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What is infant and early childhood mental health?

Our certificate students will receive their training in accordance with the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health competencies. Zero to Three defines Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health as, “the developing capacity of the child from birth to 5 years old to form close and secure adult and peer relationships; experience, manage, and express a full range of emotions; and explore the environment and learn—all in the context of family, community, and culture. Experts from a range of disciplines consider IECMH to be the foundation of healthy, lifelong development. IECMH is also a term used to describe the full continuum of services and supports (i.e., promotion, prevention, and treatment) necessary to promote healthy development, prevent mental health problems, and treat mental health disorders.” (Zero To Three, 2017).

How can I obtain a certificate in infant and early childhood mental health at the University of Utah?

Our certificate program takes 2 years to complete. Trainees will take 8 courses for a total of 24 credits. Two, year-long courses specific to certificate trainees are required. In the first year, trainees will complete a core infant and early childhood mental health course which will allow students to discuss issues related to practicum placement and didactics to fulfill the early childhood mental health credential so that students could become employed in the early intervention field upon receiving the certificate.

The second, year-long course is a capstone course. Students will gain practical experience “in the field” to hone their observation skills.

In addition to these two core courses, students will complete courses in each of 7 different components. Degree requirements of the Family and Consumer Studies and Psychology departments in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will be partially met for this certificate. These seven components are:

  • Foundations in infant and early childhood mental health
  • Development and psychopathology in infancy and early childhood
  • Caregiver-infant observation
  • Education, prevention, and intervention in infancy and early childhood
  • Children and relationships across cultures
  • Communication
  • Capstone project/Field Experience

Please see the certificate requirements page for detailed information about these requirements.

To apply to the certificate, please visit the application page.

What can I do with a certificate in infant and early childhood mental health?

A key component of this certificate is practical training with our community partners so that, upon graduation, you will be a competitive candidate for a number of positions. These positions include early intervention specialists, early childhood mental health consultants, child life specialists, behavioral support specialists, home visitors, and day care and preschool educators. Some of these positions, such as preschool educators or special education teachers, will require additional training. However, we expect you will be quite competitive for these educational programs given the strong background you will have in the field of infant and early childhood mental health.

Last Updated: 3/31/21