Mindy Kronenberg, PhD, IMH-E®, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in infant mental health and the assessment and treatment of trauma across the lifespan. Kronenberg has worked in settings such as state agencies, schools, Head Start programs, dependency courts, and child welfare agencies. In this Q & A, Kronenberg talks about how she developed the self-study module Holding the Baby in Mind—When We Are Dysregulated Ourselves.
Who do you see as the audience of your module?
Mindy Kronenberg: This module is aimed at people who work with infants and young children and their families. The concept of “holding the baby in mind,” or keeping the baby or child’s perspective in mind when working with a family, is central to infant mental health (IMH) work. However, our capacity to hold the baby in mind is affected by our own stress. This module addresses an issue that is at the heart of infant mental health, leaning into the often painful emotions of the families with whom we work. Holding the baby in mind while self-regulating remains challenging for IMH practitioners regardless of the stage of their career. That’s why this module is relevant for practitioners at any point in their career.
My guess is that not all of the videos and articles I’ve chosen for the module will be brand-new to all participants. However, I’ve organized the module in a way that I hope will stimulate new ways of thinking about the content.
What are the top three takeaways that you hope students come away with from your module?
The first takeaway is that this work is hard, and it should be. The fact that we feel challenged and sometimes experience strong emotions can mean that we are fully connecting with a family. Making this connection is part of what leads to effective work.
Second, IMH work requires a strong foundation of knowledge as well as a learning mindset. In order to focus on relationships, hold the baby in mind, and be fully present with a family, we need to master core IMH competencies. I hope that this module helps practitioners consider how they can hold the baby in mind when they are dysregulated. I also hope that the ideas presented here stimulate their curiosity to seek more information.
The final takeaway is that we cannot do this work alone. We all need good reflective supervision or consultation. This type of reflective practice is not only beneficial to us, but it is beneficial to the families we serve.
Are there additional thoughts you would like to share?
While this is a self-study course, the module will be most beneficial if practitioners complete it together. We often think of the importance of regulation, learning, and exploration within relationships for infants, but the importance of relationships does not end with infancy. My hope is that, just like all IMH work, participants are able to complete this module in the context of relationships.
I’ve enjoyed putting this module together, and I hope you enjoy it as well!