Working with infants and the early years: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M9F) Florence

Course overview

This course, delivered in Florence, offers a practice-based and theoretical approach to understanding infant and young children’s emotional, social, and cognitive development within a psychodynamic framework.  Your studies are rooted in learning from detailed observation within a psychoanalytic framework.

Course overview

Taught by experienced clinicians with specialist experience working with parents and their infants. This course offers a practice-based and theoretical approach to understanding infant and young children’s emotional, social and cognitive development from a psychodynamic perspective. It aims to develop your observational skills as well as help you gain an increased understanding of the factors which can promote healthy emotional development in babies, infants and pre-school aged children leading to early identification and assessment of difficulties. 

Course outline

Rooted in learning from detailed observation within a psychoanalytic framework. You will study key psychoanalytic concepts and their application to specialist early years’ contexts and learn through infant observation and work discussion. This course will also support workers to develop their observational skills and enhance their practice. In the institutional context professionals will also be supported to explore the challenges and complexities working at the interface between infant and adult mental health to develop an understanding of organisational dynamics and its impact on practice.

Infant observation

You will be required to observe a baby in their family home. Your observations will be presented for discussion in a small weekly seminar group and your experience of observing will be the basis for learning about very early development and relationships.

Work discussion

During these multi-disciplinary seminars with students from a wide range of early years’ settings you will bring detailed studies of your work for discussion. This helps to improve your understanding of developing relationships with the parents, infants and young children you are working with. The group also explores the dynamics at play at institutional and interpersonal levels and the possible emotional meaning of verbal and non-verbal behaviours and communications. A personal tutor will also support your professional and personal development whilst on the course.

This course is currently being run as a One Year Post Graduate Certificate at the Tavistock Centre. We continue to run the PG Dip and Masters version of this course in Belfast, Bristol and Florence. Please enquire for more details. 

This course will develop your skills in baby and young child observation and in applying observation to your perinatal, early years or social care setting to support reflective practice in working with babies, infants and their families. It will develop your understanding of infants’ and young children’s behaviour, play and communication and enhance your skills in work with parents, infants and young children and give you a wider frame of reference for thinking about your work context.

What our students say:

“An invaluable experience for anyone working with infants and young children, providing a unique insight into the emotional development of the infant, in a highly stimulating, intellectually challenging and incredibly rewarding environment."

 "This two year course took me on a journey into the most important years of life, seeing the world through the eyes of an infant… I have become a confident observer, and have achieved so much through this course.”

This course is for early year’s professionals including health visitors, midwives, paediatric and school nurses, nursery and reception heads and teachers, clinical psychologists, child psychiatrists and children centre staff. This course would also be suitable for staff working in perinatal services, mental health professionals and staff working in safeguarding and social care who are interested in deepening their understanding of the emotional experience of babies and infants and parent infant relationships. 

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:

  • have an interest in, and aptitude for, learning about emotional development, observation and psychoanalytic thinking
  • have at least the equivalent of one year's full-time experience of direct work, paid or voluntary, with parents, infants or pre-school age children, or families with young children in a professional setting
  • are currently undertaking direct work with parents, infants or pre-school age children, or families with young children in a professional setting
  • have an undergraduate degree, or to be able to demonstrate that you will be able to meet the academic demands of the course. Please note that we do not insist on a degree, especially if you have extensive experience of work with children under 5 . 

Students are expected to be working in a professional context which enable them to bring appropriate case material for discussion. 

Students are required to submit a paper on each of the modules at the end of the year.

Fees for the academic year 2019/2020 are coming soon.

MA / Master's
Course length:
3 years
Admission status:

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