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When I say Good Day to everybody, this is Dr. Jones from the thoughtful counselor podcast. And I am ridiculously excited today for our guests we're having today. Today we have Dr. Camille Humes, who I've known for coming on a decade now. And so just really excited about us being able to talk today. And we talked about infant mental health, but we'll get into that in just a couple of minutes. So Dr. Camila Humes is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois, a licensed professional counselor in the state of Michigan, and a credentialed infant and early childhood mental health specialist. She also holds an endorsement from the Michigan Association for infant mental health, where she currently serves on a board of directors. for over 20 years, Dr. Hans has worked as a counselor, mental health consultant, and leader in the mental health profession, advocating both nationally and internationally, internationally to inform policies that support children and families. She is also regular grant review of the United States Department of Education, Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And since 2018, Dr. Higgins has been a faculty member in a School of Counseling at Divine Mercy. So despite that short introduction, we can definitely say that you've been doing a lot, so talk to us, I'm so glad you're here today.
Thank you so much. I appreciate the invitation. You know, this is a topic that I love talking about
it. For me, it is always fun to have people on here who are passionate about the things they're involved with. And so, so are talking over when we talk about infant mental health today, that's something that's I know some about but not a lie. And so I'm like, I feel like it's a good place for us to be able to give Santa shed some light on this topic. You know, I know we've known each other, going on 10 years now, just through our associations through NBCC. And presenting together and just just, we do get a lot of connection with each other. And so I'm just excited about having you on here. And just give me the opportunity to kind of talk about your passion and in this field and help us to understand as counselors, you know, how can we get involved with this and how this looks like. So, one things I always like to start off with is like, Tell me Tell us a little bit about what brought you into the counseling field?
Well, I've been a counselor for over 20 years. And the interesting thing about it is that when I was in graduate school working on my master's, I thought that I would only work with individuals. I realize in hindsight, it's because I think that's all I felt prepared to do. So it was sort of that moment of okay, I think I can do that. But if you put multiple people in a room and put a child in the room, I'm gonna be lost and confused. And so I've always had a desire to help people always wanted to support wellness. And so counselling was definitely a good fit for me. Again, I hadn't thought about working with young children, but found myself having an opportunity to do that because of a colleague who had a Head Start contract. One of my dear friends and colleagues, Dr. Ernest Webb asked me to help him with a workshop with parents. And I, you know, I said, Okay, you know, fine, no problem, I'll support you. And I didn't think I'd like it. I don't think he knew that at the time. But didn't think it was really going to be my thing. But I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And so from there, I continued to do work with Headstart eventually got my own contract as an infant mental health consultant with Headstart, and then just continued to try and continue to learn continue to immerse myself into the profession, and found that it's something that I'm really passionate about. So it's been about 20 years or more since then.
So I appreciate that you kind of given kind of that background there. I remember the first time I met you, and we were all kind of going around room talking about our specialty areas and things like that. And the first thing that pops out of your mouth is infant mental health. And I was sitting there kind of scratching my head. I thought I made it up. Exactly. This is baby counseling. I didn't know what it was so so just So just for our listeners, I think it helps us to get a good understanding what exactly is infant mental health? Because for me, it's that's always been hard for me to kind of conceptualize exactly what that what that is.
That's a good question. I get it everywhere I go. And I always say to people, I did not make this up, I promise you. So infant mental health is all about the social and emotional development of young children typically birth to five, and really focuses on relationships, the parent child relationship, caregiver relationship, for the purpose of thinking about development over time thinking about those developmental milestones that we all know are important for children to meet. So it's information that we share to parents, as infant mental health consultants, we work with all caregivers, we work with professionals, medical professionals, we work with teachers, we work with those in leadership at schools. I mean, there's so many places that we enter in to do the work, because we know that social and emotional development for all of us, including young children, is important. So that's primarily the focus of the work. And that's in a nutshell what it is. So people often think when I talk about infant mental health, they think we're medicating babies. I think we're diagnosing babies with severe mental health issues. And that's not the case. Although there can be times that there are some red flags, there are some concerns that present, it really is about a proactive approach to supporting young children and families. So that's one of the things that I love about it. It's not about let's jump in and find what's wrong with families or find what's wrong with children. It's all about what is going well, and how can we strengthen relationships and strengthen that developmental process for young children.
So as you're kind of thinking about infant mental health is just like a certain age range, you get this, this focuses in on,
typically birth to five, although some may say birth to seven, some may say Birth to Three, you'll hear different age ranges. But essentially, we're talking about working with mothers working with parents working with caregivers as soon as possible. So even when a woman is pregnant, infant mental health consultants will work alongside the mothers work alongside those who are part of that support system to really help the mom think about what it means to carry the child now, I don't mean, literally, okay, you're pregnant. Congratulations. It's not that but beyond that, what are some things that you can do early on and continuously to help your child thrive. And so the earlier we can start supporting the families, the better and so we say birth to five, we say birth to seven. But essentially, we start early, even when the woman is pregnant, some may say even at conception before conception, because we really want families to be thinking about their role and the significance of their role, and helping their child develop and be healthy.
It's to me, it sounds like there's a lot of education is going in, and also like prevention, in a lot of ways in the work that you do.
There is a lot of education, a lot of focus on prevention and intervention, just as there is in the counseling profession. So that's one thing, again, that I love about infant mental health that aligns well with what I know about counseling, what I do as a professional counselor. So I'm able to use my skills and training really from both professions, to help families so we do focus on prevention, we want to really mitigate some of the issues that can appear in adulthood. We know from research that there is a correlation between what parents, families caregivers can do at a young age, and what can be prevented at an older age. So there are some times that we see the onset of mental illness and adults. And as an infant, mental health consultant we can think about and we can determine that there's sometimes rooted in lack of support, lack of education, lack of resources at an earlier age. So prevention and intervention is definitely significant and important in this field.
So you know, I can say we're not the first time I heard this, this this concept, like say, it was one of the things I didn't really understand and then grassroots. But why do you think a lot of therapists will kind of fall into kind of same kind of category? I mean, there were when when, when implement mental health pops up, they're kind of like, what is that? What what was there? I guess there's not as much exposure about this as maybe other areas of mental health.
You know, you and I know that there's a stigma about mental health services, period. So here's that. So imagine thinking about working with families working with adults and thinking about mental health services. So there's that there's already a stigma, there's already a fear. There's already a lot of misnomers out there about what is counseling. And so then you take it a step further and say, Okay, let's have a baby. In a counseling relationship. Let's have a toddler as part of a counseling relationship, and it really scares people away. And so I think that for many, there's the Oh, that developmentally, we can start at an earlier age. So I remember being in a master's program learning about working with young people, young people, meaning adolescence, but not prior to adolescence did we have any experience or really training in what developmental milestones should be met? What a social and emotional health and wellness look like prior to that age. So I think for a lot of counselors, a lot of counseling students, there is the fear of the unknown. There's the thought that maybe this wasn't a focus as part of my graduate curriculum. And so maybe it's not something I need to know more about. And so we go about our business as I know, I did initially when I got my counseling degree, thinking about adults thinking about social emotional development for that population, but not really thinking about implications for intervention and opportunities for intervention at a younger age. So I think it just can really escape us, I think it really can have us believing that we can ignore sometimes some of the things that we experienced at a younger age, of course, we talked about birth to five, many of us don't remember a lot of what was going on there. So you know, we're adults in therapy, we're not necessarily thinking, Well, when I was three, you know, I could have been more attached, securely attached to my mom, or when I was four, this is what happened. But as infant mental health consultants, we know that it's important to think about that, and to ask those kinds of questions, even of adults. So I think there's just a lot of room to continue to educate counselors about infant mental health, a lot of opportunities to remind us that we all start there, we all start with a birth, we all start with a family, whether it's adoptive family, a foster family, biological family, with cousins down the street, that's like family that Auntie next door is not really an anti, you know how that goes. So we all start with a community of support that has influence and impact on who we become, and how we develop socially and emotionally. And so it's important to be able to think about that, it's important to contextualize that and have conversations about that, because unlike some of the other specialties, that we can think about, and we can learn more about in this profession. We can't say no one can argue that we didn't all start as infants, that we didn't all go through that stage of development. So we may not all have in common a history of substance abuse or may not have the need to have a specialization in hypnotherapy. And it's not to knock any of those specialties. But we all have in common our clients all have in common that we started as babies, and that social emotional development for all of us was and it is important.
I know, as a counselor, educator, you understand there's no teaching that human development class for me that for me, I love that that's my background is it's I love that human development. But a lot of people don't know that's not like a specialty that people like really want to get into. But even from even from when you think about that class being taught on the graduate level, we read our spin it didn't say most educators spent a lot of time on the infant period, we will talk about attachment to a certain extent, right, but then we gotta get to the next chapter move on, you know, so
teenagers were attached. They were teenagers. Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
So it so definitely sounds like this could be something that could easily be integrated more into our counseling education programs, to help counselors to get a better grasp of this, even if they may not become specialists, but at least give them more understanding of why it's important.
Absolutely. And I make sure that whenever I teach a lifespan development or human development class, I do integrate a lot of that material, a lot of what I understand about infant mental health, and students are really, usually shocked to learn that it's a specialty in that it is a profession within its own right. And so I love having conversations with students, I love debating with them, as some will say, you know, I don't know, if it matters so much what happened when we were younger, I focus more on the present with, you know, I think about focusing more on the present when I think about working with clients. So I think about being more solution focused. And you know, I don't know if we have to think about what happened when we were three. And my response is always you don't have to think about it. But essentially, it's part of the fabric of who you are. It's part of how we think about and are able to define and understand how you are in your relationships in particular, how you are socially, emotionally, I think, for example of adults, though, and tantrums, you know, I can't help but wonder how long has that been going on? tantrums when you were younger? What's what's happened, what's been going on that your response to situations or your behavior and relationships is the way it is? Where does that come from? You know, what were your formative relationships like such that now you present to the world in a way that you do? It's not as if this has just been a recent A behavioral phenomenon for most people. For most people, it's been Yes, I've always been this way, or this is what I was taught, or this is what I saw in the house, or this was what was encouraged by my parents or caregivers. And so when students share information like that, I sit back and I just smile and say, oh, so when you were younger, you're saying, This is what happened when you were younger? This is what your relationship was like, with your parents. So with your caregivers, and so then they get it, they kind of pause and say, Yeah, you know, get get a point. So those are always good moments for me.
Now, I know you've you've been doing it for mental health for a long and work in this area for a long time. What do you feel like have been some like some of the major changes that well, these were just the, you know, over the past decade, what are some of the changes you've seen that has happened?
I think there's more awareness of what infant mental health is, I know, it almost seems contrary to what we were just saying it, people just don't know, if at all, but more and more people are starting to think about trauma, we're hearing a lot about trauma, there's a lot of trauma in the world. Right now, a lot of recent events have happened, that have people using trauma, almost as a buzzword. But when I think about trauma, I think about all the work and the research that has been done to really highlight how trauma affects the brain. And I think about that on when I think about adults, of course, but I also think about those different interactions that children have that babies have, that can be traumatic for them. And that literally can shape the brain and can impact their ability to process can impact how they socialize can impact their communication skills. So in so many ways, when we go back to prevention and intervention, we think about how we can best prepare children to function in this world. And so again, when you think about so much this happening today in this world, how have we been prepared for this? Now, there are some things I understand that are happening world events that I mean, I don't know what could have prepared us before. So I'm not professing the infant mental health as a cure all. But what I am suggesting is that as we think about that profession is and we think about social and emotional development of young children, there really is some weight there, there really is some meaning there is really a predictor of how you can handle adverse situations how you can function, when there is trauma all around you so much of how adults function can be traced back to traumatic experiences, or how they were able to be resilient in the face of trauma. There's definitely a correlation there much resource, much research to support that. So that's been a change within the last 10 years. The other thing that I think has happened is that there's a lot of policy and a lot of funding that is going towards work with young children and families not enough. I think all of us when we're passionate about something feels like okay, more money, one where we need some money is not enough. So not enough. But as a federal grant reviewer, I've been able to see and we're really excited about the fact that there's more and more funding going towards mental health services for young children. And sometimes it's about therapy. Sometimes it's about having a consultant in schools, in infant mental health consultant in schools. Sometimes it's about developing a curriculum that really supports social and emotional development. But again, that funding is key and matters and has been helpful. And I've seen it grown exponentially within the last 10 years towards the effort of supporting young children and their families. And that's I keep saying that, because it's so important to work with young children and for young children is not done out of context, or separate from the work with the entire family, whomever those family members might be, or however they are identified.
Now I'm loving here, and I can actually talk that you mentioned before just a family, how are you defined family and how important that that aspect has to be a part of this whole process? Absolutely.
Absolutely. Yeah. People think that I have, you know, a one year old in my office and I'm saying okay, so how are you doing today? It's not that though I love babies, as you can imagine. So, but it's about having the parents or caregivers there too. And using psycho education, being able to learn more about the parents, what are some of their strengths? What are some of their goals? What are some of their concerns, being able to observe their children is really important. Being able to pay attention to interactions and behaviors, looking again, for those developmental milestones? You know, what age is the child and at what age should the child be doing a variety of things whether it's using their hands to pick up something, whether it's responding, turning their heads when mom or dad speaks or caregiver speaks. They're just certain things that we look for that we want to have happen. as really a marker of wellness for that child. And so sometimes it's simply that helping a parent identify some of those milestones, and then celebrating with them to be able to say congratulations, your child is right on point your child is doing exactly what he or she should be doing. Because parents can be concerned, especially first time parents can be really nervous, really concerned, my child is screaming, and I say wonderful. And they say, What do you mean wonderful, as if she was a scream and had because our because she shouldn't be screaming right now, you know, there's something going on. And she's responding to she's communicating, keep fostering that, keep encouraging her to communicate to you. So a lot of times, parents don't recognize certain things like screaming or throwing things or picking up things. And, you know, I can remember when my children were little, so often I felt like I was saying, Stop touching that stop touching that stuff to get away from their will really move away from it, or come here sit out, you know, all those things that we say. But essentially what the children are doing is what they're supposed to be doing. They're supposed to be touching and exploring and thinking about their environment and engaging within their environment. And we know it's important for them to be safe. So a lot of times to sit down and stop that is all about safety. But again, I'm more concerned as an infant mental health specialist, when I don't see those things happening, when children aren't reacting and responding and reaching out and touching things and making noises and all the things that sometimes honestly, we can take for granted, that can be a concern when they're absent. So so many times I'm working with parents just to hear their concerns, help them understand a little bit about what typical development looks like for their child's age, and then put it in some context for them so that they can be assured that what they're doing is what they shouldn't be doing. And if there's something more or different that can be done, then I'm there to help support them in that way to
inform me, as I'm kind of taking all the sin, it almost sounds like there's like this, a breaking of generational cycles that's going on, you know, because I think, well, I watch that, like I know, you know, we go back a couple of generations ago, it's gotten the kids were seen and not heard your mentality. And then they have children who grow up. And they take some of that with them in their own parenting style. And so if so if you've been taught to parent one way, and then go see Dr. Hughes, and she's telling you something totally different. It's a difference aside, because it's a big paradigm shift for a lot of people, because what you're saying doesn't match? Well, maybe what I've been brought up with culturally or match up with what, what has been done to my family for generations and generations.
Absolutely. And I'm glad you bring it up in that way. Because culture matters, we have to consider as you know, as a counselor off also, as an infant, mental health specialist, we have to consider cultural context, we have to consider those traditions, we have to consider parenting styles. And so our job is to not go in to the home, if it's home based services, or have families come into our office and say, well, that's not appropriate, or you shouldn't do this, or you shouldn't do that. But to learn the why behind what parents do to consider cultural implications, I'm certainly not one to say to parents, not to be about children being seen and not heard, because I remember that. And I've said that, as a parent, myself, and my children are grown now. But I remember well, and if they were here, now, it would probably be the same way that they would say, okay, my mom was talking, let me be quiet, let me sit down, let me go somewhere else, let me get out of the way. And so those things matter. I mean, that's part of who I am as a parent. And so I respect that in other parents as well, that there are some traditions, there are some parts of their culture that are, of course going to show up in a parenting relationship. And so that's important to know, and most importantly, important to respect and honor and again, not be about telling parents that they're doing something wrong. I think the concern comes in if the child's functioning is being impacted in some way. Or if the parent is becoming frustrated, saying, Look, this is how I grew up, talk about generational traditions or habits if the parent is getting frustrated, so my mom always did this, and this is what I knew when this isn't working for my child, then that may be an opportunity to say, Okay, let's think about something different. Let's try something different. And again, it's not to disrespect their culture or tradition, but it's about not wanting parents to be so frustrated. So you're getting frustrated, you're getting overwhelmed, because you're doing what was done, when you were younger, or what other people are telling you to do. But clearly as the expert in your child's life, you see, it's not working, it's not working for you. It's not working for the kid. So let's do something else. And so sometimes that's what support looks like to is to say, Okay, let's think about what else we can do. Let's honor our parents. Let's honor our forefathers understand that what they've done is the best that they can do, and it served its purpose and that they did well by us. Best as they could. But in this moment, we're in a whole different space and time. And sometimes it's your child is just different. Your child is responding differently. They're unique people, those little people, those two year olds, they're unique people. And sometimes it's hard for parents to see them as people with their own personalities and their own desires. And sometimes it's the thought of No, he shouldn't be that way. Or he shouldn't react that way, or that's not what I want him to do. And then developing personalities early, really early earlier than I think a lot of us understand. And so part of my role often is to help parents even understand that, that you know, he has preferences. And you know, I've had parents say to me, I don't care what his preferences. What do you mean, this is what he wants? So this is what he tried to do. I don't have to worry about what he wants. And so I get that to understand that conversation really well. And so I have to walk that line between, okay, I think this is what he wants, and he's trying to say or what he's trying to do. And okay, you mom, I get it, you're not about having him run the house, I get it. So it's a fine line sometimes to walk in that way.
And I really like how you said earlier about helping people to understand, though, why I can remember times working with parents, and I'll ask the question, are you what does it go behind what you're doing right now? Are you wanting the behavior to stop? Or are you wanting them to learn something from this process to help them to grow into a healthy adult? And though I think it was prompted are very, very helpful. Because I mean, I'm a parent, you know, and I know that a lot of times, if you asked my wife, I just want to stop the behavior and just stop. But that's not really helping the situation, because I know not running everything. But that's so yeah, I can, I can definitely I that will be a fine line to walk I'm trying to, I'm trying to honor this person's cultural background on under traditions, but also gently challenged that those things as well, to help them to see okay, what is your go, What's your why you have?
And then it's as it ties into, you know, what I said earlier, it goes back to what I said earlier, about the development and developmental milestones. And what is typical, what do you typically see or expect, in a child that's one year old or two years old, for example, and, you know, parents usually get it when I use this example, if you tell a child Don't touch that, whatever that is, say that as a cup, don't touch that. And then the child later touches next to the cup, something different, just say it's a book and you say, don't touch that, well, depending on the age of the child, the child doesn't understand what that is, or doesn't generalize that command, if you will, to understand that he or she isn't supposed to touch anything on that shelf. So often is it's helping parents understand the thought process, the developmental thought process of that child to say, well, you know, I don't know if he understands yet, when you say Don't touch that, that you really don't want him over in that area at all. Or that he's touching a cup and you say, Don't touch that. But that's a blue cup. There's a red cup also in the child touches that because the child doesn't realize can't conceptualize, oh, don't touch the cups at all. I get it that sometimes comes at a later age. And so parents have that aha moment of oh, I guess you got a point. So sometimes we think children understand more than what they do. And sometimes we don't we take for granted what they do understand. So it can work both ways. And so it's always funny to me when parents get that aha moment of okay, I get it. So I've been frustrated, because I keep saying, I keep telling him Don't touch that. Don't touch that. And then I have to ask, well, what is that? What is that? You know, is that really what you mean? And do you understand what he sees as that? So there's, there's just this developmental process that is ongoing and ever present in the lives of children that we as parents, and I say we, because I don't understand it all my children are little, but we don't always understand or think about, especially when, like you said, you just wanted to stop. That's what you mean. Just don't just don't do it just. But you got curious kids who are exploring as opposed to wondering if I touch that cup, what's gonna happen? Is the cup gonna fall? Am I gonna be able to pick it up? You know, maybe they're working on those skills, you know, trying to use their fingers in a certain way, because they've seen others grabbing things. And so they want to know, what is this grabbing thing about? So let me see if I can grab their cup. So sometimes there really is a logic I will really almost always there's a logic behind what children are doing. We just don't know what it is. And it can be frustrating and annoying and all that stuff that I can admit to his parents. Sometimes it's just annoying. Like developmentally I understand what are you doing but it's just annoying right now. So just that.
And I don't want to put any words in your mouth or anything, but it almost it almost sounds like that. If if someone is saying stop doing certain things, and it's just stalking behavior, it may actually maybe hinder that child's creativity and that they have because developmentally, I'm supposed to be exploring. Yeah. And I'm, and I'm now allowed to explore. So it's like, I'm missing out. Big developmental pieces here.
Yeah, what do children do children learn through play. And so when you don't allow them to play, and we may think of play as playing with blocks, or playing in a real structured, specific way, but children are playing and exploring all the time as they should be. And so as parents, we have to create an environment in which is safe for them to do so and healthy for them to do so. And that can be a lot of the work. And it takes time. A lot of time, sometimes that it's been years, we feel like we don't have like, I can't set everything up perfectly. I can't keep them out of harm's way all the time. And so again, it can be that frustration that parents have and thinking about, again, walking that line, you know, thinking about, okay, I know that my child should explore, I know that this is healthy, but at the same time, I don't have time to teach every single moment, I don't have time to always explain to the child or set up the environment as such that the child can be healthy, and not hurt themselves, and that hurt somebody else. But yeah, it's so important that children learn through play, and that we recognize that when they're doing things they really are learning and sometimes imitating, which is a whole different conversation. Yes, yeah. Children listening to what a children's seeing. And so many times parents don't have an awareness around that either. Children are listening. At six months at infancy. It even when you're pregnant children are listening, they can hear So Kenny process everything? Of course not can they make meaning of everything they hear? Of course not, not at first. But by the time the child is 1234 years old. There's a whole different understanding about what's what's been seen, and what's been heard. And so it's that's more of the work that I'll do with parents is to help them understand how they're contextualizing or sometimes not what they're saying, and hearing. So, so much work, the parents have to do so much good work so much hard work. So much that we can do to really encourage and support our children, so many wonderful opportunities to really enrich and enhance their development. But it's not easy. As for sure.
It just sounds like it'd be really beautiful partnership that the therapist is having with the parents to help them to see things that they just may not know, and what and what the long term result is not. Even though it's called mental health. This is I will say is it's about the family, like you said earlier, it's it's not only just affect the individual, it's like the entire family, everybody there, that in our system there. And so I think that's, that, to me is a kind of a beautiful picture. Well, this one was telling me what to do with that.
Yeah, and it's important that parents and caregivers are really intentional about the things that they do and say, because we have to keep the social and emotional development of our children in mind. So it's one thing to think about safety, of course, you know, as far as we want our children be saved. It's another thing to think about those milestones like walking, you know, when we have babies, I can't wait to, you know, she can walk or I can't wait to she can run I can't wait to she started school, it's the first day of school, you know, there are those milestones. But I've seen too many kindergarteners, I've seen too many children, three and four years old, and preschool, who don't have basic social skills, who don't know how to share, who don't know how to communicate frustration, who don't know how to engage with others, their age, or even other adults in a way that's appropriate. And so when that happens, I'm automatically thinking about the home environment, I'm automatically thinking about their extended environment, meaning the support system and places they go outside of the home. Thinking about those in the extended support system. Again, it could be neighbors, it could be a coach, it could be a friend, or whomever. And I'm wondering what's happening in the context of those relationships such that this four year old is in this educational environment and is throwing toys that everybody will fight and everybody was obstinate with the teacher? What's going on what's missing, what could have helped that child earlier, be able to transition into the school environment, or be able to communicate in a different way, not get frustrated, mad scream every time he can't play with a toy, for example. So again, there are some things that we see in young children. There are some things that we like to see when that same child is 15. And it's like, yes, yeah. thought out that earlier saw that coming. Because sometimes it's just the skills that just haven't been developed or interventions or support that hasn't been provided, unfortunately. So we can see it happening? I mean, there's there's so much research with children who have been followed longitudinal studies where over time these children have had certain interventions and support at a very young age or not. And of course, variables such as household configuration and who's in the home, how often are people engaged with the child? I mean, there are many, many variables. But nevertheless, research has just shown, as I said earlier, that there's a direct correlation between what happens when children are young, and how they present when you're older, whether it's an adolescence or whether it's an adulthood. So definitely something to think about and be mindful of, I think, I think about it a lot. I mean, even as I'm engaged in relationships with adults, I'm thinking, what was going on in your parent shower? What was going on in your household when you were younger? I always wondered about that. I can't help it.
So you see, it began as a really good like picture of what infant mental health is and how effective it is. So what what what is the therapist? Where will we go to kind of start this whole process that we obviously we can't get on your own level by now. But let's let's start on a process, okay. Getting them to a process of learning how to be become, I'm not sure if the certification or what have you, but what it looks like, what was the process of likely to get more educated in this area?
Good question. There are so many certifications and credentials. So for example, you mentioned when you read my bio, that I'm on the board for the Michigan Association for infant mental health. And Michigan is actually where infant mental health started. It's where the term was coined. And so there are many training opportunities through my aim is the acronym for people who want to learn more about infant mental health who eventually want to be endorsed as I am, through my aim. So at different levels of endorsement, there are different training opportunities, educational opportunities to obtain an endorsement. I'm also credential through the Illinois Association for infant mental health, not always gotta mention, I'm from Chicago, so gotta get that in there. I was a little late, I know. So yeah, so I'm credentialed to the Illinois Association. And in Illinois, which is where I got the first credential and really started working with young children, I was able to participate or attend a lot of workshops and conferences that the Illinois Association had, I was plugged into zero to three, which is a national organization that provides again, training opportunities and resources for people who want to learn more about child development. There's a lot of resources for children, there's a lot of resources, I mean, net for children, about children, obviously, but for parents of young children, for professionals, for teachers, for mental health providers, for many, many people who basically have input and have impact on a child's life. So those are a couple or a few resources. There's also what used to be called an ounce of prevention, headquartered in Chicago, but it's now start early. So they provide a lot of training and resources as well. A lot of people don't realize that there is a world association for infant mental health. So again, I didn't make this up. All of this precedes me. So there's a world Association. There are many, many chapters throughout the country of infant mental for infant mental health. So if people are anywhere in the country, essentially anywhere in the world, you can literally Google infant mental health. Or you may if you're in Wisconsin, may Google Wisconsin Association for infant mental health, and so much information will pop up so many opportunities to plugging in to get trained to get credentialed to get certified, in addition to my endorsement, and my credential, also got a certificate in infant mental health. So I have the education as well as the training in the field so you know how to use as a counselor, once you get plugged into organizations, once you have a specialty you find out about everything is going on within that room. So no different for infant mental health, or used to get a chance to practice much. I do. Yeah, I do. I have a chance to do a lot of my work through contracts. So many people will ask for me to be a consultant, whether it's something that is a short or long term relationship, or could be one time, can you come out and do a workshop training for my staff? Can you work with this particular family? Because we have some concerns about the child's behavior, and mom is frustrated that mom is overwhelmed. And you know, we need someone to come in and provide support. And the other thing that I've been doing a lot more of lately is really trying to impact policy really trying to through grant reviews. When I did my internship at the US Department of Education, I had a chance to meet with some of the key stakeholders who make decisions about funding. So I've really been trying to advocate and do work and This field on different levels, even such as my board membership, with my aim, to influence and impact the work in a lot of different ways, and get the word out about infant mental health and the importance of us, as counselors to be trained in that area to be aware of what it is and to develop skills, and working with young children and families. And I say that, even when we're working with adults, you know, I challenge counselors all the time, who say, you know, I don't work with kids, I don't work with kids. And I say, what if your client has a kid?
What if your client is thinking about some issues or concerns they have about their children? What would you say? One of my first encounters, if you will, with a young child that may be uncomfortable, is when I had an adult client who brought her two year old into session, and I was thinking, I hope he just goes to sit over there and play and be quiet because because I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. If you know, she tells me she has issues with him if his behavior changes and changes the dynamic of this session, I don't know what questions to ask. I don't know what to do. So I hope he just will sit and be quiet. And, you know, I hate even saying that. Now, it's difficult for me, because I'm thinking, Man, that's horrible. But I didn't know any better. I didn't have the training. I didn't know what to do. I, you know, when I had adult clients, I didn't know what questions to ask if they were to say, Oh, I just had, you know, children, or I got two year old twins. And I was like, Oh, that's nice. And they just keep going because I'm thinking, you know, how are they? What are their names? They don't Okay. After that is like, I don't know what else to ask. I don't know the importance. You know, I didn't know at the time the importance of asking parents about their development or asking them well, how are you doing? You know, you get two year old twins. How are you doing? What are some concerns you have about, you know, your children, if any, what are some things that maybe we can talk about that can help you help them develop? Well, those are things I think about now that I never would have before. So I was just uncomfortable, and uneducated. And I don't want that for other counselors. I don't want that for families. I don't want that for the young children who really need support. And sometimes they have those flags out there and nobody sees them, or nobody knows what to do about them.
Why don't we get close to the end of our times kind of this this wondering more? Was this something that you do just feel like, hey, people just need to know that we might not cover today on mental health? It's just like just a nugget we need. We could walk away with it that will help us as we as we understand this a lot more and in the process that you go through?
Did I say enough that I didn't make this up? Can we have that be a takeaway?
Yeah, definitely a takeaway to you did not make this.
I think what's important to understand is that people need not be fearful of infant mental health consultants, infant mental health specialists. I mean, there are many different titles that we carry. People need not feel embarrassed, parents especially need not be embarrassed if there are concerns about their children. If they have questions about child development, I think it hopefully will be encouraging as people listen to this podcast to know that there are people who are certified who are credentialed who are trained in supporting parents of young children. So I really would just encourage parents to feel like it's okay to say I need help. I'm overwhelmed. I'm not sure what's going on, or is this normal? Because that's often the question I get, too Is this normal, this is what my child is doing. And then for professional counselors to really take seriously the thought that as we talk about prevention and intervention, prevention starts early. You know, it's one thing to think about the onset of a problem and think about what can we do now so that it doesn't get exacerbated. But prevention can start earlier than that, we can think about what happened in childhood, when we're working with parents, we can work with younger children and not be afraid to get the training though, we don't just randomly be doing stuff, get the training, but that we don't have to be afraid to support young children and families and that we need to be mindful of the importance of that work as we're seeing so much happening now that people are saying as a result of mental illness, and so many people are in crisis. And so there's a lot that we can do on the front end, maybe that will help mitigate or prevent some of what we're seeing now and the adults with which we interact.
Okay, I just want to say thank you so much for being on here with us today. I have learned a lot. Absolutely. And I appreciate appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule to share your expertise with us and to help us to grow so that you hopefully we have more people who are interested in this area. We can no more battle now. And we can grow up on that but I'd do that Appreciate your passion for this field and specifically in the mental health because I know anytime I bring it up to you, you're just kind of like,
I know and this time we fast. I'm thinking, Wait a minute, I got my five or six more things. But it's all good. I understand. I appreciate you asking me to join you,
man. Thank you. And we never have to do this again. I enjoyed talking with you about this. And yes, well, we'll have to do this again sometime.
Absolutely. All right. Thank you. All right, thank you.
Thoughtful counselor is Deza Daniel, Raisa Miller, Aaron Smith, Jessica Taylor, ACU. Diane Ananias really telling and me Megan sosiale Find us online at the thoughtful counselor.com. Our funding is provided by Palo Alto University's Division of Continuing and Professional Studies. Learn more about them at Palo Alto u.edu forward slash concept. The views and opinions expressed on the thoughtful counselor are those of the individual authors and contributors and don't necessarily represent the views of other authors and contributors, nor of our sponsor, Palo Alto University. So if you have an idea for an episode, general feedback about the podcast, or just want to reach out to us, please drop us a line at the thoughtful email@example.com Thanks for tuning in and we hope to hear from you soon.