Infant Observation

Infant observation program focusing on development, early relationships, anxieties, defenses and implications for child & adult psychotherapy. Meets online via video conference.

IPI offers a seminar in infant observation taught by IPI faculty, which meets online via Zoom videoconference, linking students from across the United States and internationally. The seminar draws on the technique of Esther Bick and the IPI Group Affective Model (GAM) for study and learning.  Esther 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.

We offer a 22-week seminar introducing aspects of development of the person, which is about the infant, and especially the infant in relation to his/her mother, other primary caretakers, siblings, and extended family members. This unique in vivo learning experience takes place through Infant Observation. Learning about development and infants helps us to understand some of the earliest anxieties and defenses, and informs our work with child and adult patients.

This seminar will meet by Zoom audio-visual HIPAA compliant internet platform 2-3 Fridays per month from 11:00am-1:00pm EST.

Program Date(s):

October 19, 2018

Program Components

The seminar meets by Conference Call two to three times per month for a total of 22 two-hour sessions

To receive the Certificate, students will complete two years of Infant Observation seminars.

Students are expected to:

  • directly observe an infant and its caregivers 1 hour per week*
  • write up process notes for each observation
  • participate in the small group discussion
  • participate in the group affective model groups

*The first seminars are spent in guiding the student as to how to find a baby and family to observe and how to establish a contract and working alliance with the family.


Seminar meets for two hours for 22 weeks (approximately two weeks per month), October 19, 2018 – August 16, 2019.

The first seminars are spent in guiding the student in finding a baby and family to observe and establishing a contract and working alliance with the family.

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 on Price is dependent upon used or new offers.) If accepted into the seminar, we will provide other forms you will need, the seminar schedule, other important programmatic information, and other assigned readings for the seminars. A requirement of this seminar is that each participant finds a mother or father/infant couple to observe in the home for one hour a week.

In order to earn CE credits, participants will need to submit a total of 15 sets of process notes of infant observations which will be presented and discussed during the seminars.

To receive the Certificate, students will complete two years of Infant Observation seminars.

Students are expected to:

  • directly observe an infant and their caregivers 1 hour per week
  • write up process notes for each observation
  • participate in the 22 seminar meetings and discussion

Educational Objectives

The purpose of this training at IPI is several fold:

  • to watch a baby and a mother develop individually and in relationship to one another
  • to learn by direct observation 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
  • and finally to develop an analytic way of thinking by being in the receptive role of taking in affective experience for study

To attain these goals, the student 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 one (1) example of how an infant observation influenced the seminar group process (parallel process).

Continuing Education Credit

The seminar provides 44 hours of CE credit for the 22 two-hour sessions.


Prerequisites for admission include completion of at least one year of the IPI Core Program or an equivalent program, a professional license and good standing in your particular discipline, and to be in your own treatment or to have been in treatment in the past with a psychodynamic/ psychoanalytic therapist or analyst.


To apply, complete the online application before October 5, 2018.

Tuition and Fees

$1,290 for 22 two-hour sessions.

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 an approved sponsor of the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners for continuing education credits for licensed social workers in Maryland. 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.

Participants are responsible for verifying that IPI CE credit is accepted by the licensing boards in their own states. Please note: At this time we are aware that CE credit for IPI events will not be accepted by the New Jersey Board of Social Work.

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Program Chair

Karen Sharer-Mohatt, PsyD

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