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Staff Spotlight: Annalise, Infant-Parent Therapist

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WCH News
Posted 17 June 2024

This Infant Mental Health Awareness Week we introduce you to Annalise, an Infant-Parent Therapist with our Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS).

Annalise plays a vital role supporting families in the early stages of their baby’s development and working through challenges of postnatal mental health.

Q: What do you do as an Infant-Parent Therapist?

A: I support caregivers on their journey to building a positive, strong, and connected attachment relationship with their infants. I help parents understand their infant's experiences within the context of their own postnatal mental health, family backgrounds, childhood traumas, and current difficulties that may impact on their attachment relationship with their infant.

My goal is to always keep the baby in mind during all interventions, aiming for the best health outcomes and mental wellbeing for infants.

Q: Can you describe a typical day in your role?

A: A typical day sees me visiting 3-4 families' homes, providing tailored interventions that are created in partnership with each family. I will often sit on the floor with the caregiver and infant, and allow space for the caregiver to share their journey, difficulties and hopes, keeping the child in mind, modelling play and highlighting moments of connection between infant and caregiver.

Q: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of working with families?

A: Holding a safe space for caregivers to unpack very difficult and emotional experiences and actively listening to what may not be said requires a lot of energy and can be mentally and emotionally challenging.

However, this is also the most rewarding part. Having the privilege to build strong, trusting professional relationships with caregivers and infants—some of these caregivers may never have experienced this before!

I feel privileged to be welcomed into homes and to be provided the opportunity to support enhanced attachment relationships within families. Each family I work with provides me with hope and reassurance that we are building a better future for our little people.

Q: What is a memorable experience that stands out?

A: There are countless memorable experiences, but what stands out the most is witnessing even the slightest change in the relationship between a caregiver and their infant.

Seeing a caregiver share genuine joy with their infant, especially when they never thought it possible, warms my heart every time.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice for others who are considering a career in supporting infant mental health, what would it be?

A: Do it! It is the most rewarding work - it really is such an important role and supporting infant mental health is so vital to improved health and wellbeing outcomes for our children.

Q: If you could tell families one thing about infant mental health that is important for them to understand, what would that be?

A: That infant mental health is important and that you are the direct link to your child's positive mental health outcomes.

You are not alone, and if you feel that your parenting journey is not what you expected it to be or feel you need further support, reach out - it could change the trajectory of your parenting journey with your child.

Being a parent is the most important thing you can do, but it is also one of the hardest. Be kind to yourself.

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For more information on infant mental health, visit: