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PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development – Info Session

Infant and Early Childhood Development - adult holding infant's hand

Virtual Info Session with Program Director Dr. Jenene Craig

PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development

The Fielding Ph.D. in Infant and Early Childhood Development (IECD) with an emphasis in mental health and developmental disorders is a degree serving multiple disciplines as they apply their work using the lens of infant mental health (IMH) and development. The program was initiated by Stanley Greenspan, MD, and Serena Weider, Ph.D., to promote research supporting relationships, individual differences, and development (DIR®) in working with infants, children, and their families. The field of Infant and Early Childhood Development is exciting and highly rewarding. The first years of life lay the foundation for all domains of human development, including the basic relationship building blocks needed for the capacities to feel, love, adapt, and develop a sense of self. The program is interprofessional in structure, including mental health professionals (Clinical and counseling psychologists, MFT, SW), OT, PT, SLP, medical professionals (MD, RN), social services professionals as well as educators and policymakers.

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With a core emphasis in IMH, the underpinnings of the program currently include an integrative relationship-based model focused on the development and individual differences. Through Fielding’s progressive doctoral program, professionals expand their content knowledge through research, leading the field with evidence-based practice.  Students study interprofessional perspectives about concepts associated with an infant’s and family’s well-being, including culture, policy, and advocacy as well as neurodevelopmental, biological, social-emotional, sensorimotor, language, cognitive, and family systems. Course work fosters evidence-based perspectives of healthy relationships in infancy, early childhood, and families across disciplines as well as treatment models.

The program is focused on applied research in IMH and development, including how intervention programs, policies, and issues, such as culture and social relationships, influence development, and families.  The program is designed for professionals already working in related fields including psychology, occupational therapy, social work, counseling, mental health, education, early intervention, speech-language pathology, nursing, physicians, physical therapy, and others.  Research initiatives address a wide range of developmental challenges and disorders, including autism spectrum, sensory integration, ADHD, and mood disorders.

Graduates from this research-focused Ph.D. program will be prepared for several careers in research, policy and advocacy, and clinical/educational settings.

Thank you for your interest in IECD.

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About the Presenter

Dr. Craig earned her undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia and her MBA from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.  She was one of the first students to earn her Ph.D. in IECD from Fielding. Dr. Craig returned to Fielding Graduate University in 2019 as Program Director over the IECD program.

Mother of six grown children, (and a relatively recent “empty-nester,”) she credits her own experience bearing and raising children for the initial spark and her longtime work within the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) world. Since 1985, she has worked with multiple hospitals and groups in leadership, and on Boards of Directors advancing NICU work in Developmentally Supportive and Trauma-Informed Neuroprotective Caregiving.

Citing the importance of self-nurturance, Dr. Craig pursues her love of music, playing and performing jazz saxophone and classical oboe.


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