Harris Center For Infant Mental Health

Overview | Faculty | Orleans Parish Infant Team | Young Children and Military Families | Developmental Disorder Assessment | On-Going Community Engagement | Training Collaborations | Community Parent-Child Groups | ResourcesPublications | Awards | Curriculum

HarrisTwoChildren

Overview
Over two decades ago, the LSUHSC Department of Psychiatry began the Harris Center for Infant Mental Health that offers training to predoctoral psychology interns (through an APA approved infant-child internship), child psychiatrists (as a required part of their residency training program), post-doctoral psychologists, social workers, licensed professional counselors, and other professionals seeking infant mental health specialization. The program is multidisciplinary and unique in fulfilling requirements for psychology and child psychiatry training programs being the first predoctoral internship in infant mental health recognized and approved by both the American Psychological Association (APA) and Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC). The child psychiatry rotation began as a six-month experience; however, after learning how much residents were benefitting from the rotation, the child psychiatry faculty made it a mandatory part of training.  All trainees, from all disciplines, consistently rank their experience in the Harris Center for Infant Mental Health a top part of their training.

Harrisjdo-with-child

During the infant mental health training, clinicians learn how to conduct infant and parent/caregiver-child relationship evaluations and provide treatment for young children (under 6 years) and their parents or caregivers using evidence-based practices.  Education includes didactics and clinical experiential work every week related to developmental context, behavioral and emotional issues, and the etiology and expression of psychopathology. The training program includes: 1) weekly didactics; 2) development of clinical skills; 3) knowledge gained from infant observation; 4) achievement of evidence-based practices in infant mental health; and 5) participation in both individual and group reflective supervision.  Trainees learn the importance of observational skills in diagnosis and treatment of infants, young children, and families and come to understand when a child is referred with behavioral or emotional dysregulation that “behavior has meaning” for both the clinicians and the parents with whom they work. Trainees also learn more about normative infant development in addition to psychopathology by following the development of a low risk, normally developing baby as a basis for understanding disruptions in development. During the course of their training, trainees assess and provide treatment for at least two young children under the age of 6 years with their parents or caregivers.  Trainees learn child-parent psychotherapy (CPP), a relationship-based approach, which is the primary treatment of choice within the program. If a trainee successfully completes the CPP requirements, they can be rostered in CPP at the end of the training year.  All trainees are also taught other evidence-based treatments such as Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up, and parenting interventions such as Circle of Security. For psychiatrists, they learn alternatives to medication management; trainees from other disciplines are exposed to information about when medications are considered and ways that this approach can also support treatment for older children.  Additionally, trainees learn to diagnose children, if needed, using the DC:0-5 classification system.

This is our current Harris Infant Mental Health Faculty: 

Director:
Joy D. Osofsky, Ph.D
(504) 296-9011
josofs@lsuhsc.edu 

Co-Director:
Amy Dickson, Psy.D.
(504) 458-0906
adicks@lsuhsc.edu 

Coordinator:             
Amy Rinner, Psy.D.
(504) 272-7664
arinn1@lsuhsc.edu

Faculty:
Amy Alvarez, LCSW
Chikira Barker, M.A
Kristin Callahan, Ph.D.
Gerard Costa, Ph.D.
Richard Costa, Psy.D., MP
Sharon Crane, LOTR, BCP
Sebastian Del Corral, Psy.D.
Amy Dickson, Psy.D.
Diane Franz, Ph.D
Amy Huffer, Ph.D.
Mindy Kronenberg, Ph.D.
Lakisha Mamon, M.D.
Christy Mumphrey, MD
Joy Osofsky, Ph.D.
Lisa Phillips, MSW, LMSW
Amy Rinner, Psy.D.
Kathy Robison, Ph.D.
Hannah Scott, M.D.
Jayne Singer, Ph.D.
Phillip Stepka, Psy.D
Krystal Vaughn, Ph.D.
Deborah Weatherston, Ph.D.

LSUHSC Infant Team
The LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) Department of Psychiatry Infant Team has been continuously funded to provide infant mental health services to all children ages 0-5 years in foster care in Orleans parish since May 1998.  In January of 2019, the Infant Team expanded to treat young children in four parishes on the North Shore.  As of June 30, 2021, the Infant Team had worked with 348 families with children in foster care. This equates to 590 children referred, with 462 children actually engaging in evaluation and/or treatment.  Over the years, the Infant Team has supported the court efforts in helping to attain 100% permanency with all of the children referred to the LSUHSC program by being reunified with either their biological parent(s), adopted by a relative, or by a non-relative foster parent.  Once permanency has been achieved, to our knowledge over 97% have not had any further involvement with DCFS.  This team is also a part of one of the early Baby Courts and is a model for best services for young children in foster care.

Additional information about our Infant Team

Young Children and Military Families
LSUHSC clinicians provide mental health consultation services for military children and their families at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Plaquemines Parish, LA. Clinicians provide both center and school-based consultation and direct services to elementary school-aged children (K-8), as well as children aged 6 weeks – 5 years of age at the Child Development Center (CDC) located on base. Consultation services are available in cases of classroom management, difficult child behaviors, and the integration of individualized accommodations into the classroom.  Individualized treatment, group services and trainings are also available for a variety of conditions and topics. Areas of consultation, treatment and training expertise include, but are not limited to, managing disruptive and socially isolating classroom behaviors, integrating personalized accommodations and treatments into the classroom setting, social-emotional education with expertise in the training and implementation of social skills, and parental and teacher consultation, child-parent psychotherapy, cognitive-behavior therapy, and social skills groups when needed.

Developmental Disorder Assessment

HarrisInfantSmiling

Harris Center for Infant Mental Health trainees are taught “gold-standard”, empirically informed, standardized assessments of gross and fine motor, language, communication, social interaction, and cognitive ability in order to provide a highly accurate picture of current functioning in young children. Trainees then demonstrate competence administering developmental measures and are closely supervised conducting full-length psychological/developmental assessments with children ages 6 weeks to 6 years of age through LSU Department of Psychiatry Assessment Clinic. Common young child referrals for assessment include differential diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays, post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma reactions, and disruptive and aggressive behaviors. Heavy emphasis is placed on the possible effects of trauma, home environment, cultural perspectives, and parenting throughout the assessment process. Developmental assessments offer both the patient’s family and referring provider with valuable information regarding appropriate diagnoses and concerns in order to guide more specific treatment and referral recommendations (i.e. school accommodations, speech/occupational/physical therapies, medication changes, more specific evaluations).

On-Going Community Engagement

HarrisInfantSmiling

The LSUHSC Harris Infant Mental Health Program has played an important role in raising awareness of the needs of very young children, which has been evidenced by a managed health care provider for Louisiana requested over 3 years of infant mental health and child parent psychotherapy training from the LSUHSC Harris Center across the state in order to be eligible for reimbursement for therapeutic services for children from birth through 6 years.  Further, with changes in funding and managed care companies in the past year, additional and continued training has been requested by more than three agencies which is notable given the significant funding constraints in the state. All providers who deliver these services are reimbursed.

The Infant Mental Health Outreach Team seeks to improve community knowledge and increase awareness on important infant mental health issues. In addition to providing training to community organizations on topics pertaining to infant mental health, the focused outreach team attends community meetings and summits, community baby showers and “mother-to-be” activities, resource and health fairs, and Head Start and school events to provide educational information, consultations to families and professionals, and direct families in need to available mental health resources in their community.

Training Collaborations
In addition to the training offered at LSUHSC through the Harris Center for Infant Mental Health in New Orleans, several faculty play an active role in CPP training throughout the state of Louisiana, across the Gulf Coast, and as national CPP trainers around the country. Infant mental health training has been provided to communities throughout the Gulf Coast through a collaborative effort between Louisiana and Florida with additional funding provided for 5 years for the Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Project which was part of the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program funded as part of Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement, which was approved by the U.S. District Court in New Orleans on January 11, 2013 and became effective on February 12, 2014. For many of these communities, as well as those in rural Louisiana, this training and consultation provided their first exposure to professionals who can help with their questions and needs related to young children.  The team has been able to outreach and provide much needed and appreciated consultation to rural Head Start and pre-K Centers, Kindergarten teachers and school counselors in rural communities, and has been able to reach many immigrants and more isolated populations through work in federally qualified health clinics.  Outreach in community clinics led to the formation of play groups to help isolated families who often have little family support with socialization while encouraging healthy development in their young children. Outreach to community clinics has also resulted in collaboration with pediatricians which has led to cross disciplinary learning and greater problem-solving related to ways to best serve the diverse clients in clinics with increasingly greater needs. This collaboration allows the development of a medical home for families helping the clinic staff meet more needs than just catching up with their child’s immunizations.

HarrisInfantSmiling

Community Parent-Child Groups
Through the LSUHSC Young Child Program established in Federally Qualified Health Clinics LSU clinicians offer monthly bilingual parent-child groups in two primary care clinics and are open to the public. Parents and their young children meet to play in a child-friendly environment to openly discuss the development of their young children. Discussions are conducted in parents’ native language (English, Spanish, and Vietnamese) and any questions and/or concerns are encouraged within the group alongside available LSU infant mental health clinicians. Information dissemination occurs on an as needed basis. Parents commune together, support one another, and exchange failures and successes in child rearing. Available clinicians are often directed questions regarding feeding/weight gain, attachment promotion, infant irritability/fussiness, and possible delays in development. Clinicians are available for follow-up at the clinic and at-risk families who are patients of the clinic are encouraged to attend parent-child groups by their primary care provider for additional support.

HarrisInfantSmiling

Resources
The following handouts have been created by member’s of our Harris Infant Mental Health Team. Resources are created for use by both clinical professionals and parents and/or families.

Recent Publications 

  1. Osofsky, J.D., Osofsky, H.J., Frazer, A., Olivieri, M., Many, M., Selby, M., Holman, S. & Conrad, E. (February-March, 2021). The importance of ACEs in an intervention program during the perinatal period. American Psychologist, 76, 350-363.

  2. Osofsky, J.D. (October 2018) The traumatic effects of child-parent separation and the importance of the relationship. Zero to Three Journal,70-74

  3. Osofsky, J.D. (September 2020). PERSPECTIVES—Supporting Young Children, Families, and Caregivers Related to the COVID-19 PandemicZero to Three Journal.

  4. Osofsky, J.D., Keyes, A.W., Trigg, A.B., Dickson, A. B., & Mamon, L.Y. (December 17, 2020). Telehealth During COVID-19: Advantages, Challenges, and Barriers Across Zero to Three Programs, Zero to Three Journal.

  5. Osofsky, J.D., Goldman Fraser, J., Huffer, A., Huddleston, J., Allen, D., Citrin, A., & Gallion, J. (September, 2021).The Safe Babies Court Team approach: Creating the context for addressing racial inequities in child welfare. Zero to Three Journal.

Recent Books

  1. Osofsky, J.D., Stepka, P., & King, L.C. (2017). Treating Infants and Young Children Impacted by Trauma: Interventions That Promote Healthy Development. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

  2. Osofsky, J.D. & McAlister Groves, B. (Eds) (August, 2018). Violence and Trauma in the Lives of Children: Vol I: Understanding the Impact Vol II: Prevention and Intervention. Praeger Publishers.

  3. Osofsky, J.D., Fitzgerald, H., Keren, M., Puura, K. (Eds) (2021, in preparation). WAIMH Handbook of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Two Volumes, Springer Publishers.

  4. Mulrooney, K., Osofsky, J.D., Keren, M. (2021, in press). DC:0-5 Casebook. Washington, DC.: Zero to Three Press.

Awards
Congratulations to Dr. Joy Osofsky: Recipient of the 2021 Zero to Three Lifetime Achievement Award!

Curriculum
Harris Center for Infant Mental Health 2015-2016 Curriculum
Harris Center for Infant Mental Health 2017-2018 Curriculum