Early Childhood - Grand Rapids Counseling - Grand Rapids Therapy - Grand Rapids Mental Health

Creating Better Behaviors by Improving the Parent-Child Relationship: 
the Key to
Early Childhood Mental Health

Grand Rapids Counseling - Grand Rapids Therapy - Grand Rapids Mental Health
Michigan has a Rich History of Early Childhood Mental Health beginning with the works of Selma Freiberg (author of Ghosts in the Nursery and the Magic Years). Selma Freiberg, the social worker and child psychoanalyst at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the 1970s, is credited with formalizing the importance of Infant Mental Health and developing the early approaches to child-parent psychotherapy.

Selma Freiberg stressed that the goal of the Infant Mental Health Specialist was to "mother the mother" so she can be a "mother to her baby.” Parents whose childhoods were painful often think and feel anger or hurt towards their children, who are then treated as figures from the parent’s past. 

Infant and preschool emotional and mental health is an effective way to prevent future psychological problems in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. By nurturing the child’s early beginnings, we may better prevent the formation of future behavioral health problems.

Among the strategies of intervention the Clark Institute encourages is "developmentally appropriate guidance" to parents and caregivers.  Young children need adults who can "feel with them" their full range of emotions, and help them experience and express these in ways that make them feel safe. The Clark Institute especially helps adults follow their child’s lead in play and learning.

Dr. Matthew Clark was trained at the YCS Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health in NJ and the Rose F. Kennedy Center’s Early Childhood Center in NYC in how to help parents with the relational healing process.

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