Light Bulb Moments

By Tuesday, November 8, 2016 Permalink 0

Laurie Schoenberg, MFT, is the first Riverside County participant in the 2016-2017 UC Davis Extension Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship Program (IPMHFP), a highly regarded 15-month intensive, interdisciplinary training and mentoring program for professionals working with children ages 0 to 5.

Learn more about the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship program and how to apply.

LaurieSLaurie is now more than half way through the program. Read about her experience in her own words below.

I am truly amazed how quickly the time has passed since starting the Fellowship more than nine months ago!  My first blog reflected the first phase of the Fellowship:  Basic Skills & Core Concepts.  The Second Phase of the program – Learning with Luminaries of the field includes: faculty from the disciplines of medicine (pediatrics and psychiatry), psychology, nursing, neuroscience, education, special education, social work, occupational therapy, human development and psychoanalysis.  The speakers have been phenomenal and I am so honored for the intimate interactions the Fellows receive from the true heroes of the infant/early childhood mental health field.

I am growing and changing as a clinician and every month I return to my therapy office feeling challenged and encouraged to implement the concepts.

I must admit, I was beyond thrilled when I am became aware that Dr. Bruce Perry would be spending a three-day training session with the Fellows.  We are the first Fellowship to have his Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) woven throughout the entire Fellowship. NMT is NOT a therapy model; it is a way to organize a child’s history (prenatally to date), parents history and current developmental functioning through an online assessment tool available.  After the information is entered, the tool gives the user a summary of brain information, developmental information and recommendations that will meet the needs of the individual client! I have completed three so far and as a result, the insight into each client is quicker and individually tailored to assist the client in their individual needs.  We are so fortunate for this gracious opportunity from Dr. Perry!

babytotoddlerEven though each luminary has their own special contribution to the infant/early mental health field; the Fellowship is organized upon the following models and/or theory:

  • Brazelton’s Touchpoints Model
  • Bruce Perry’s Neurosequetial Model of Therapeutics
  • Kristie Brandt’s Mobius Care Model
  • The work of the late Lou Sander, MD including his Dyadic Expansion Theory

There are way too many light bulb moments to mention over the last six months but I will share just a few to reflect the breadth and depth of the information I am learning . . . .

Bruce Perry: Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT)

  • The NMT is a neurodevelopmental –informed, biologically respectful perspective on human development and functioning.
  • Children and families are best served within the context of existing relationships.
  • In the early childhood years, relationship history is a better outcome for long term mental health than the amount of adversity a person has experienced during those early years.
  • A major organizing method for humans is “rhythm”. Rhythm organizes the brain.  Mental illness leads to losing the rhythms of life (sleep for example).  Rhythm + Relationships = Regulation.

child playing with shape sorterSerena Weider: Autism Research

  • Play is the window into the child’s emotional experiences. We are dealing with emotions as we go back and forth between our experiences on the outside to the inside and the space in-between.

Connie Lillas: The NeuroRelational Framework

  • Bringing hope to darkness.
  • 3 concepts in early childhood: 1) experiences build the brain architecture 2) Relationships/interactions shape the brain  3)  toxic stress derails healthy brain development
  • NeuroRelational framework = Heart: follow Hand: lead and Head: collaborate
  • We must always meet the child developmentally

Marie Anzalon: Sensory Processing and Regulatory Challenges

  • Sensory processing disorder can be misunderstood as anxious, controlling behavior.  In reality, the child is trying to control the sensory input.  The child learns to tolerate the sensory input overtime by slowly increasing the sensory input to help them feel safe.

George Downing: Video Intervention Clinician/Parents

  • One can look at the “outer movie” (behavior of the child) or the “inner movie” (the meaning for the parent/clinician). The meaning leads to “mentalization” =conceptualizing what it feels like to be the child….all in the context of “building healthy relationships”.

Alexandra Harrison: Psychoanalytic & Psychodynamic Concepts & the Family Consultation Model

  • Psychoanalysis in infant/early childhood mental health is about relationships and our ability to be reflective about others and ourselves….the private inner life of the individual. Co-creating meaning together-“meaning making” and NOT assuming anything.

fatherdaughter16.4x10.9Kyle Pruett: Fatherhood

  • A father’s vocabulary is a stronger predictor of their child’s speech at 36 months than the mother’s speech. (N. Panscofar, Appl Dev Psych Nov 06).
  • Attachment theory leaves out fathers. Reciprocal connectedness is the goal!  Father’s skin to skin contact at birth (first 2 hours of life) = benefits for newborn: less crying, better sucking, more wakefulness and increased paternal oxytocin levels.

Maria Quintanilla: Issues Concepts Related to Foster Care and Adoption

  • The dreamed and/or feared baby is what parents need help in developing a narrative around. Helping them speak the “unspeakable”.
  • PAD= Post Adoption Depression

I am growing and changing as a clinician and every month I return to my therapy office feeling challenged and encouraged to implement the concepts.  Every month I return energized with new ways of being with babies, toddlers, children and parents and finding ways to hold them in the therapeutic space we share both inside and outside the office. Some of these changes include appreciating every individual (no matter what age) has a story waiting to be told.  Every story has significant meaning to the individual and sometimes it takes the clinical relationship to figure out what the meaning/s may be.   Supporting and understanding the significance of relationships; including the opportunities around disorganization and vulnerability.  Each of us holds an internal model of what relationships are about and sometimes these internal models become changed by the individual finding new ways to be in relationships.   I have found infant/early childhood parent mental health requires additional “time” within my clinical work to reflect on the therapeutic experiences which occur between my clients and myself.  Reflective function is a critical skill both inside and outside the therapy room.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Dr. Brazelton and is a reflection of my participation in the Fellowship –

Value passion wherever you find it.

Every month, I reflect on my appreciation to the First 5 Riverside Staff and Commissioners for this unique opportunity and their continued support for this experience of a life-time!  I am forever grateful and hope long term that children and families from Riverside County will benefit as well.  I look forward to finishing the blog in the last Phase of the Fellowship (October through April).   Until then…spread passion whenever you can!

- Fellow Laurie Schoenberg

First 5 Riverside looks forward to the information and development Laurie brings back to Riverside County. Check back soon as she continues to chronicle her journey on the First 5 years blog with keywords “Napa Fellow” 

Learn more about the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship program and how to apply.

Comments are closed.