Co-Chairs: Mona Delahooke, PhD and Gilbert Foley, EdD

Members: Ron Balamuth, PhD; Charlotte Collier, PhD; Lisa deFaria, LCSW, BCD; Griffin Doyle, PhD; Steven Glazier, MA; Barbara Kalmanson, PhD; Judah Koller, PsyD; Connie Lillas, PhD, MFT, RN; Patricia Marquart, MFT; Stephanie Pass, PhD; Yana Peleg, PhD; Lori Jeanne Peloquin, PhD; Ruby Salazar, LCSW, BCD; Diane Selinger, PhD; Teresa Sindelar, PhD; Alisa Vig, PhD; ChristieVirtue-Herman, PhD; Kaja Weeks; Serena Wieder, PhD

The Profectum mental health working group is committed to promoting the optimal emotional health and well-being of individuals across the life span in the context of their families, relational systems, communities and cultures. It is concerned with all aspects that support developmental functioning and competence. For some development is the behavioral aspect of growth. For others it involves a progression of skills, and for still others, the essence is an emotional and thoughtful life with relationships at the center. The MH working group seeks to bring an integrated developmental and social/emotional perspective to the treatment of childhood disorders, which includes mastery of the Functional Emotional Developmental Levels (FEDL), the realization of cognitive potential, the acquisition of adaptive skills and adjustment to family, school and community, and the amelioration of psychological/developmental symptoms and emotional suffering. The aim of the group is to understand its constituency as unique persons of value and dignity, with individual differences and subjective mental life, as well as through knowledge acquired from rigorous scientific inquiry. We welcome individuals of other perspectives to join in.

By its very nature, the mental health working group is a multidisciplinary body subsuming a range of disciplines, specialties and professions under the overarching category of mental health including but not limited to: psychiatry, psychology, social work, the creative arts therapies, family and marriage counseling, psychiatric nursing and mental health counseling. Our work group has identified the areas we want to consider as we deliberate on the role of mental health in assessment and intervention, as a foundational capacity, in a reflective process approach. To maximize the collective expertise and specialized knowledge of this group, a division of labor is proposed organized into the following committees:

The Psychodynamic Committee works to identify, operationalize, synthesize and teach concepts and strategies which are compatible with expanding the scope of the DIR model theory and practice in light of psychodynamic thought including the centrality of relationships (including attachment), the import of affect, the role of pleasure, pain and assertion, the value of play, learning and mastery, the role of transference and countertransference in intervention, and the place for analysis of defense and interpretation in intervention.

The Life Span Committee works to understand the needs of individuals with developmental disorders as they grow, change and transition across the life cycle in relational context. The committee’s work includes the identification of resources, systems and intervention strategies most appropriate to promote optimal development through each stage. Adolescence, unfolding sexuality, education and training, work adjustment, independent living skills; intimacy, reproduction and parenthood are among some of the salient themes this committee will address.

The Bridges to Other Models and Methods Committee works to build communication and dialogue between Profectum and other treatment models/disciplines, and all other communities who serve children with developmental delays and their families. This committee will investigate how relational-developmental approaches, such as the DIR model and FCD, can enhance treatment protocols across specific modalities. It will also promote a dialogue between behavioral and developmental treatment models, in an attempt to learn from each other and in some cases, learn how to work together on treatment teams recognizing that they can be complimentary.

The Mental Health for Non-Mental-Health-Professionals Committee works to identify, operationalize and teach concepts and practices drawn from mental health which are salient and applicable to maximize the “therapeutic” potential of colleagues from across disciplines. Recognizing and respecting each discipline’s expertise and scope of practice, the committee recognizes that professionals from other disciplines can serve as therapeutic agents by becoming mental health informed practitioners. The concept and practice of reflective supervision will also be included within the scope of this committee.

The Family Committee works to understand how to support families in the context of the special needs journey. The committee will focus on various components of the family, including assessing risk factors and promoting resiliency factors for parents, sibling issues, and the role of extended family, (including grandparents). Training related to family support/dynamics for interventionists across disciplines and modalities will also be the focus of this committee.

The Research Committee works to inform the DIR model mental health practice with knowledge drawn from rigorous scientific inquiry and to examine the efficacy and validity of the DIR model mental health practices using empirical methodologies accepted by the research community. The committee’s work includes identifying relevant scientific literature for dissemination, forming a study group, as well as identifying research ideas and operationalizing concepts and practices suitable for scientific examination, formulating hypotheses and identifying appropriate research designs and methodologies. The committee may also identify individuals interested and trained to execute research studies, assist in the identification of populations and explore possible funding sources for research projects.

The Mental Health Work Group is charged with identifying key Foundational Developmental Capacities (FDC) essential to development from the mental health vantage. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Self-psychosocial-emotional and relational domains
  • Mastery of the Functional Emotional Developmental Levels (FEDL)
  • Realization of cognitive potential
  • Acquisition of adaptive skills
  • Adjustment to family, school and community
  • Amelioration of psychological/developmental symptoms
  • The alleviation of intra-psychic suffering

Through this exploratory process our work group will ultimately define, expand and refine the interactive experiences that enhance foundational capacities for future development.

Finally, as mental health practitioners, we are committed to promoting an understanding of our constituency as unique persons of value and dignity in light of developmental holism, with individual differences, strengths and challenges and a subjective mental life, informed by our collective clinical experience and knowledge acquired from rigorous scientific inquiry.