Infant Observation

The Infant observation program focuses on early child development, primary relationships, primitive anxieties and defenses, and the ways such learning can inform clinical technique with children and adults later in life.


Now Accepting Applications for the 2024-2025 academic year

Apply by July 15, 2024
select Introduction to Infant Observation (year 1) or Advanced Infant Observation (year 2)

Entire program can be done via distance learning (infant observations will be onsite typically in the home of the infant/parent you’re observing)

Taught by IPI faculty, the seminar meets online via secure, Zoom videoconference, linking students internationally and from across the US as they study in-depth these early primary relationships through in-person and audio-visual observation of the mother/baby couple. The seminar draws on the technique of Esther Bick. Mrs. Bick developed infant observation seminars as part of the child psychotherapy training program at the Tavistock Clinic in London in the late 1940’s. Since then, such training has been required in many psychoanalytic and psychotherapy programs around the world.

The Infant Observation Seminar introduces aspects of development of the infant, and importantly, the infant in relation to their mother, other primary caretakers, siblings, and extended family members. This unique in vivo learning experience takes place through the technique of weekly observation of the infant with their mother/father. Learning about development and infants in this way helps us to understand some of the earliest primitive anxieties and defenses that take shape in the infant, and informs our analytic work with child and adult patients.

Program Chair

Karen Sharer-Mohatt, PsyD

Program Date(s):

September 13, 2024 - April 11, 2025

Program Components

The seminar will be held online as a two-way secure, HIPAA-compliant live video conference using the Zoom video conference platform, requiring only a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone with a camera/microphone and internet access.

Seminars will occur approximately two Fridays per month. 

Students will be assigned to either group 1 or group 2 depending on their location/time zone in the world. Please note this may need to be adjusted to accommodate student’s needs.

Group 1 will meet from 10:00am -1:00 p.m. US Eastern Time
Group 2 will meet from 4:00pm – 7:00pm p.m. US Eastern Time.


The first six sessions will be didactic in nature and offer 18 CE credits.  The remaining sessions will require either individual or group supervision of the infant observations  Individual supervision will be $75.00 per hour.  Group supervision will be $32.50 per person per hour.  All students are required to do supervision approximately twice a month.  Students will contract for supervision with approved supervisors.

Students are expected to:

  • Observe an infant and their primary caregiver(s) 1 hour per week, either in-home or via secure audio-visual connection
  • Write-up process notes for each observation 
  • Participate in the small group discussion of infant observation.
  • Write a two-page paper describing the observer’s experience of observing a mother/infant couple, or participating and learning in the group format four times (4x) during the course of the seminar.
  • Participate in 10 hours of individual or group supervision
  • Share process notes in individual or group supervision

**The first six seminars are didactic, and guide the participant in how to find a baby/parent to observe, establish a contract and working alliance with the family, and be exposed to didactic material.


Course Requirements

Participants will need to purchase the book Surviving Space: Papers on Infant Observation (The Tavistock Clinic Series) by Andrew Briggs, Karnac 2002. It may be purchased through Price is dependent upon used or new offers. When accepted into the seminar, we will provide any other assigned readings, forms, the seminar schedule, and other important programmatic information. A requirement of the seminar is that each participant finds a mother/father/infant couple to observe in the home or via audio/visual connection for one hour each week for approximately 8 months.

In order to earn CE credits, participants will need to submit a total of 12 sets of process notes of infant observations which will be presented and discussed during the seminars. (The number of sets of process notes to be submitted may vary due to the availability of the family for observation). Students are also required to submit their process notes password protected to preserve confidentiality. Notes should be submitted to the group and instructor 24 hours prior to the seminar.


The seminars will take place approximately twice a month except around major holidays and IPI training weekends. Each seminar will be three hours in length during which we will discuss assigned readings, and infant/caretaker observations. Once accepted into the seminar and the number of students is determined, participants will receive a syllabus for the entire seminar along with their group assignment.


Introduction to Infant Observation 2024-2025 Meeting dates

Time will be either 10:00-1:00 ET or 4:00-7:00 ET depending on your group assignment

13 Sep
27 Sep
18 Oct
01 Nov
15 Nov
06 Dec
20 Dec
03 Jan
17 Jan
31 Jan
14 Feb
28 Feb
14 Mar
28 Mar
04 Apr
11 Apr

Advanced Infant Observation - optional year 2 or 3

Some students may choose to earn the Infant Observation Certificate. In that case, they will contract with the parent/baby couple to continue the weekly observations through a second year. 

Students who wish to continue into the second year will need to apply to the Advanced Infant Observation program.

Once accepted into the Advanced Infant Observation Program and the number of students is determined, participants will receive a syllabus for the entire seminar along with their group assignment.

A student may want to teach and lead an Infant Observation seminar.  In that case, the student will be required to observe their infant/caregiver over a three year period of time, continuing with didactics and supervision. This third year will be arranged as an individual study with the program chair. 

Educational Objectives

The purpose of this training at IPI is several fold:

  • to observe a baby and a mother develop individually and in relationship to one another
  • to learn by in-home observation or audio/visual connection about the baby’s and mother’s primitive anxieties and defenses as the baby comes to life outside the protective womb
  • to allow oneself, as observer, to better understand the primitive anxieties of our adult and child patients and ourselves in relation to these patients
  •  to develop an analytic way of thinking through the receptive role of taking in affective experience for study
  •  to further process the student/observer’s experience of the observation through writing four two-page papers to share with the seminar group
  •  to identify transference and countertransference dynamics through the experience of the observations.

Introduction to Infant Observation (year 1):

Participants will

  • Provide two (2) examples of adhesive identification or secondary skin formation as described by Esther Bick.
  • Identify two (2) examples of how Bick’s ideas on secondary skin formation and/or adhesive identification may be observed in infant observations.
  • State two (2) factors to consider in choosing the appropriateness of an infant and family for observation.
  • Elucidate two (2) factors to consider in keeping the frame during an infant observation.
  • Name two (2) reasons why keeping the frame in doing an infant observation is important.
  • Provide three (3) examples of countertransference responses to the infant observations presented over the course of the seminar.
  • Provide two (2) examples of transference responses that occur during the infant observations over the course of the seminar
  • Provide one (1) example of how an infant observation influenced the seminar group process (parallel process)
  • Provide two (2) examples of how the use of audio/visual connection vs in-person observations to conduct the infant observations influenced the dynamics of the observations
  • Provide one (1) example of how the ethics of audio/visual connection vs in-person observation are described to each infant/caregiver couple and obtain written permission to conduct the observations in this manner as necessary due to COVID-19.

Advanced Infant Observation (year 2)

Participants will

  • identify two selection criteria for choosing the mother/infant couplet to observe, or identify two criteria for continuing the observation a second year.
  • state two criteria for consideration in setting the initial or continuing contract with the family.
  • present their observation notes and identify their personal countertransference reactions to the infant observation process.
  • identify two examples of transference of mother to observer.
  • identify two examples of countertransference to mother as she is interacting with her baby.
  • identify two examples of transference of mother to baby.
  • identify two examples of how the mother’s attentiveness to her infant shows she is keeping her infant in mind.
  • state two examples of baby’s affective reaction in response to the mother.
  • define the nature of a facilitating environment in the life of the mother/infant couple.
  • identify two examples of struggles in the observer’s attentiveness to the mother/infant couple.
  • identify two examples of infant distress and discrepant affect.
  • identify two examples of disorganized attachment in the infant.
  • define developmental trauma and state its potential impact on the infant.
  • identify two ways emotional damage/deprivation might be observed in an observation.
  • identify two ways the observer might become identified with the infant’s experience in the observation.
  • identify two primitive anxieties they might encounter in the baby.

Continuing Education Credit Hours

Introduction to Infant Observation

  • 18 hours of CE credit for the 6 didactic three-hour sessions.

Advanced Infant Observation

  • 18 hours of CE credit for the 6 didactic three-hour sessions.


Attendance Policy

The IPI is an APA-approved provider (sponsor) of continuing education (CE) credit that specifies standards by which CE credits can be awarded for learning activities. The APA only awards CE credit for actual instructional time, and variable credit for partial attendance may not be awarded. IPI expects 100% attendance for a student to receive CE credit. A student enrolled in Infant Observation would not receive credit  unless the student were to attend all of the classes/sessions. Attendance records are maintained by the faculty at each class. In the very rare instance when a student would have to miss a class, that student would be expected to complete a make-up assignment with specified learning objectives, as part of IPI’s adherence to APA standards for awarding credit.


Prerequisites for admission include

  1. a professional license and good standing in your particular discipline
  2. and to be in your own treatment or to have been in treatment in the past with a psychodynamic/ psychoanalytic therapist or analyst.
  3. completion of at least one year of the IPI Object Relations Theory and Practice (Core) Program or an equivalent program
    • We evaluate equivalency on a case-by-case basis. For comparison purposes, the Object Relations Theory and Practice program (we call it the “Core” for short) consists of:
      • eight 3-day weekend conferences;
      • two 5-day summer institutes
      • 70 hours of intense experiential work in small groups that integrate the affective and theoretical ideas using the Group Affective Model;
      • monthly video seminars;
      • extensive readings.


      Here is a short menu of things that might add up to equivalency:

      • participate in clinical consultation with a member of the IPI faculty or some other psychoanalytically-oriented consulting faculty;
      • attend IPI’s Master Speaker Series, which is all online;
      • participate in an analytically-oriented therapy group;
      • begin or continue reading some of the classic foundational papers in psychoanalysis and find someone to discuss them with;
      • enroll in IPI’s “Psychoanalysis in Everyday Terms” course the next time it is offered. Here is a link to more information:


      The decision about equivalency is made on a case-by-case basis by the Infant Observation program committee. However, if you consider that you have an equivalent background and wish to seek advance feedback, you may contact Karen Sharer-Mohatt, and ask her to evaluate your prior training informally. A decision can then be made about whether you are qualified to apply to the Infant Observation program.

Tuition and Fees

Annual Coursework: $675

Supervision fees (paid directly to your supervisor): 

  • $75.00/hr for individual supervision
  • $37.50/hr for group supervision

Total tuition is a sum of your coursework and supervision fees.

Introduction to Infant Observation (year 1) tuition:

  • With Individual Supervision: $675 coursework + $750 supervision = $1425
  • With Group Supervision: $675 coursework + $375 supervision = $1050

Advanced Infant Observation (year 2) tuition:

  • With Individual Supervision: $675 coursework + $750 supervision = $1425
  • With Group Supervision: $675 coursework + $375 supervision = $1050

Certificate Program completion requires both year 1 and year 2.



Applications are due by July 15th

To apply, complete the online application

and submit the following supporting documents:

  • Resume or C.V.
  • copy of Degree
  • copy of Clinical Licenses
  • copy of Malpractice Insurance
  • 2 letters of recommendation from supervisors, senior colleagues familiar with your work

You will receive a link to upload your documents after submitting your application.

Membership Benefits

Certificate Program students receive Associate membership in the IPI as part of their coursework fees.

Students can add on an optional licensed Zoom account through the IPI for an additional $150 per year.
HIPAA compliant Zoom accounts are an optional add on for all IPI Members. IPI has a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with Zoom, which provides a HIPAA compliant platform for our accounts. HIPPA compliance is strongly recommended for all internet-mediated clinical work and clinical teaching. 
Click for IPI Membership and Zoom Account information

Should you have any questions about the program or the application process, please feel free to contact:

Karen Sharer-Mohatt, PsyD -

Continuing Education Information

The International Psychotherapy Institute, IPI, is approved by The American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. IPI maintains responsibility for the program and its content. The International Psychotherapy Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6017. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The International Psychotherapy Institute is responsible for all aspects of the programs. The International Psychotherapy Institute is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education learning activities and maintains full responsibility for this program. This training qualifies for Category I continuing education units. The International Psychotherapy Institute is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0299.
Participants are responsible for verifying that IPI CE credit is accepted by the licensing boards in their own states.