Affiliates Corner. The UK AIMH

AIMH UK was founded in 1997 by Dilys Daws who on a long plane journey back from meeting the Australian Sister Organisation (AAIMH) took the first steps in establishing the UK affiliate, which covers England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (see below). In 2012 we have a membership of around 400 individuals from diverse professional backgrounds including parent-infant psychotherapy, child psychiatry, health visiting, midwifery, psychology. We have also given birth to a six UK based sister organisations:


Our regional office in Northern Ireland was launched on November 19th 2009, and is extremely pro-active with a good growth programme in place, and excellent PR recently with representation on Northern Irelands main Radio Station.


Our regional office in the North East of England has developed from 9 members before the AIMH (UK) 2010 Conference, to 61, post conference. We have our most diverse range of member professions within AIMH (NE) including solicitors, high-ranking members of the police force; crisis intervention workers; domestic abuse professionals, and counsellors, amongst many other infant mental health professionals.

AIMH UK (Scotland)

We are in the process of setting up a regional office in Scotland. At the last AIMH (UK) AGM, Committee members were identified to lead on the establishment of AIMH UK (Scotland). Christine Puckering who is leading this group is Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow and member of AIMH (UK’s) Advisory Board is currently helping to run Mellow Parenting’s annual conference ‘Every Baby Matters: Antenatal and postnatal attachment, development and wellbeing’. Christine has been influential with regard to the development of Scottish policy in relation to infant mental health, through authorship of ‘Infant Mental Health: A Guide for Practitioners for Heads Up Scotland’.

AIMH UK (East of England)

An AIMH regional office in the East of England has been developed from the AiMH UK 2011 National conference, which was held in Cambridge. AIMH UK (EoE) branch will be working closely with the active and thriving East of England Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Network.

AIMH UK (Wales)

We have active members in Wales whom we are hoping to encourage to establish a Welsh branch in the next few years.

AIMH UK (South West)

In the South West, Paul Barrows, AIMH (UK) advisor and an ex-chair of AIMH (UK) hosts an annual infancy conference, which provides further opportunities for recruiting members.

The UK Context

The UK is most fortunate in having some seminal thinkers in the field including Peter Fonagy and Colwyn Trevarthan and, indeed, some seminal organisations including the Anna-Freud, Tavistock Centre and the Scottish Institute of Human Relations. Nationally, there is cross-party recognition and consensus about the importance of infant mental health, with the Graham Allen MP Report (2010) Early Intervention: The Next Steps, highlighting the importance of the first two years of life. Andrea Leadsom MP has now established PIP UK which aims to establish jointly funded Parent-Infant Psychotherapy Services across the country, and Frank Field has set up the Foundation Years Action Group. In England we are still in the early stages of developing a National Infant Mental Health Policy, and Scotland have progressed faster.

Extending our work

AIMH (UK) is extending the breadth and depth of our membership through a programme of diverse workshops and conferences and through the redevelopment and redesign of our website.

This year’s annual conference has the theme Mentalisation and Mind-Mindedness: Introducing new ways of working into practice, and keynote international speakers are Arietta Slade and Dana Shai.

AIMH UK members are contributing to the inception of an All Party Parliamentary Groups for Babies (APPGB), whose members will play a key role in shaping future policy. They are also part of other policy groups such as the Early Years Champions.

AIMH members play a significant educational role in terms of the production of books and documentaries for parents including The Essential First Year by Penny Leach, who with colleagues also produced a series of guides to Joyful and Confident Parenting of infants and toddlers, and a wonderful Channel 4 Documentary called ‘Help me to Love my Baby’ involving Amanda Jones. Amanda, went on to develop with the NSPCC a series of five short documentaries entitled ‘Breakdown or Breakthrough’ focusing on how to support parents to provide parenting that will enable their infants to develop a secure attachment relationship. Books for professionals include Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt, Keeping the Baby in Mind: Infant Mental Health in Practice, which is edited by myself and PO Svanberg, and Relational Trauma in Infancy: Psychoanalytic, Attachment and Neuropsychological Contributions to Parent-Infant Psychotherapy edited by Tessa Baradon, and Through the Night: Helping Parents with Sleepless Infants and Reflecting on Reality: Psychotherapists at work in Primary Care co-edited by Dilys Dawes, and Nurturing Natures: Attachment and Children’s Emotional, Sociocultural and Brain Development by Graham Music.

Our clinical workshops have been delivered by a range of national and international specialist presenters with themes directed at diverse audiences. Themes include Complex Safeguarding Cases; Video Interaction Guidance on an International Perspective; working with teenage mothers and their babies; work in neo-natal units and making sense of the symptoms and behaviour of survivors of child abuse who suffer from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and borderline traits.

Added to this, our website, which incorporates membership site software, has been designed and developed specifically to create maximum interest to IMH professionals who can join on-line and gain immediate access to premium website content. We are in the process of updating the website because we recognise the importance of this in attracting both national and international interest and in keeping the website fresh and current.

AIMH (UK) holds good strong relationships with many relevant organisations (including the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Young Mind) as we begin to see a stronger presence and reach using our active Links and Events pages, through the website. In turn all these organisations readily promote our events. We also enjoy close links with the UK Marce society and over the next 4 years will be looking to develop some reciprocally beneficial arrangements including some joint conferences and workshops to boost interest in AIMH (UK).

Articles/reports/papers and conference/workshop presentations are represented on the AIMH UK website Homepage with an enticing ‘teaser’ that is viewable to all, but actual content accessible to members only, through using their own unique password. Our Events Calendar on the Homepage highlights all AIMH UK’s events, month by month.

AIMH (UK)’s website also allows us to continue to build on new initiatives and incentives which currently include Children’s Centre membership (allowing those professionals who normally would not be able to become a member of AIMH (UK) to join, as a unit), student membership (students can join at a lower rate, subject to eligibility) and Corporate Membership for relevant organisations. AIMH UK have set up a ‘Recommended Books’ page, on the website, where Committee Members review relevant and key books for our members.

Our on-line store facility allows us to sell educational DVD’s to members allowing profit to AIMH (UK), and the producers of the DVD. The DVD currently on sale, ‘Early Relationships and Child Development’ showing the lives of four young children in a baby home in Russia, has raised over £2000 for HealthProm and the St Petersburg Early Intervention Institute.


The next two years is a busy period for AIMH UK as we move toward hosting the WAIMH 2014 Congress at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre June 14 – 18th. Our theme – Babies: Their Contribution, Our Responsibility – aims to highlight research emphasizing the reciprocal and co-constructional nature of parent-infant interaction, and we hope to attract some diverse presentations.


Affiliates Corner. The UK AIMH


Barlow, Jane,

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