Irving Harris Program in Child Development and Infant Mental Health

Infants enjoying a meal

The Irving Harris Program in Child Development and Infant Mental Health provides clinical training, consultation, advocacy, and research in infant and early childhood mental health.  Postdoctoral and community fellowships are offered to qualified professionals seeking advanced training in infant and early childhood mental health.  Program faculty provide supervision, consultation, and training to academic programs and community agencies in Colorado as well as across the nation.

Fellowships in Advanced Clinical Infant Mental Health Training

The Irving Harris Program in Child Development and Infant Mental Health trains postdoctoral psychology fellows and community professionals with advanced clinical skills in infancy and early childhood mental health.  The year-long clinical fellowship focuses on training in clinical, research and systems factors related to infancy and early childhood.  The training involves clinical placements, didactics, reflective supervision, and professional development.  The didactics cover content on development, attachment theory, treatment approaches, diagnostic classifications, diagnoses, perinatal mental health, cultural competence, and socio-cultural influences.  The clinical settings included traditional outpatient services, consultation in pediatric primary care and other medical clinics, early care and education centers, and home-based services (some being bilingual) within UC-AMC programs and community agencies. 

Program Founder

The Harris Program began in 1996 under the directorship of Robert J. Harmon, MD (in memoriam, 1946-2006), an infant and child psychiatrist and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and with the funding support from The Irving Harris Foundation.

Dr. Harmon was a graduate of the University of Colorado School of Medicine (UCSOM) where he also received his post-graduate training in General and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. After spending three years at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, MD, Dr. Harmon returned to Colorado, joining the faculty of the School of Medicine in 1978 as an Assistant Professor and later becoming Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics in 1992. Below are some of his many appointments/recognitions during his accomplished career:

  • Founder and Director of the Irving Harris Program in Child Development and Infant Mental Health (1996-2006)
  • Medical Director of the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR) at the University of Colorado Hospital/University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
  • Psychiatric Director of the Women’s and Children’s Residential Services at The Haven, a therapeutic community for women where he implemented a community-based Doula Program
  • Board member of Zero to Three/National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families
  • Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA)
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and served as Chair of the AACAP Program Committee for the 2005-2008 Annual Meetings
  • Deputy Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
  • The Kempe Children’s Foundation Professional Honoree for contributions to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect in April 2003
  • Received the Simon Wile Leadership in Consultation Award from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in recognition of his outstanding leadership and contributions in the field of liaison child and adolescent psychiatry in October 2003
  • Authored of more than 150 publications on infant psychiatry, infant and family development, and the effects of the death of an infant on the family
  • Dr. Harmon was certified in General, Child and Adolescent, and Addiction Psychiatry.

Our Philosophy & Goals

  • Based on strong belief that there is an important role for highly trained infant mental health specialists to provide services to programs that serve infants, toddlers, and their families
  • Intended for advanced practitioners in mental health and related early childhood fields
  • Key components: assessment, differential diagnosis, intervention, and academic scholarship
  • Includes intensive clinical experience with infants and young children, extensive didactic seminars on core issues of infant mental health, and clinical supervision in groups and individually
  • Train professionals who teach and consult to infant programs and their staff as well as conduct direct intervention
  • Expected to work in academic and training settings, teach, supervise, consult, and pursue clinical research
  • Taught through didactic seminars, group supervision of clinical cases, and “hands on” experience conducting assessments
  • Includes exposure to standardized infant and parent-infant assessment tools, discussing observations of infants and their families, and viewing videotapes of sessions with infants
  • Use a family-centered and family-strengths perspective as well as understand the difficulties, challenges, and disorders that afflict infants and their families diagnostically
  • Use DC:0-3R to assess all areas of functioning (e.g., emotional, developmental, biologic, temperamental, and interactional capabilities) for a thorough evaluation of the child and family
  • In-depth training on the numerous problems seen in infancy through didactic seminars, presentations by visiting experts, and clinical group supervision
  • Focus on what is known about the cause and phenomenology of disorders, what assessment tools and pathognomonoic signs can help identify a disorder, and what is known about the natural history and treatment experiences of infants with various problems
  • Actively involved in planning and evaluating seminar curricula
  • Expected to become critical consumers of clinical and developmental research, and the research information is integrated and applied to interventions and philosophical thinking about infants and infant mental health
  • Opportunities also available to pursue clinical research training

The seminars cover a variety of topics, including normal infant and early childhood development, temperament, normal pregnancy and pregnancy loss, high-risk infants and parents, developmental psychopathology (including attachment disorders, failure to thrive, and behavior problems), the impact of child abuse and neglect, developmentally appropriate assessment, diagnosis and treatment of infants and toddlers, the treatment of infant-parent psychopathology, and mental health consultation in early childhood settings.

Survey of Infant and Early Childhood Assessment

A 4-week training that provides a background on developmental assessment, how to approach the consultative process, and training on the Mullen Scales of Early Development with ongoing supervision.

Clinical Case Conference

Weekly supervision attended by Harris fellows to share clinical experiences from their primary training sites as well as to present and discuss difficult cases with faculty supervision.

Perinatal Seminar

Focuses on bonding, attachment, high-risk perinatal status, developmental care, pregnancy loss, and consultation to the NICU.

Core Reading Seminar

​Provides an overview of child development, diagnosis and disorders, and clinical treatment issues in the first 5 years of life.

Mental Health Consultation and Supervision in Early Childhood Seminar

Provides an introduction to the concepts of mental health consultation for early childhood settings (i.e., childcare, primary care, developmental early intervention programs and early childhood education settings). Includes training and readings on reflective supervision.

Survey of Dyadic Assessment and Treatment Tools

​Provides information on different assessment and intervention techniques to use with parents of young children. 

Diagnostic Case Review

Discussion of clinical cases from trainees’ clinical sites, focusing on diagnostic and treatment issues and using the Diagnostic Classification system (DC: 0-5) to develop diagnostic formulations.

Infant Mental Health Topics

​Provides more in-depth information on certain infant mental health topics that were briefly covered in the other seminars and exposes fellows to local resources that offer specialized services to parents and young children.

Diversity-Informed Practice in Infant Mental Health

Topics include religious diversity, LGBT families, poverty, discrimination, babies with special health care needs, fatherhood, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and  transcultural issues with attachment, childbirth, feeding, sleeping, and crying.  

Training Committee

​Monthly meetings between Harris Program directors and fellows to discuss various issues related to the training program and the fellows' experiences.

Contact Us

Stacey L'Hommedieu

Program Manager

13001 E. 17th Place

Building 500, Level 4

Aurora, CO 80045

Phone: (303)724-9758

Email: Stacey L'Hommedieu