IMH Glossary

Commonly-used IMH Terms & Phrases



A professional/service provider who has applied for the MI-AIMH Endorsement®.

Applicant’s Waiver for Reference Ratings

An agreement signed by an Endorsement® applicant waiving the right to review professional reference forms.  The waiver is on each reference rating form.  


An emotional bond between a parent/primary caregiver and infant that develops over time and as a result of positive careseeking behaviors (e.g., crying, smiling, vocalizing, grasping, reaching, calling, following) and responsive caregiving (e.g., smiling, talking, holding, comforting, caressing).

Children’s Protective Services

A state-wide system to prevent or treat the abuse and neglect of children within the Department of Health and Human Services.


Work willingly with other direct service providers, parents, community agencies, faculty, and other professionals to obtain, coordinate, and research services that effectively nurture infants and families.

Competency Guidelines®

A document that describes specific areas of expertise, responsibilities and behaviors that are required to earn the MI-AIMH Endorsement® at Infant Family Associate, Infant Family Specialist, Infant Mental Health Specialist, and Infant Mental Health Mentor. Areas of expertise, very generally described here, include theoretical foundations; law, regulation and policy; service systems; direct service skills; working with others; communicating; reflection; and thinking.


An opportunity for professionals/service providers to meet regularly with an experienced infant mental health professional to examine thoughts and feelings in relationship to work with infants, toddlers, and families.

Cultural Competence

The ability to observe, understand and respond, appreciating individual capacities and needs of infants, toddlers and families with respect for their culture, including race, ethnicity, values, behaviors and traditions.

Cultural Sensitivity

The ability to respect and acknowledge differences in beliefs, attitudes and traditions related to the care and raising of young children, remaining open to different points of view and approaching families with respect for their cultural values.

Early Childhood-Related Professional

A professional/service provider who works with infants and very young children (birth to five years). Examples include a child care provider, an early head start teacher, a family support specialist, a home visitor, a maternal support specialist, and an infant mental health specialist.


Recognition and documentation of competency within the infant and family field.

Family-Centered Practice

The infant and family professional/service provider’s ability to focus on the infant or toddler within the context of the family and to respect the family’s strengths and needs as primary.

Infant Mental Health Professional

Individuals involved in infant mental health come from many different backgrounds including Education, Nursing, Early Childhood, Psychology, Social Work, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. Other disciplines which use infant mental health principles in their work include: Family Studies, Family Therapy, Human Development, Juvenile Law, Medicine, Nutrition, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Special Education, to name just a few.

Intensive In-Service Training

Training experiences that offer opportunities for discussion and reflection about the development, behavior or treatment of infants and toddlers within the context of the family; full day training experiences or training over time, e.g., 6 hours monthly for 6 months; 3 hours monthly for 12 months.


An experienced infant mental health professional who offers guidance, support and learning opportunities to professionals/service providers within the infant and family field. An Infant Mental Health Mentor meets the requirements for MI-AIMH Endorsement® at Infant Mental Health Mentor, Clinical, Policy, and/or Research/Faculty.

MI-AIMH Endorsement® Committee

Members identified by the MI-AIMH President and Executive Board to develop the Endorsement® for infant and family professionals/service providers for the association.


The infant and family professional/service provider’s ability to describe what he/she sees when working with infants and families and to examine and reflect on the meaning of those observations with a colleague or supervisor/consultant.

Professional Development Plan

An individual approach to professional growth within the infant and family field that encourages the fulfillment of requirements for the MI-AIMH Endorsement® through education, training, and supervised work experiences.


Self aware, able to examine one’s professional and personal thoughts and feelings in response to work within the infant and family field.

Reflective Practice

Able to examine one’s thoughts and feelings related to professional and personal responses within the infant and family field.

Reflective Supervision/Consultation

Please see MI-AIMH’s document entitled, “Best Practice for Reflective Supervision/Consultation Guidelines” for a detailed definition and description.

Relationship-Based Practice

Values early developing relationships between parents and young children as the foundation for optimal growth and change; directs all services to nurture early developing relationships within families; values the working relationship between parents and professionals as the instrument for therapeutic change; values all relationship experiences, past and present, as significant to one’s capacity to nurture and support others.

Service Plan

A plan for family guidance, support and intervention that is discussed and mutually agreed upon by a professional/service provider and parent(s).


A learning experience in which a professional/service provider meets regularly with an experienced infant mental health professional to examine professional and personal thoughts and feelings in relationship to work in the infant and family field.

Share this page: !