About this course

This 1-year infant observation course is informed by psychodynamic approaches and is a foundation for anybody wishing to understand infant development and infant-parent interactions better. Infant observation is a necessary skill and practice for anyone working regularly with parents and babies.


The observation of an infant can stimulate primitive responses and raw emotional states that will be processed and thought about in the discussion seminar. This facilitates learning experientially about psychoanalytic theories of infantile states, containment and the model of transference/counter-transference that the clinical work of psychoanalysis is founded on. Professionals already working in the field with young children can learn close observation skills, which are extremely valuable in enhancing practice and advancing therapeutic interventions.

A baby aged 0-1 and their primary caregiver are observed for at least 1 hour monthly over 12 months, in the home. The student must find a suitable family in the community, preferably prior to the course beginning. A monthly write-up of the visits is then the basis for the monthly 90-minute group seminars, to discuss and hear one another's observations. Further, a 3,000-word infant observation paper is required to be submitted at the end of the course to assess your learning and its application to parent-infant work.

Who is this course suitable for?

This course is for professionals who are already working in infant, perinatal, CAMHS, childcare or Early Years settings with babies aged 0-1 and their families, who wish to develop their infant observational skills and start integrating this into their practice. It is particularly relevant for those who have not undertaken any infant observation training before and who are taking our Parent Infant Mental Health specialist training.

Aims of the course
  • Experience of observing infant development in a non-clinical family to support the understanding of developmental stages, defences and primary attachment relationships.
  • To have a basis for discussion of concepts such as ‘good enough’ parenting, including the concepts of maternal ambivalence, primary maternal preoccupation (Winnicott) and the motherhood constellation (Stern).
  • To develop self-reflective capacities in applying a psychodynamically-informed “observational stance” to practice.
  • To develop an understanding of infantile states and of the importance of infant-primary caregiver interactions.
  • Pre-course reading.
  • Monthly visits to a family home.
  • Write-up of observation sessions to share in group discussion seminars.
  • Submission of a 3,000 word infant observation paper.
Additional time information

The course will taught in a blended way, through a mix of online live and face-to-face teaching.

12x 90-minute sessions will be held monthly on Thursday evenings over the year.

A full timetable will be shared once you have been accepted onto this course.

System requirements for online training

The online platform Zoom will be used to deliver parts of this training. Prior to applying, please ensure you meet the system requirements so you're able to access this training.

Before the training, please test your equipment is working by going to and following the instructions.

  • 12 months

The Anna Freud Centre brings together those with a stake in the mental health of children and young people. Please subscribe to our mailing list to receive a bi-monthly e-newsletter and occasional updates about the Centre's training and events. 

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