Infant Observation Certificate Program

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Infant Observation Seminar and Certificate Program

Chair: Karen Sharer-Mohatt, PsyD

IPI offers a seminar in infant observation taught by IPI faculty, which meets by conference call, linking students across the United States and Central America.  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. 

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


To apply to this program, please complete one of theapplication forms. Then submit completed document along with a copy of your current license to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PDF application

Web based application

Course Goals and 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) facotrs 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).

Educational 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.


The pre-requisite for the seminar is at least one year of the IPI Core Program or equivalent.