Lydia Adkins, MA received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2011. She first witnessed the transformative power of early intervention while volunteering at a domestic violence shelter with trauma exposed infants and toddlers. Lydia says, "I was inspired to pursue a degree at Mills after an admission counselor listened to my professional aspirations and suggested the Infant Mental Health Program might be a good fit. It proved to be a perfect one." Lydia’s master’s thesis involved close examination of micro interactions between mothers and children in order to investigate correlations among maternal interactive behaviors and concurrent child outcomes. Lydia also completed a two-year internship placement at the Infant Parent Program where she worked as a therapeutic shadow trainee. The rich theoretical and practical training that Lydia received at Mills serves her daily in her work as a therapeutic shadow with preschool-aged children. She is dedicated to the field of infant mental health and her next steps include pursuit of a second master’s degree in counseling psychology which will position her for clinical licensure and a career as a child therapist.
Jessica Brennan, MA (Psychology BA, ’11) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2012. Her research studied the association between mothers’ perceptions of their parenting experiences and maternal stress and their children’s developmental strengths and risks in a sample of mothers of children between the ages of one and a half to eleven years. Following Mills, Jessica entered doctoral graduate study in School of Psychology at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Jessica has discovered that education she received in infant mental health is not something universities offer in the UK. She says of her new colleagues, “They've said what a brilliant concept it is and believe that my education in development will be a great asset to the program, as well as other schools within the university.” In addition to her postgraduate study of mothering during pregnancy, Jessica hopes to help bring attachment-based intervention to a local mental health and parenting clinic.
Natasha Hartman, MA (Psychology BA, '08) received her master's degree in infant mental health in 2011. While studying attachment theory, early childhood development, and psychobiology as a Mills undergraduate, Natasha became interested in the importance of early childhood and the field of infant mental health. Natasha continued to explore these themes in the context of parent-child relationships and teacher-child relationships in graduate school. During her internship placement, Natasha supported the implementation of a social-emotional based pilot program in an Early Head Start and a Head Start classroom. Her master's research explored the contribution of teachers' emotion-regulation, complexity of thinking, and job satisfaction to their caregiving sensitivity. Natasha is currently working in Early Head Start centers in Oakland, California. She coaches and trains teachers, conducts parenting classes, works with infants and toddlers in the classroom, conducts teacher-child interaction assessments, analyzes data regarding teacher and child development, and supports programmatic changes designed to strengthen teacher-child and parent-child relationships. Natasha says, "My current work extends the research I conducted for my thesis and is oriented towards merging the principles of infant mental health with the field of early childhood education."
Cynthia Martinez-Roberts, MA received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2010. Cynthia interned at Infant Parent Program in San Francisco General Hospital where she collaborated in leading a group for infants and their mothers of trauma and served as a therapeutic shadow by providing support and intervention to individual preschool children with challenging behaviors. Cynthia’s master's research and professional experiences have significantly involved working with the local Latino community. Her master’s thesis was the first study to explore the emotions of Latina mothers during the inoculation process. Since completing her degree, she has worked as a Child Development Specialist and headed an Early Head Start Home Based program for Brighter Beginnings in Richmond, California. Cynthia next worked as the Community Resource Specialist for the Antioch First Five Center. Presently, Cynthia is working as an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant for Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay. Additionally she is working as a practitioner, facilitating parent groups, for an evidenced based parenting program, Triple P through COPE Family Support Center. Cynthia says, "My master’s research and experience in early childhood taught me how important and essential it is that parents be loving and responsive with their children and their varying needs for children’s most optimal development."
Sabra Melamed, MA (Psychology BA, '05) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2011. Sabra worked as a research assistant for Dr. George while a Mills undergraduate and during the interim prior to entering the master's program. She also worked during this interim as a preschool teacher in a Montessori school. Sabra says, "These two experiences combined to create a deep interest in developmental psychology, especially inter-generational transmission of attachment through generations, and the neurological underpinnings of social-emotional adjustment." Sabra completed her internship at Early Head Start working with families in the classroom and during home visits. Her master's research studied the effect of infant co-sleeping in the first year on emotional adjustment in the toddler and preschool years. Since graduating, she has continued to work as a teacher, integrating knowledge about developmental neurobiology and mental health into her classrooms. Sabra now lives in Berlin where she is applying to a doctoral program in social neuroscience to study the relationship between the Vagal tone, emotional regulation, and empathy across the lifespan.
Amelia Newton, MA (Psychology BA, ’10) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2012. Her master’s research studied father's views of self as competent parents as influenced by the co-parenting relationship, parental alliance, and father postpartum depression. She is endorsed by the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health as an Advanced Transdisciplinary Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Practitioner. Amelia is a developmental specialist at Abilities United in Palo Alto, CA. She works in the early intervention program running developmental groups, conducting home visits and providing case management for children birth to three years old who have developmental or physical disabilities or are at risk. Amelia says, “Completing the thesis study gave me specialized knowledge on parenthood, which informs the way I approach and interact with my clients and their young children. I also have more confidence as an infant mental health professional working with families.” She currently continues to research fathers' parenting experiences of young children in collaboration with Dr. Carol George.
Aki Raymer, MA (Psychology BA, ’08) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2009. Aki says, "The multidisciplinary approach to education offered in the program was invaluable." Aki’s graduate thesis considered the efficacy of various nighttime parenting methods, and the social and emotional costs and benefits of nighttime sleeping parents to both parent and child. Her internship at Pre-to-3 in San Mateo gave her the opportunity to conduct home visits with at-risk families and develop and run an infant-parent class. Aki says, "This experience instilled a passion for reflective practice." Since completing her degree, Aki continues to gain professional experience, including roles as family clinician and home visitor at Through the Looking Glass, mental health consultant at a Head Start Preschool, therapeutic shadow aide serving children with special needs in the classroom, and parent educator. Currently Aki is the director of Parenting Paths, where she runs workshops, provides child consultation, and blogs about her own adventures in parenthood.
Samantha Reisz, MA (Psychology BA, ’10) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2011. Her master’s research studied how mothers' birth experiences influenced their perceptions of parenting and of their babies in a sample of mothers of infants, aged birth to twelve months. Following Mills, Samantha entered doctoral graduate study in the department Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas, Austin. She is currently working on several research projects, including studying the effects of extreme chronic trauma on emerging adults and infant-mother feeding interactions. Samantha says, "My background in infant mental health has distinguished me from my colleagues because it provides a unique perspective and approach to research questions." Samantha has a deep belief in the integration of research and practice as a result of her experience in the Infant Mental Health Program, and she strives to infuse her work with this perspective and encourage her colleagues to do the same. In addition to her graduate research, Samantha serves as an editorial assistant for the Journal of Marriage and Family.
Janelle Rohl-Bistue, MA received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2010. She came to Mills with a BA in Psychology and Spanish from UC Davis, having heard about the Mills program from a UC Davis colleague. Janelle's internship in at Pre-to-3 in San Mateo provided first-hand experience in counseling mothers with children under the age of five who were suffering from post-partum depression and other psychological problems. This experience was intertwined with her master's thesis research in which she examined the relation between post-partum and mothers' decision to breast or bottle feed their infants. Janelle took a position as Head Teacher in the Infant/Toddler room in the Mills College Children's School for two years following the completion of her master's degree. Presently, she is relocating and not currently working in the field. Janelle says, "My master's research made me even more interested in continuing my education in human development and I hope to one day engage in more research in child development and teach at a university."
Mikhaila Rutherford, MA (Biopsychology BA, '11) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2012. Mikhaila has always had a deep interest in neuroscience and how psycho-physiology relates to early experiences. Her master's research compared biological and adoptive mothers on a series of dimensions known to influence the quality of infant-mother relationships and infant development, including previous loss/trauma experience, perinatal grief and mourning. She completed her internship as a child developmental specialist at Kidango. Mikhaila is currently supplementing her infant mental health background with pre-med courses so she may use her knowledge of infant mental health to help further research within the medical community regarding the effects of early deprivation and loss on brain development.
Cheryl Sundheim, MA (Psychology BA, Spanish minor, ’11) received her master’s degree in infant mental health in 2012. Prior to resuming her education, Cheryl worked with children with moderate to severe autism. This experience underscored the positive effects of early intervention in a child’s life. Cheryl says, "The Infant Mental Health Program offered the right combination of psychology, attachment, research, and early childhood education." Her master’s research studied maternal perceptions of infants’ emotional needs and spoiling as predictors of child abuse risk. Cheryl was an intern at Epiphany Center where she now currently works with mother–child dyads for mothers in recovery. She teaches child development classes, conducts developmental assessments, and leads an interactive parenting program. Cheryl says, "The thesis research underscored the importance of supporting the relationship between mother and child and of acknowledging the mother as the expert on her child."