Taught course

Working with Infants and the Early Years: A Psychoanalytic Approach (M9)

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust · Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Entry requirements

Applicants are expected: to have had at least one year’s experience of direct work, paid or voluntary, with parents, infants or pre-school age children, or families with young children; to be currently undertaking direct work with the above (minimum one day a week); to provide two references, one from an employer who can give an account of your work with the under five age group; to have a first degree or the equivalent, or to be able to demonstrate that you will be able to meet the academic demands of the course. We do not insist on a degree, especially if you have extensive experience of work with under fives.

Months of entry


Course content

The course consists of the following elements:

  • infant observation;
  • work discussion;
  • child development research;
  • psychoanalytic theory and its applications to infant mental health and early years’ development;
  • young child observation;
  • MA dissertation.

A personal tutor will support your professional and personal development on the course.

Infant observation

You will observe a baby in his/her family home every week for two years. Your observations will be presented for discussion in a small seminar group, and your experience of observing will be the basis for learning about very early development and relationships.

Work discussion

A multi-disciplinary seminar, with students from a wide range of early years’ professional settings, to which you bring detailed studies of your work for discussion. This helps you improve your understanding of developing relationship with the parents, infants and young children you are working with. In addition, the seminar group explores the dynamics at play at institutional and interpersonal levels, and the possible emotional meaning of verbal and non-verbal behaviours and communications.

Psychoanalytic theory one: Theoretical Perspectives

Theory one introduces students to key psychoanalytic concepts, and their application to specialist early years’ contexts. The theory is presented as a way of organising and describing observation and experience, and takes the form of lectures and discussion reading groups. You will read key papers introducing psychoanalytic concepts, followed by papers illustrating the application of these concepts to parent-infant and young child interventions in a range of under fives settings.

Child development research

You will attend fortnightly lectures, with related reading, covering recent and seminar research in the field of infant and child development.

Young child observation

You will observe a pre-school child ( between 2 and 4 years old), in his/her family, or in a nursery or other early years’ child care setting for an hour a week for an academic year, learning about the emotional meaning of the child’s behaviour, as he or she starts to relate to others outside the family. Institutional dynamics are also explored where relevant.

Join us at a course specific Open Evening on the 12th May 2016 from 5.30pm - 8.30pm To register your place, please complete our online booking form.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Please see information on fees and funding for Tavistock and Portman students on our website.

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months


part time
12 months


part time
9 months

Course contact details

Rosa Akerman
+44 (0)20 8938 2213 / 2214