Infant Mental Health

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The first few years of a child’s life are a blueprint for their entire future. When very young children are exposed to traumatic events, it increases their risk of long-term mental and physical health problems. Addressing issues early means healthier children who will require less intervention later in life and can reach their full potential.  Tykes & Teens Infant Mental Health therapists utilize Child Parent Psychotherapy and other evidence-based interventions for children who have experienced at least one traumatic event and as a result are exhibiting challenging behavior, attachment difficulties and/or experiencing social-emotional delays.  

Jacob’s Story

Jacob came to Tykes & Teens’ Infant Mental Health Program at only 10 months old after being removed from his home due to a traumatic event relating to his parent’s addiction.  He was exhibiting several concerning symptoms, including a lack of eye contact so severe that the child’s grandfather suspected autism.  He was not eating well and was underweight.  At a year old, he was showing no connection to his mother, and when she would leave, he would not get upset or acknowledge her departure as most babies would.

Our Infant Mental Health Specialist used scientifically-proven effective Child Parent Psychotherapy to create a healthy and safe relationship between mother and child.  The mother was able to acknowledge her role in the trauma and take responsibility, and the therapist helped her process her own trauma in order to stop the cycle.  A breakthrough occurred when the therapist noticed that while playing with the child, Jacob finally showed a response when mom squeezed a rubber block near his face.  The therapist asked the mom if she had ever blown on her baby’s face.  She said yes, that is how she used to put him to sleep.  The therapist told mom that her baby was asking her to do this again.  And when she did, he finally relaxed and made eye contact with mom.  It was as if he was saying “Mom – you’re back!”  About five months later he was returned home and is now on a healthy trajectory of development, eating well and showing great improvement in verbal, fine and gross motor skills.


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