

The intent of the Virginia Association for Infant Mental Health (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.

Small baby [View Image]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.

Brief Overview

There are four levels of competency within the VAIMH Endorsement:

  1. Infant Family Associate (CDA or Associates degree or 2 years paid work experience in infant & early childhood);
  2. Infant Family Specialist (Bachelor’s or Master’s w/ a minimum of 2 years paid professional work experience promoting infant mental health);
  3. Infant Mental Health Specialist (Master’s or post-graduate degree w/a minimum of 2 years supervised work experience providing relationship-focused infant mental health services);
  4. Infant Mental Health Mentor (Master’s or post-graduate degree w/a minimum of 3 years specialized work experience in at least one of three categories:
  5. Clinical-Post graduate experience as practice leader in infant mental health (e.g. infant mental health supervisor, trainer or consultant);
  6. Policy-Post graduate experience as a leader in policy and/or program administration related to the infant/family field;
  7. 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 portfolio.

The portfolio consists of a list of all educational experience accompanied by official transcripts for all college courses, degrees and/or certificates; a list of all in-service training experiences (relevant to culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice promoting infant mental health); a list of all paid work experiences with/related to infants, toddlers (birth to 3), caregivers and families; reflective supervision experiences (as appropriate); three professional reference ratings; and a signed Code of Ethics.

For levels III & IV only, a written exam is also required.  It is a 3-hour exam offered twice a year and is based on the identified competencies at Levels 3 & 4. Following completion of the written exam, a panel will review the exam and professional portfolio. The panel then makes recommendations to the Committee regarding Endorsement.

VAIMH encourages continuing professional growth and development for all members. The Association requires providers who have successfully completed the VAIMH Endorsement at all levels to continue membership in VAIMH and to participate annually in 15 hours of culturally sensitive, relationship-based training experiences that promote infant mental health practice and a minimum of 12 hours in ongoing Reflective Supervision.

Prerequisite Requirements

(1) Membership in VAIMH ($40 per year);
(2) Training/Education as specified and related to infants, toddlers, parents, other caregivers and families; and,
(3) Experience working with infants, toddlers (birth to 3), and their parents, or other caregivers and families.

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