News from the WAIMH Central Office: The 14th World Congress was a Success

Picture of Edinburgh Hall

Even though the 14th WC just ended, the preparations for the next WC are under way. The congress location is still under consideration because of the crisis in Middle-East. The site will be announced by the end of the year.

The 14th World Congress of the Association was a remarkable success with 1682 attendees from 55 countries! The five day programme offered delegates the choice of over 1000 oral presentations, workshops, poster discussions and masterclasses and was described by one delegate as a “wonderfully rich experience of new content, new ideas and new ways of thinking.”

Most congress participants rated the programme as excellent, whereas more than half felt that the number of sessions were too many. Since 45% said that the amount of sessions was about right, we are happy with the result. The participants also thanked the overall organization of the event, the registration and facilities, but critiqued a lack of time for reflection and discussions. Some of the lecture rooms were over-crowded and people were even turned away.

WAIMH offered five important awards, as usually, in biennial world congresses to important persons in the field of Infant Mental Health. We want to congratulate the new Award winners!

“We were extremely pleased with the conference in Edinburgh and had the sense that WAIMH has come of age.  The extraordinary turnout of 1600 delegates was just one indicator that the WAIMH of the 21st century is markedly different than the one that formed in 1992.  Young vibrant and fully committed investigators were everywhere.  Poster sessions were packed, the integration of experienced and aging investigators with the forthcoming generation was just exciting and hopeful.  Nearly 1500 of the 1700 delegates came from outside the UK, and their diversity appeared to be greater than I remember from the past.”

Honorary President of WAIMH, Hiram Fitzgerald

The New Investigator Award

The New Investigator Award recognizes scholars in the interdisciplinary field of infant mental health who are within the first eight years after earning their university degree. This year, the New Investigator Award acknowledged Sheri Madigan from Toronto, Canada. She has established an exceptional record of scientific work focused on maternal-infant and maternal-child relationships linked to disorganized attachment experienced during infancy since earning her doctoral degree.

Recipient of New Investigator Award Sheri Madigan and Miri Keren at the WAIMH 14th World Congress. Photo by Simon Williams.

The WAIMH award

The WAIMH award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the World Association for Infant Mental Health, either directly or through one of the WAIMH Affiliate Associations. This year, the WAIMH Award acknowledges two remarkable members: – Ms. Beulah Warren of Australia and Dr. Hisako Watanabe of Japan- in celebration of their extraordinary work with and on behalf of infants and their families. Ms Beulah Warren has been a driving force for the infant mental health community through her continuing training and affiliate activity across Australia for over 25 years. Dr Hisako Watanabe is a professor from Keio University and Keio University Hospital, a leading pioneer of infant mental health in Asia and one of the founding directors of WAIMH.

Recipients of the WAIMH Award Hisako Watanabe and Beulah Warren with Executive Director Palvi Kaukonen at the WAIMH 14th World Congress. Photo by Simon Williams.

The Sonya Bemporad Award

The Sonya Bemporad Award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the advancement of social and public policies that contribute to the mental health and overall benefit of infants, toddlers, and their families. This year the award is given jointly to Dr Natalia Trenchi and Dr. Miguel Cherro Aguerre from Uruguay. Natalia Trenchi’s creative contributions in the public domain have included her newspaper columns, radio and regular television shows, books and presentations for schools as well as for community organizations—all bringing advice on parenting and healthy development in the early years. Miguel Cherro Aguerre, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, is especially recognized for his leadership and good will as well as his clinical wisdom and ability to educate a wide range of people to better the lives of infants, young children and their families in Uruguay.

Recipient of the Sonya Bemporad Award Miguel Cherro Aguerre and Chair of Programme Committee Mark Tomlinson. Photo by Simon Williams.
Recipient of the Sonya Bemporad Award Natalia Trenchi and Chair of
Programme Committee Mark Tomlinson. Photo by Simon Williams.

The Serge Lebovici Award

The Serge Lebovici Award is given in recognition of significant contributions to the international field of infant mental health. This year, this award is presented to Professor Heidelise Als from Boston MA, USA. Heidelise, like Serge Lebovici himself who studied the development of early parent-infant relationships, has devoted her life to the study of the behavioral organization of preterm and highrisk infants. Her work has been extraordinary.

Recipient of the Serge Lebovici Award Heidelise Als and Associate Executive Director Kaija Puura. Photo by Simon Williams.

The Réne Spitz Award

The 2014 Réne Spitz Award is given in notable recognition of an individual’s significant lifetime contributions to clinical and experimental research in the natural science of human psychobiological development that underpins infant mental health practice and understanding. The WAIMH board and members honor Professor Colwyn Trevarthen with this prestigious award. In over 40 years of infant research he has maintained a consistently high calibre of investigation, spanning not only the basic sciences of neurology, psychology, and biology, but also semiotics, psychoanalysis, music therapy, musicology, and phenomenology, all of which contribute to understanding intersubjectivity as an embodied and affective phenomenon.

As you can see in this issue of the Perspectives, we experienced joyful moments at the World Congress. We will e-mail all congress participants a link to the Photo gallery of the event.

In Finland we are passing from a relaxing summer into an autumn of inspiring new tasks. The world situation has changed since last spring, and we think that the voice for infants rights is even more important than ever.

Recipient of the Réne Spitz Award Colwyn Trevarthen and Miri Keren. Photo by Simon Williams.


News from the WAIMH Central Office: The 14th World Congress was a Success


Kaukonen, Pälvi,
Executive Director,,
Puura, Kaija,
Associate Executive Director,,
Sorsa, Minna,
Administrative Assistant,,
Tampere, Finland

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