Infant Observation

The course adopts a psychoanalytic perspective and uses literature on child development research where appropriate. Particular emphasis is placed on an attempt to describe the infant’s emotional and psychological experience as it manifests in its behaviour and early relationships. The primary object of study is the infant’s mental and personality growth and the familial context in which this occurs.

Course aims:

The infant observation course will enable students to:

  • Observe and to establish the boundaries of the observational role
  • Become disciplined observers able to record in detail what has occurred during the observation
  • Develop an understanding of the complex nature of infant observation and an awareness of the emotional impact on the observer
  • Study the growth of mind and personality from a psychoanalytic perspective including the factors that may interfere with or enhance this development
  • Promote awareness of and sensitivity to the varied ethnic, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds of the observed infants and their families
  • Write infant observation assignments as required for the course assessment and to prepare a portfolio of three context sensitive observations

Course Content and Requirements:

Each student is required to observe an infant interacting with family members in the infant’s own home from birth onwards, on a weekly basis for either one year (Certificate) or two years (Diploma).

Students arrange their own observations with help from the seminar leader. Each observation lasts for one hour subsequent to which detailed written notes are made as soon as possible of all that has been observed. Notes are not made during the observation and mechanical recording is not permitted as these observations are partly aimed at training students in disciplined observation. This observation includes countertransference feelings and reactions and subsequent reflections on these responses.

A weekly seminar (75 minutes) needs to be attended in which the written observation is discussed on a rotational basis. The group explores the possible conscious and unconscious meanings of the events and behaviours experienced in the presented infant observations.