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ITSIEY Module 2: The Developing Infant, the Couple and the Family: Understanding Relationships within a Social and Cultural Context

About this course

The infant exists within, influences and is influenced by its family and broader social and cultural context. This module expands the systemic idea that the well-being of the infant and the mother-infant dyad cannot be considered in isolation from its social and cultural ecology.

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Students will become familiar with current theory and research regarding the life cycle of the family and to the diversity of systems into which babies are born. Evidence regarding how to effectively support families in the transition to parenthood and beyond will be presented.


The course will explore how the practioners own experience links to their practice. Practical exercises will enable students to identify how to integrate a 'think family' approach into their daily practice.


Seminar 1: The developing infant: seen in context through an ecological lens

Tutor: Emily Durling

This seminar introduces Ecological Systems Theory as a theoretical orientation to understanding the context of significant relationships and prevailing social and political stories about family life in which the parent-infant relationship is developing. How practitioners may use their understanding to identify familial strengths and resources as well as challenges to healthy development is discussed

Seminar 2: The co-parenting couple: change, risk and resilience 

Tutor: Ellie Kavner

The seminar focuses on the move from family of origin to independence and relationships with intimate others and conception of child. Conscious and unconscious meanings in these transitions as well as recognisable patterns influenced by values and beliefs and social norms are discussed. Familial resources and resilience is emphasised.

Seminar 3: Fathers: understanding their significance in the world of the infant

Tutor: Jill Domoney

The seminar addresses the diverse roles of the father in relation to infant needs and relational capacities, family processes, societal ideas and cultural stories of the family. Skills to enhance the inclusion and engagement of fathers in early years work is addressed

Seminar 4:  Infant mental health and the multiplicity of family forms

Tutor: Emily Durling

The seminar explores the relationship between different caretaking/sibling contexts and emotional environments. We explore the impact of diverse family constellations – such as divorced/separation/ single parent, gay and lesbian households, adopting and fostering parents – on infant development. 

Who is this training suitable for?

ITSIEY is suitable for allied mental health professionals working in the field of infant mental health e.g. nurses, therapists, psychologists, family therapist and psychiatrists. If you have any specific questions about the suitability of the module for your practice, please email

About International Training School for Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY)

ITSIEY is the winner of 2017 Maternal Mental Health Alliance Emma Cadywould Award for Perinatal Mental Health Education and Training, see our news story here.

See ITSIEY 2018 course brochure here.

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (UK), the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust (UK) and Yale University Child Study Centre (USA) have formed a unique collaboration in establishing the International Training School in Infancy and Early Years (ITSIEY). ITSIEY opened its doors to students in January 2012 and take up from students across a range of disciplines has been good. The modules are running in the UK (London) and USA (New Haven) sites.

Itsiey offers 4 modules in 2017:

Module 1: An introduction to perinatal and infant mental health (compulsory*)

Module 2: The Developing Infant, the Couple and the Family: Understanding Relationships within a Social and Cultural Context

Module 3: Assessing and Formulating Risk and Resilience in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health

Module 5: Mentalizing in Practice; Working with Parents and Babies

Module one is the core, required module for the ITSIEY programme and a requirement to participate in the subsequent modules 2 and 3.

In some cases if potential students feel confident that their existing experience and training would already prepare them to undertake modules 2 and 3 without Module 1 then we ask you to complete the APEL Form.

Special Offer

a 5% discount is available for students who book on more than one ITSIEY module.