My bags are packed and I'm ready to go on my travels, sponsored by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT).
This is my first ever blog (yeahh...thanks Karen for challenging me to do it) and I invite you to accompany me on my travels. I will sum up each section in a sentence or two (with a picture if I have one) if you don't want to plough through the blurb. I'm assuming that not everyone has time to read the details.
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust
The WCMT travel fellowship scheme was etablished when Sir Winston Churchill died in 1965 as a living memorial to him that could benefit generations of British people. It's a way of carrying forward his legacy by funding British citizens from all backgrounds to travel overseas in pursuit of new and better ways of tackling a wide range of the current challenges facing the UK. Successful applicants are known as Churchill Fellows for life. No qualifications are required, just a project and the desire and motivation to improve their community, profession or field. Each year more than 100 Fellowships are awarded for a wide range of projects. My project falls within the category of Early Intervention and Prevention. Why not visit the WCMT website at http://www.wcmt.org.uk/ to find out how you can apply for a travel fellowship.
Learing from best practice in parent infant psychotherapy
The category of early intervention and prevention is aimed at professionals who are involved in policy and delivering programmes that give children aged zero to three years the social and emotional bedrock they need to reach their full potential? I will be visiting Scandinavia and the USA to observe what works and to bring back the learning to my UK network.
Why this Category?
As a parent infant psychotherapist my work involves giving the best start to mothers and babies who are having difficulty bonding and developing a relationship. This difficulty could arise from the parent's own experience of being parented or due to developmental difficulties.
The aim of parent-infant psychotherapy is ‘to understand and facilitate normal communication and the development of emotions and relationships’ (Acquarone, 2004: pg.20). In the first two years of life when the brain is being developed, it is possible to see rapid change in the relationship between parent and infant. That is why early intervention makes sense.
Where am I Going & why?
Sweden and Norway
The Scandinavian countries are known for excellent outcomes with regard to child care and infant mental health. I will be visiting organizations in Sweden and Norway to observe their approach; universities and learning institutions to learn how they structure their teaching programmes; meeting individual professionals who are pioneers in their field, to be inspired and to bring the learning back to my network in the UK.
The USA - Michigan, Detroit, California
Michigan is the birthplace of parent infant psychotherapy and presents a contrasting picture to that of Scandinavia, where the structure of the health care system is highly integrated and well funded. The USA depends on individual projects and funding is not always easy to find. Evidence is key in order to convince funders, so I will be keen to which projects have survived the competition and why.
I will focus on the projects in Michigan and spend time at the three main universities there to learn about how they train parent infant psychotherapists. I have been invited to speak at the Michigan Association of Infant Mental Health in May and I will also be spending about two weeks in California with Alicia Lieberman learning from her renowned trauma project.
To my work colleagues at Croydon Best Start Parent Infant Partnership; West London Action for Children and the School of Infant Mental Health for holding the fort while I'm away and to my family (especially my husband, who is coming with me to share the adventure) for their support.
Well, that's enough for today. I will continue with my adventures next time.