Achieving Endorsement® Involves Five Steps:
1. Inquire by contacting OK-AIMH
2. Complete and submit the preliminary application, including the application fee and OK-AIMH membership fee (unless already a member). Membership can be renewed on-line.
3. Prepare and submit the completed professional portfolio.
4. Documentation of competencies
Some notable features of the OK-AIMH Endorsement (IMH-E®) process include:
Assignment of an Endorsement® Advisor to assist with the portfolio development process.
Review of professional portfolio materials by the Endorsement® Advisor.
Submission of completed professional portfolio to OK-AIMH for review.
Review of completed professional portfolio by assigned Endorsement® committee members.
Administration of three-hour, written Endorsement® exam, offered twice a year (March/October), for IMH Specialists and Mentor candidates; exam includes multiple choice questions and clinical, policy or faculty/research vignettes to assess knowledge, skills and competencies.
Review of exam by assigned Endorsement® test review committee members.
Endorsement® decision by e-mail.
Endorsement® certificate signed and mailed along with feedback regarding professional portfolio or responses to vignettes in the qualitative portion of the exam.
Annual renewal of Endorsement® requires continued membership in OK-AIMH or another infant mental health association and annual documentation of 15 hours (minimum) of training experiences which promote infant mental health practice; reflective supervision/consultation recommended for endorsed members.
Fees vary according to the type of Endorsement® being sought.
Infant Family Associate: Registration Fee $15 and Processing Fee $25
Infant Family Specialist: Registration Fee $20 and Processing Fee $100
Infant Mental Health Specialist: Registration Fee $25 and Processing Fee $300
Infant Mental Health Mentor: Registration Fee $25 and Processing Fee $400
There is an initial registration fee that is sent in with the preliminary application. In addition, membership in OK-AIMH (or another infant mental health association) is required at the time of preliminary application so that candidates can be notified of relevant training opportunities.
The processing fee must be sent when you submit your professional portfolio to OK-AIMH for review.
The costs for IMH Specialists and Mentors are in line with credentialing fees that have been established by other professional organizations, e.g. CDA (Child Development Associate) and ACSW (Accreditation for Certified Social Workers). The credentialing fees support the overhead costs of the OK-AIMH Endorsement (IMH-E®) and allow us to have portfolios and tests carefully reviewed.
Endorsement® is valuable in three ways:
1. Endorsement® provides a set of competencies for professional development in the infant and family field.
2. Endorsement® assures that persons providing culturally sensitive, relationship-focused services promoting infant mental health meet standards that are approved by a highly recognized professional organization for the discipline of infant mental health.
3. Endorsement® recognizes the importance of continuing education and training for professionals in the infant and family field. Those who earn the Endorsement® demonstrate their commitment to this principle as they provide services that promote infant mental health with a high level of quality and integrity.
Consider the following:
To enhance your professional profile as a specialist in the infant and family field
To affirm the specialized knowledge and skills you have acquired through formal education experience and in-service training
To validate the work that you have done under the guidance and supervision of experienced mentors in the infant and family field
To link your professional growth and development to competency standards that reflect best practice
To be identified as a competent professional in a system that reflects commitment to best practice and quality care for all infants, toddlers and families
Requirements depend on the type of Endorsement® you are seeking. The following documents are required for all types of Endorsement®:
Official transcripts from educational institutions in a sealed envelope
E-form template (supplied by OK-AIMH) with lists of specialized in-service trainings related to culturally sensitive, relationship-based practice promoting infant mental health that reflect competencies, paid work experiences with or related to infants, toddlers, and their families, and (for Infant Family Specialist, Infant Mental Health Specialists and Infant Mental Health Mentors) reflective consultation experiences while working with infants, toddlers and their families
Three reference ratings
Signed Code of Ethics
Signed Endorsement® Agreement
Proof of membership in OK-AIMH or other infant mental health association
Payment of the Endorsement® Fee
Graduates from a college or university program or post-graduate certificate program in infant mental health must submit documentation of completion of the program, such as a copy of diploma or certificate.
In regards to reflective consultation, candidates applying for the Infant Family Specialist must receive a minimum of 24 clock hours in no less than one year and no more than a two-year time frame. Candidates applying for the Infant Mental Health Specialist must have received a minimum of 50 clock hours of reflective consultation within the same 1-2 year time frame. Reflective consultation that meets criteria for Endorsement® must come from someone who is Endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Specialist or Mentor.
The only exception is candidates who are pursuing Endorsement® as an Infant Family Specialist and are Bachelor's prepared can receive qualified reflective consultation from someone who has earned Endorsement® as and Infant Family Specialist AND is Master's prepared.
Reflective consultation that meets criteria for OK-AIMH Endorsement® should come from an individual who has earned Endorsement® as an Infant Mental Health Specialist or Mentor (or would meet training and reflective supervision criteria for those types of Endorsement®). So, as you said, lots of clinical supervision is reflective, but perhaps not all is from a specialist in infant mental health. For your portfolio, please only include those hours that were provided by an individual who specializes in infant mental health and that was focused on the practice or the promotion of infant mental health.
(See Infant Mental Health Consultant Competencies)
See also Best Practices Guidelines for Reflective Supervision/ Consultation
Can I included multiple sources when documenting my reflective consultation? (i.e., former supervisor, current supervisor, program consultant, and reflective practice group)
If all of those sources meet criteria for endorsement® (see previous question), you may include them all as long as the majority of the required clock hours were provided by just one or two supervisors/consultants.
As in relationship-focused practice with families, reflective supervision/consultation is most effective when it occurs in the context of a relationship that has an opportunity to develop by meeting regularly with the same supervisor/consultant over a period of time. Therefore, OK-AIMH expects that Endorsement® candidates will have received the majority of the hours (24 clock hour minimum for Infant Family Specialist and 50 clock hours for Infant Mental Health Specialist and Mentor-Clinical) come from just one source with the balance coming from no more than one other source. The hours for each type of candidate need to have occurred in a period of time that is more than one year and less than two years. For example, an Infant Mental Health Specialist candidate may submit 48 hours of individual reflective consultation provided by the supervisor from Jan 08 through Dec 08 and 12 hours of reflective group supervision provided by a program consultant from Jan 07 through Dec 07.
Some candidates may have special circumstances, e.g. if the program supervisor changed or if the candidate moved positions. Exceptions regarding the number of reflective consultation providers should be discussed with OK-AIMH's Endorsement® leadership.
Using the OK-AIMH 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; etc. For a training to count toward Endorsement® at least one competency must have been covered. It is important to remember that Endorsement® reflects training specialization 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.
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 level) via college course work, on-the-job training, in-service opportunities and reflective 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.
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.
The training does not need to be sponsored by OK-AIMH to be eligible to count toward your minimum for Endorsement®. In fact, many trainings that you attend for professional licensing or agency requirements may also qualify for Endorsement®.
A specialized training that is eligible for Endorsement® should meet the following criteria:
Is culturally sensitive, relationship-focused and promotes infant mental health
Relates to one or more of the competencies in the OK-AIMH Competency Guidelines
Is specific to the type of Endorsement® at which you are applying
Overall, Endorsement® is seen as a professional development ladder. It is most common for people to start as an Infant Family Specialist. Over time, once practitioners have had an opportunity to serve many infant mental health cases while receiving reflective consultation from someone who is Endorsed and after participating in many specialized in-service training opportunities, they may have developed a degree of expertise that qualifies them for the Infant Mental Health Specialist. It is important to be sure that a candidate has achieved that expertise so that there is greater assurance of successfully completing the written exam. Also, once a practitioner has earned Endorsement® as a Infant Mental Health Specialist, they are qualified to provide reflective supervision to other candidates who are seeking Endorsement®.
OK-AIMH believes that Endorsement® applicants should have enough experience with infants/toddlers so that the persons who completes the reference rating forms can confidently answers questions about the applicant's knowledge and skills related to the promotion/practice of infant mental health. The requirements state, "Minimum two years paid, post Bachelor's, professional work experience providing services that promote infant mental health. Work experience meets this criterion as long as the applicant has:
1. Served a minimum of 10 families of infants/toddlers (birth to 36 months) and,
2. A primary focus of the services provided is the social-emotional needs of infant/toddler and,
3. Services include attention to the relationships surrounding the infant/toddler"
All portfolios are carefully reviewed by two volunteer members who have earned Endorsement® and/or are members of the Endorsement® Committee. Reviews are conducted using an eight-page checklist that includes all the knowledge and skill areas, including reflective consultation experiences, under the broader competency categories. After examining your official transcripts, the reference rating forms, and your lists of specialized work, in-service training, and reflective consultation experiences, each reviewer will make recommendations about whether to endorse or to approve you to sit for the exam, depending on the type of Endorsement® you are seeking. They may also suggest that you pursue further training and/or reflective and then be re-reviewed after a period of time.
There are two parts to the test: Part I consists of multiple choice questions. Part II consists of three vignettes or scenarios; you are asked to answer two of the three. You will have three hours to complete the examination (i.e., 1 hour to complete Part I and 2 hours to complete Part II). 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 specialized 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, toddlers and families, and experiences within reflective consultation groups related to your work with infants and families will also contribute to learning that is reflected in the examination questions.
Studying for the test will vary from person to person. If you are currently engaged in relationship-based practice with infants and their families, receive reflective consultation and have consistently updated your knowledge and skills through specialized in-service training or enrollment in university or college course work specific to infancy, early parenthood and infant mental health, you will most likely be very well prepared. If you have not engaged in clinical practice or attended in-service trainings or university-based coursework specific to the promotion of infant mental health, you will find the test challenging.
Preparing for the Endorsement® Exam - This document goes into more depth on ways to study for the Endorsement® Exam and what material could be included. It also includes a resource list.
A passing score on Part 1 (multiple choice) of the exam is 80%. Candidates who receive a score of less than 80% will be invited to take the exam again in one year. In order to carefully protect the exam materials, candidates will not receive specific feedback related to the questions missed on Part 1. Candidates who do not receive a passing score on Part 2 (response to vignettes/scenarios) will be provided specific feedback based on exam reviewers' remarks. Those candidates will be invited to take the exam again in one year. There is no charge to retake Part 1 or Part 2 of the exam.
The IMH-E® mark indicates that a person has earned Endorsement. Use of the registered trademark is important (whenever possible) to distinguish from other systems of "endorsement." The type of Endorsement® is indicated after the IMH-E® in parentheses and the title can be written under, such as:
Jane Doe, MSW, LMSW, IMH-E®
Infant Mental Health Specialist