Integrating research and theory on early relationships to guide intervention and prevention

Amanda Sheffield Morris, Amy Treat, Jennifer Hays-Grudo, Tessa Chesher, Amy C. Williamson, Julia Mendez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In this chapter we provide an overview of the theoretical perspectives informing research and practice in early relationships, including attachment theory, psychodynamic theory, sociocultural theory, infant mental health, synchrony, the biopsychosocial model, and risk and resilience. This overview is followed by future directions for research and practice in building early relationships. We present an integrated model of infant mental health that incorporates current knowledge about the effects of early experiences on development (e.g., toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences, protective and compensatory experiences, and neurobiological research). We describe challenges and opportunities that may arise when applying infant mental health within other disciplines, such as early childhood education, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and developmental science. We end with an example of an integrated set of interventions developed and implemented at the state and community level, providing practical suggestions for including infant mental health in practice, research, and policy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuilding Early Social and Emotional Relationships with Infants and Toddlers
Subtitle of host publicationIntegrating Research and Practice
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783030031107
ISBN (Print)9783030031091
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Attachment
  • Early life stress
  • Infant mental health
  • Intervention and prevention
  • Parenting
  • Protective and compensatory experiences
  • Resilience


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