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AiMH UK is delighted that Art at the Start will be presenting our January Skills Box session. This will bring some brightness and fun to the depths of winter. Vicky Armstrong and Claire Norfolk co-facilitate parent-baby art sessions for the acclaimed Art at the Start Programme in Dundee, Scotland. This is an evidence-based programme which focusses on bringing the benefits of art-based play to parent-infant relationships. Research on the programme has been undertaken in collaboration with the University of Dundee. Evaluation showed observable, positive changes in parent-baby interactions. The Art at the Start programme is now being scaled up across new sites in Scotland.

Art-based interventions can:

  • Show babies that new experiences can be fun!
  • Support parent-baby communication, connection and enjoyment!
  • Help infants see that they can make their mark on the world and it will be positively received!

The art-based, therapist-facilitated programme is designed to support parents in regulating and attuning with their baby’s aims and feelings. Parents who join the programme may feel overwhelmed by the task of being a new parent or may be struggling to bond with their baby. Some parents may come suffering from post-natal depression. Parents are supported to have warm, reciprocal interactions with their baby to build expectations of safe, supportive, responses from others. These schemas can lead to a positive sense of self and encourage children to engage with and build relationships as they grow up. Art at the Start’s premise is that by targeting their intervention at an early stage it will have the potential to improve not only the current health of each dyad, but the health of future generations.

From the Art at the Start website:

“Art making together can bring so much joy to very young children and their grown-ups. And while you make art together, you and your baby are also sharing something important. Art making together creates wonderful moments of connection. We believe that making art is amazing for little ones’ sense of self: When babies make a mark in the paint, they see the impact they can have on the world. And when they see the adults in their lives respond positively to these creations, this builds their self-esteem. Playing with art materials also gives young children new and stimulating sensory experiences. By helping your baby enjoy these experiences, you are teaching them not to be afraid to explore the world.”

Vicky and Claire will share a variety of practical ideas that all practitioners can use in their work with parents and babies.All ideas shared will have the aim of increasing connection and fun. We hope this session will be a bright spot in your day, with plenty to take away and that you will be able to join us!

Tickets: Members FREE, Non-members £15

Book your place here

All attendees will be sent an AiMH UK CPD Certificate.

Download the programme

Speaker Bios

Dr Vicky Armstrong is an HCPC registered art therapist and a lecturer in psychology. She runs the Art at the Start research project at the University of Dundee which looks at the benefits of art making on early relationships including developing and evidencing a model of parent-infant art therapy.

She has trained art therapists, early years workers, and health professionals in art-based approaches. She is the art therapist at Dundee Contemporary Arts running parent-infant art therapy groups to support attachment relationships and wellbeing in partnership with the NHS Tayside Infant Mental Health team.

Dr Claire Norfolk is a Clinical Psychologist in the Infant Mental Health Service in NHS Tayside. Prior to joining this IMHT, she worked in CAMHS, specialising in work with children, young people and families where, underlying the mental health concerns, there were concerns around trauma and attachment in the early years.

Working extensively with the complex presentations in CAMHS, where difficulties in the early relational context frequently lay at the root of concerns, has fostered a strong interest in the powerful influence of this early period and in the therapeutic interventions that can effectively intervene to shift this trajectory. The choice to join the Infant Mental Health Team reflected this interest.

Claire has recently completed a post graduate diploma in Psychoanalytic Observation and Reflective Practice allowing her the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the way early relationships may shape infant development and to nurture her skills in the observation of babies and young children.