Highlights from the 9th International conference for infant observation 2024

Celebrating global collaboration in the field of infant observation

Last week, we were delighted to host the much-anticipated 9th International conference for infant observation. Returning in-person to the Tavistock Centre for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, speakers and delegates from across the world, including the United States, South Africa, Japan and Greece, gathered to explore the theme of psychoanalytic observation, intersectionality and the social matrix.

The two-day event featured an engaging series of discussions and presentations through formal plenary sessions and interactive workshops. Speakers shared a wealth of international insights on the role of identity in the teaching and learning of infant observation and the impact of social forces and structures on an infant’s emotional experience and development. This included an exploration of maternal identities, diversity and the application of infant observation methodology in different settings, to name but a few.

Dr Alexandra de Rementeria, Principal child and adolescent psychotherapist and course tutor for our MA course in Perinatal, child, adolescent and family work: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7), said: “It was really invigorating to be part of an event bringing together child psychotherapists from around the globe and from all generations, including students and trainees. We have been grappling with important challenges that face our profession through our thinking about infant observation, the cornerstone of the training that we deliver as a Trust”.

Dr Matthew Chuard, Joint course lead for our Perinatal, child, adolescent and family work: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7) and the lead organiser for the conference, continued “It was the first time that identity and intersectionality have been addressed explicitly as a conference theme … [this] has arisen directly from work which we have been engaged in within the child psychotherapy discipline at The Tavistock and Portman over several years”.

Throughout the event, time for small group reflections provided space to digest, collaborate, and advance the rich content further. Meanwhile, networking opportunities and informal discussions created invaluable opportunities for attendees to exchange ideas, share experiences and forge global collaborations.

Dr Margaret Lush, Child Psychotherapist and joint course lead for Perinatal, child, adolescent and family work: a psychoanalytic observational approach (M7) said, “There was a vibrant atmosphere at the infant observation conference as presenters and delegates from around the country and all over the world came together with old friends and met newer colleagues face to face, sometimes for the first time. The presentations were varied and it was very useful to share ideas about the infant observation task, thinking about the complex factors that are shaping infants’ and students’ identities in changing societal contexts. The topic was a challenging one and discussion was lively and robust with some marked differences of opinion coming to the fore at points. In addition it was great to be reminded of how the infant observation method, pioneered at the Tavistock, is alive and continues to flourish in so many parts of the world.”

Attendees left the event enthused with a shared commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of infants and families worldwide and to advancing the field of infant observation on an international level.

A big thank you goes out to all the organising committee, speakers, operations team, and the delegates who made the journey to join us. We hope to see you at future events!

What’s next?

If you’re interested in learning more about the role of infant observation in our training at the Tavistock and Portman, download our prospectus to explore our range of courses and attend our upcoming open day.

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