Frequently asked questions

List of FAQ. Please scroll down for the answers.

  1. Why did AAIMH WA decide to adapt the Michigan IMH Competency Framework® for the Western Australian context?
  2. How did AAIMH WA adapt the MI-AIMH Competency Framework®?
  3. What is the connection between the AAIMH Competency Guidelines® and the AAIMH WA Endorsement® system?
  4. Why apply for AAIMHI WA Endorsement®?
  5. If I already have a licence or certificate, why would I need this additional Endorsement?
  6. Who is able to apply?
  7. Can years of experience be substituted for educational degree requirements?
  8. What do I do to get started?


Portfolio Development Questions

  1. I have attended well over 30 hours of in-service trainings but I’m not sure if all of it will be accepted. Should I submit a list of every in-service training I’ve ever attended?
  2. How far back can I go when including trainings that meet criteria for Endorsement®?
  3. How many infants or young children do I need to work with to meet the specialised work criteria?
  4. I have a Master’s degree, so should I start at the Infant Mental Health Practitioner (IMHP) category?
  5. Is there a difference between the specialised work experiences that meet criteria for Infant Family Practitioner (IFP) versus Infant Mental Health Practitioner (IMHP)


Reflective Supervision

  1. What is Reflective Practice?
  2. What are the requirements for Reflective Supervision/Consultation (RS/C) at each Endorsement® Category?
  3. Can co-workers provide the hours of reflective supervision I need?


Endorsement® Exam

  1. What is the format of the exam for the Infant Mental Health Practitioners and Infant Mental Health Mentors? (no exam is needed for Infant Family Workers/Practitioners)
  2. What primary topics are covered in the multiple-choice portion of the test?


Scroll down for the answers


1. Why did AAIMH WA decide to adapt the Michigan IMH Competency Framework® for the Western Australian context?

A key focus of AAIMH WA is to build both capability and capacity in the Western Australian Infant Mental Health (IMH) workforce. For two decades AAIMH WA has offered training and networking opportunities to a diverse range of professionals in order to enhance knowledge and skills related to IMH principles and practice.

In 2013, AAIMH WA collaborated with the Western Australian Mental Health Commission on the ‘Building the Mental Health of Infants and Young People: Workforce Competency Based Training Project’. This project was an innovative response to the growing awareness in the professional community of the need to up-skill people from a range of professions who are working with infants (pre-birth to 36 months) and their families.

A key finding from the project was that Western Australia (WA) has a dedicated workforce that is:

  • open to change, and
  • aware of the need to develop best practice guidelines for working with infants (pre-birth to 36 months)  and their families.

This finding supports AAIMH WA’s focus on workforce development and the need to adopt a set of competency guidelines that are internationally recognised as the gold standard in IMH.

The IMH Competency Framework® developed by the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) over many years was identified and widely recognised as the best framework in the IMH field. The MI-AIMH Competency Guidelines for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® outline core knowledge, skills and abilities for the diverse workforce working with infants and young children (pre-birth to 36 months).

They outline 8 areas of competency:

  • Theoretical foundations
  • Law, Regulations and Agency Policy
  • Systems Expertise
  • Direct Service Skills
  • Working with others
  • Communicating
  • Thinking
  • Reflection.

The overarching principle of the guidelines is that all development occurs within the context of relationships. They are linked to a system of Endorsement, aimed at recognising and credentialing the skills, knowledge and experience of practitioners in IMH.

In 2014, AAIMH WA purchased a licence from MI-AIMH to adapt the MI-AIMH Competency Guidelines® for the Western Australian context. It was the first World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) affiliate outside the US to have a licensing agreement with MI-AIMH to adapt and use their IMH Competency Guidelines®.

2. How did AAIMH WA adapt the MI-AIMH Competency Framework®?

A Competency Guidelines Working Group (CGWG) of professionals with an interest or focus on perinatal and IMH was formed in October 2014. The professionals were from a range of disciplines across a number of agencies, working in metropolitan and rural regions of WA. This group collaborated closely with MI-AIMH to conduct a detailed review of the guidelines and make changes ensure cultural compatibility with the Western Australian context.

The AAIMHI WA Competency Guidelines® were launched in March 2015.

3. What is the connection between the AAIMH Competency Guidelines® and the AAIMH WA Endorsement® system?

The AAIMH Competency Guidelines® form the foundation for the competency-based framework which includes Endorsement and provides:

  • direction for building knowledge, skills and reflective capacity in IMH which is grounded in theory and best practice guidelines
  • a framework for developing systematic training in IMH in WA
  • a system for maintaining increased competency in IMH workforce
  • quality assurance for families and employers
  • a cohesive model of workforce development to promote IMH which can be delivered across service and disciplines at universal, promotion, prevention and intervention levels.

To gain a thorough understanding of the MI-AIMH Endorsement® system, nine members of the Competency Guidelines Working Group (CGWG) applied for Endorsement through MI-AIMH in their respective categories. This included registering for Endorsement and submitting a comprehensive professional portfolio.

With funding support from the WA Mental Health Commission, CGWG member participated in over 30 hours of group reflective supervision with renowned reflective supervision consultant Beulah Warren, Registered Psychologist, foundation member of AAIMH and past Vice President of AAIMH NSW.

Criteria for Endorsement include committing to group based reflective supervision in IMH, participating in competency-informed trainings and working with infants (pre-birth to 36 months) and their families using a relationship based IMH model of practice and/or working in policy, program administration or research in the IMH field.

Those who applied in the categories of Infant Mental Health Practitioner and Infant Mental Health Mentor were then invited to sit an exam including multiple choice questions and an essay. All CGWG applicants were successful in obtaining the MI-AIMH Endorsement®.

In 2016, AAIMH WA acquired the licence for the MI-AIMH Endorsement® system. The CGWG became the Competency Guidelines and Endorsement Working Group (CGEWG) and started work on adapting and implementing the system for use in Western Australia, in collaboration with the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health in the Detroit, Michigan.

AAIMH WA is the first infant mental health organisation outside the United States of America to have a licensing agreement to use the MI-AIMH Competency Guidelines®. In close collaboration with MI-AIMH, AAIMH WA has engaged in a detailed review of the Competency Guidelines® and made minor changes to ensure cultural compatibility.

AAIMH WA specifically acknowledges the particular importance that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people have in our society. Work will continue in collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities and in consultation with elders to make these competencies meaningful and relevant for infants and (pre-birth to 36 months) and their families in these communities.

4. Why apply for AAIMHI WA Endorsement®?

The ‘Building the Mental Health of Infants and Young People: Workforce Competency Based Training Project’. Highlighted the need to up-skill people from a range of professions who are working in the IMH field.

For Western Australian infants and their families to thrive, we need well trained professionals who have the knowledge, skills and supervised work experience to promote healthy social and emotional development, and to intervene and treat early childhood mental health problems.

By engaging in the AAIMH WA Endorsement® system, you will:

  • grow and develop as a professional in the rapidly expanding infant and family service field
  • be recognised by employers and peers for having attained a category of competency in culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice that promotes IMH
  • become a part of one of the first and most comprehensive international efforts to identify best practice competencies at multiple levels and across disciplines and to offer a pathway for professional development in the infant and family field.

5. If I already have a licence or certificate, why would I need this additional endorsement?

AAIMH WA Endorsement® credentials and recognises a set of competencies for professional development in the infant and family field. It assures that persons providing services promoting and supporting infant mental health meet rigorous, evidence-based standards that are approved by a widely recognised professional organisation in the discipline of infant mental health.

Endorsement recognises the importance of continuing education and training for professionals in the infant and family field. By earning the AAIMH WA Endorsement® you demonstrate your commitment to this principle as you provide services that promote infant mental health with a high level of quality and integrity.

It is a process that supports the development and recognition of infant and family professionals within an organised system of culturally sensitive, relationship-based learning and work experiences that promote infant mental health.

6. Who is able to apply?

Any professional who:

  • resides in Western Australia
  • has training and experience working with or on behalf of infants and young children (0 to 36 months), in the context of their relationship with their parents and/or other caregivers, and
  • who meets the educational, training, and reflective supervision requirements for their chosen category, as specified in the AAIMH Competency Guidelines®
  • is a member of AAIMH.

7. Can years of experience be substituted for educational degree requirements?

No. The four categories of Endorsement® include a full range of relevant requirements from non-degreed to post-Masters degreed professionals. Professionals at each of these categories provide equally valuable contributions to the well-being of Western Australia’s infants, young children and their families.

You should apply at the category for which you meet all requirements and have attained the specified level of education. Go to 'Categories of Endorsement' for detailed information.

8. What do I do to get started?

Read more about Endorsement® online by going to 'AAIMH WA Competency Guidelines and Endorsement®'. Carefully look over the endorsement requirements to see where your work experience, education, specialised training and reflective supervision/consultation experiences fit best. Review the Competency Guidelines® and the Getting Started Guide(s) so that you can spend the next several months obtaining the necessary training and reflective supervision while waiting for the Endorsement® process to begin.

Begin to prepare your portfolio materials. It takes a while to gather your in-service training and supervisory experiences. This reflects your capabilities within the infant and family field as identified for each category of Endorsement®. You will be asked to list the names and email addresses for three individuals who will complete reference forms on your behalf. Match your competencies to those listed in the AAIMH Competency Guidelines® and document their source.

Portfolio Development Questions

Specialised In-Service Training

1. I have attended well over 30 hours of in-service trainings but I’m not sure if all of it will be accepted. Should I submit a list of every in-service training I’ve ever attended?

All in-service training hours that meet criteria toward Endorsement® must be related to the AAIMH Competency Guidelines®. Be sure to list which specific knowledge or skill area is covered at each training, e.g., attachment, separation and loss; cultural competence. For a training to count toward Endorsement®, at least one competency must have been covered. It is important to remember that Endorsement® reflects training specialisation in the promotion of culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice promoting social and emotional well-being in the first years of life or infant mental health.

Please list no more than 3 knowledge/skill areas for training events of 1 to 2 hours; no more than 6 knowledge/skill areas for training events of 6 to 8 hours; and so on. Although the minimum requirement is 30 hours, we expect Endorsement® candidates to document that they have achieved competency in all (or almost all) of the categories (as identified at your desired category) via TAFE or University course work, on-the-job training, in-service opportunities and reflective supervision/consultation. So, if there are still gaps in your competencies with only 30 hours, include as many others as you can to fill those gaps.

2. How far back can I go when including trainings that meet criteria for Endorsement®?

There is no limit on how long ago the training was attended to be counted toward requirements. Some candidates may have been in the field for many years and are encouraged to include all the trainings that have shaped their practice in infant-family work. However, it is not necessary to submit a comprehensive list of every training ever attended. The list should reflect a balance of breadth and depth across the competencies and the promotion of infant mental health.

Specialised Work Experience

3. How many infants or young children do I need to work with to meet the specialised work criteria?

Endorsement® applicants should have enough experience with infants and young children (0-36 months) so that the person who completes the reference rating forms can confidently answers questions about the applicant's knowledge and skills related to the promotion and practice of infant mental health. For practitioners whose work experience has been primarily with preschool aged children, AAIMH WA expects service delivery to a minimum of 10 families where the infant/young child (0-36 months) is the target of the intervention over a period of time that is at least six months. If the practitioner's experience has not yet included infants/toddlers or pre-schoolers, AAIMH WA expects service delivery to a minimum of 10 families where the infant/young child is the target of the intervention over a period of time that is at least two years.

4. I have a Master’s degree, so should I start at the Infant Mental Health Practitioner (IMHP) category?

Overall, Endorsement® is seen as a professional development framework. It is most common for people to start in the categories of Infant Family Worker or Infant Family Practitioner. Over time, once practitioners have had an opportunity to serve many infant mental health cases while receiving reflective supervision/consultation from someone who is endorsed, and after participating in many specialised in-service training opportunities, they may have developed a degree of expertise that qualifies them for the Infant Mental Health Practitioner Category. It is important to be sure that a candidate has achieved that level of knowledge and experience so that there is greater assurance of successfully completing the written exam. Also, once a practitioner is endorsed as Infant Mental Health Practitioner, they can be considered as potential providers of reflective supervision/consultation to other candidates who are seeking Endorsement®.

5. Is there a difference between the specialised work experiences that meet criteria for Infant Family Practitioner (IFP) versus Infant Mental Health Practitioner (IMHP)?

Yes, in general the IFP category work experience is more broad and encompasses many of the ways that candidates might work with the families of infants and toddlers including case management, service coordination, parent-child play groups, parent education, and family support. For the IMHP category, work experiences are clinic- or home-based and include the following interventions: advocacy, developmental guidance, emotional support, concrete assistance, and parent-infant psychotherapy. Competence as an Infant Mental Health Practitioner builds with supervised work experience over time with services delivered to the families of infants and toddlers that are relationship-focused and culturally sensitive with an emphasis on examining the role of relationships in reflective supervision

Reflective Supervision

1. What is Reflective Practice?

Interest in reflective practice and supervisory support is growing rapidly as with the increased focus on the social and emotional well-being of babies, young children, and preschool age children. Whether trained as a mental health professional, a health professional, a social worker, or an early childhood professional, if you are working with children birth to age three and their families, you will benefit from supportive consultation to help you better understand yourself in relationship to the infants and families with whom you work. Reflective practice focuses on the development of relationships that support growth and development between supervisors and staff, staff and families, and parents and children. It is within these relationships that learning and change is able to take place. It is more a way of being than a way of doing (Zero to Three).

2. What are the requirements for Reflective Supervision/Consultation (RS/C) at each Endorsement® Category?

Infant Family Worker

Infant Family Worker applicants are not required to receive RS/C; however, AAIMH WA recommends that all infant/young children professionals seek RS/C.

Infant Family Practitioner
Infant Family Practitioner applicants must receive a minimum of 24 clock hours of RS/C in no less than one year and no more than a two-year time frame. To meet the criteria for Endorsement®, RS/C must be conducted by someone who is Endorsed as Infant Mental Health Practitioner or IMH Mentor-Clinical. The only exception is for applicants who are pursuing Infant Family Practitioner and are Bachelor’s prepared; they can receive qualified RS/C from someone who has earned endorsement as Infant Family Practitioner AND is has a Master’s.

Infant Mental Health Practitioner
Infant Mental Health Practitioner applicants must have received a minimum of 50 clock hours of RS/C within the same time 1-2 year time frame. Reflective supervision/consultation that meets criteria for Endorsement® must come from someone who is endorsed Infant Mental Health Practitioners or IMH Mentor – Clinical.

Infant Mental Health Mentor – Clinical
Infant Mental Health Mentor – Clinical applicants must have received a minimum of 50 clock hours of RS/C within the same time 1-2 year time frame. Reflective supervision/consultation that meets criteria for Endorsement® must come from someone who is endorsed as IMH Practitioner of IMH Mentor-C.

Infant Mental Health Mentor – Policy
Infant Mental Health Mentor – Policy applicants are not required to receive RS/C; however, AAIMH WA recommends that all infant/young child professionals seek RS/C.

Infant Mental Health Mentor – Research/Academic
Infant Mental Health Mentor – Research/Academic applicants are not required to receive RS/C; however, AAIMH WA recommends that all infant/young child professionals seek RS/C.

3. Can co-workers provide the hours of reflective supervision I need?

Peer supervision (defined as colleagues meeting together without an identified supervisor/consultant to guide the reflective process), while valuable for many experienced practitioners, does not meet the reflective supervision/consultation criteria for Endorsement®.

The provider of reflective supervision is charged with holding the emotional content of the cases presented. The ability to do so is compromised when the provider is a peer of the presenter. Unnecessary complications can arise when the provider of reflective supervision has concerns about a peer’s ability to serve a particular family due to the peer’s emotional response AND the provider and peer share office space, etc. You may find answers to other questions like this in Best Practice Guidelines for Reflective Supervision/Consultation.

Endorsement® Exam

1. What is the format of the exam for the Infant Mental Health Practitioners and Infant Mental Health Mentors? (no exam is needed for Infant Family Workers/Practitioners)

There are two parts to the exam: Part 1 consists of 60 multiple choice questions. Part 2 consists of three vignettes with corresponding questions; you will be asked to respond to two of the three vignettes. You will have three hours to complete the entire examination (90-minutes for Part 1 and 90-minutes for Part 2). The material covered requires knowledge about pregnancy, early development and clinical practice experiences. Both parts draw on cumulative learning experiences in college or university settings and specialised in-service trainings, as well as self-study (e.g. books and journal articles about infancy, early parenthood and infant mental health). Your supervised work experiences with infants, young children (0-36 months) and families, and experiences within reflective supervision or consultation groups related to your work with infants and families will also contribute to learning that is reflected in the examination questions.

2. What primary topics are covered in the multiple-choice portion of the test?

The multiple-choice questions are related to the knowledge and skill areas of the competencies as indicated in the AAIMH Competency Guidelines® :

  • Attachment separation, and loss
  • Pregnancy, infant and young child development and behaviour
  • Relationship-based therapeutic practice
  • Infant mental health screening and assessment
  • Disorders of infancy/early childhood
  • Cultural competence
  • Reflective practice 


                                                                                                              Photo copyright AAIMH WA