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 | Head Start Consultation | Community Parent-Child Groups | Resources | Curriculum

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Overview
Over a decade 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, 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.

 

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During the infant mental health training, clinicians learn how to complete infant evaluations and provide treatment for young children 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 4) 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. All trainees are taught about 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.

Faculty
The Harris Center for Infant Mental Health Faculty include:

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

Co-Directors:
Kristin Callahan, Ph.D.
(504) 301-8669
kcall1@lsuhsc.edu

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

Faculty:
Amy Alvarez, LCSW
Chikira Barker, M.A
Kristin Callahan, Ph.D.
Carrie Cassimere, MSW
Richard Costa, Psy.D.
Sharon Crane, LOTR, BCP
Amy Dickson, Psy.D.
Martin Drell, M.D.
Patrick Drennan, MD
Erin Dugan, Ph.D.
Sharon Gancarz-Davies, LCSW
Amy Henke, Ph.D.
Barbara LeBlanc, LCSW
Stacie LeBlanc, J.D., M.Ed.
Marva Lewis, Ph.D.
Michele Many, LCSW
Christy Mumphrey, MD
Kathy Robison, Ph.D.
Phillip Stepka, Psy.D
 

Orleans Parish 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 three parishes on the North Shore.  As of June 30, 2019, the Infant Team had worked with 280 families with children in foster care.  This equates to 430 children referred, with 384 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 the children have not returned to custody.  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

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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

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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 the Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Project which is 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 provides 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 immigrant and more isolated populations through work in federally qualified health clinics.  Outreach in community clinics has 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.

Head Start Consultation

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As part of the partnership between Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) and Lafourche Parish Head Start, licensed clinicians from LSUHSC are currently consulting in all Lafourche Parish Head Start Centers for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. LSUHSC clinicians are routinely on-site at a Head Start on a weekly basis. During each visit, consultants observe classrooms and consult with center teachers, administrators, and participant parents to discuss a wide variety of issues. These issues include, but are not limited to: student mental health or developmental concerns, parenting education and guidance, and classroom management and organization. LSU clinicians also provide trainings at quarterly staff meetings that include, but are not limited to: how to identify and accommodate Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental delays, difficult classroom behaviors, interfacing with parents of students, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), loss and grief in early childhood, and using positive behavior strategies in the classroom. LSU Clinicians also utilize “reflective supervision” within training sessions to empower Lafourche Parish Head Start teachers and administrators to feel more confident in their ability to manage difficult child/parent situations without the presence of a licensed clinician. The reflective supervision is a widely accepted and utilized model within young child programs to develop the context for learning and professional development. Teachers and administrators alike are encouraged to discuss difficult cases, interactions and child presentations in order to learn from each other and build capacity. The core components of reflective supervision that lead to its success are reflection, collaboration, and regularity. As a result of this outreach effort, Lafourche Parish Head Start has asked LSUHSC clinicians to partner with local pediatricians and mental health clinicians to form a “Mental Health Head Start Collaborative” in order to collaborate on issues of infant mental health in Lafourche parish.

Community Parent-Child Groups

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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.

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.

  • All About Feelings Fun Book
  • Aggression in Young Children
  • Biting in Young Children
  • Helping Young Children Listen
  • Hurricane Activities for Children
  • New Baby Sibling
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Talking About Death
  • When to Refer Young Children

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