Honoring Doug: A Lifetime of Commitment to Infants, Children and Families
By Deborah Weatherston, PhD, IMH-E®
This letter, written by Debbie Weatherston and Sheryl Goldberg, was read on behalf of MI-AIMH at the Davies Memorial Lecture.
Doug served the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health and the infant mental health community throughout his long and distinguished service to children and families. While earning his M.S.W. from the University of Michigan in 1979, Doug received clinical training in infant mental health at the Child Development Project where Selma Fraiberg was the director. That experience shaped his commitment – intellectual and heartfelt – to early experiences, the promotion of social and emotional wellbeing, and the unique developmental and relational approach to health through infant mental health. He began his clinical practice in 1980, combining skills as a gifted mental health professional, supervisor, and faculty member at the University of Michigan.
The Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health – MI-AIMH – benefited from Doug’s extraordinary professional commitments. The organization was so fortunate to have him serve in a leadership capacity for many, many years. Among his most important contributions:
- He played an important leadership role in the development of the MI-AIMH Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health, beginning in 1999. He gave generously of his time and attention to the creation of this work force system that provides a framework for the infant and family field in over 23 states and West Australia.
- He was a mainstay in the development of two Reflective Supervision DVD’s, one (2013) for the infant mental health community and a second (2016) for those working as supervisors or consultants in non-mental health infant and early childhood communities
- He was a member of the MI-AIMH Executive Board of Directors from 2012-2016 where his leadership skills were especially important for participation in the strategic planning process that led to the formal creation of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, Inc.®.
- He led MI-AIMH in partnering with the Michigan Department of Human Services in 2014 to develop a Joint Policy, Attachment in Infancy and Best Practice Recommendations for Decision-Making for Infants/Toddlers in Foster Care.
- He partnered with MI-AIMH for many years in the development and delivery of training. Of note, in 2013, an important grant-funded training series in the art of Reflective Supervision, “ Building and Expanding Reflective Practice in Infant Mental Health.”
MI-AIMH honored Doug in 2007 with the distinguished Selma Fraiberg Award for his work on behalf of infants, toddlers and families and the promotion of infant mental health. Fitting for him to have been recognized with this award as that is where he began, at the table with Selma Fraiberg and her colleagues.
In sum, Doug’s presence at so many tables enriched the work of MI-AIMH for decades with his intellect, his clinical understanding, his kindness and his compassion. He was revered by all who worked with him – state policy makers, program directors, trainers, supervisors, clinical practitioners, childcare professionals, nurse family partnership professionals, head start, teachers, infant mental health specialists, members and board members, very young children and families.
He was an engaging writer, a deep clinical thinker, generous with his gifts and a beloved mentor to so many in the infant mental health community. We honor him today, with gratitude for his very significant contributions to infants, toddlers and families and each one of us.