Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Aug 15, 2022

Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health: An Interview with Dr. Barbara Stroud

Curt and Katie interview Dr. Barbara Stroud on infant and early childhood mental health. We explore what therapists need to know about working with very young children, including the latest brain science and the very earliest developmental stages. We talk about the importance of children being safe, seen, heard, and helped. We also look at the importance of culture and how to support under-resourced families.  

Transcripts for this episode will be available at!

An Interview with Dr. Barbara Stroud

Barbara Stroud, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with over three decades worth of culturally informed clinical practice in early childhood development and mental health. She is a founding organizer and the inaugural president (2017-2019) of the California Association for Infant Mental Health, a ZERO TO THREE Fellow, and holds prestigious endorsements as an Infant and Family Mental Health Specialist/Reflective Practice Facilitator Mentor. In 2018 Dr. Stroud was honored with the Bruce D. Perry Spirit of the Child Award. Embedded in all of her trainings and consultations are the activities of reflective practice, demonstrating cultural attunement, and holding a social justice lens in the work. Dr. Stroud’s book “How to Measure a Relationship” [published 2012] is improving infant mental health practices around the globe and is now available in Spanish. Her second book, an Amazon best seller, “Intentional Living: finding the inner peace to create successful relationships” walks the reader through a deeper understanding of how their brain influences relationships. Both volumes are currently available on Amazon. Additionally, Dr. Stroud is a contributing author to the text “Infant and early childhood mental health: Core concepts and clinical practice” edited by Kristie Brandt, Bruce Perry, Steve Seligman, & Ed Tronick.

Dr. Stroud received her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from Nova Southeastern University, and she has worked largely with children in urban communities with severe emotional disturbance.  Dr. Stroud’s professional career path has allowed her to work across service delivery silos supporting professionals in mental health, early intervention (part c), child welfare, early care and education, family court staff, primary care, and other arenas. She is highly regarded and has been a key player in the inception and implementation of cutting-edge service delivery to children Prenatal to five and their families; her innovative approaches have won national awards. More specifically, Dr. Stroud is a former preschool director, a non-public school administrator, director of infant mental health services and agency training coordinator. She has held an adjunct faculty position at California State Long Beach and maintained a faculty position in the Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship for 12 years. Currently, Dr. Stroud’s primary focus is professional training and private consultation from an anti-racist lens, with a focus on social justice, in the field of infant mental health. Dr. Stroud remains steadfast in her mission to ‘changing the world – one relationship at a time’.


In this podcast episode, we talk about mental health services for infants and young children

Curt and Katie continue to identify gaps in typical therapist training. One such gap is working with children 0-5. We reached out to Dr. Barbara Stroud, expert in infant and early childhood to help us learn what therapists need to know about this age group.  

What is infant and early childhood mental health?

“What I often say to parents and providers is, it's our job to be the bigger cortex for the dysregulated midbrain. So, your little kid is not bad, they're not misbehaving, their dysregulated midbrain is doing the best it can. And we have to step in and be the cortex that holds that dysregulation and nurtures them through this process.” – Dr. Barbara Stroud

  • Looking at big feelings and social and emotional development
  • The current brain science that is impacting infant and early childhood mental health
  • How adults impact infant developing brains

What are the basics that therapists should know when working with children under 5 years old?

  • The importance of dyadic therapy
  • Parent training
  • Social emotional developmental stages
  • The damage of punishment on the development of an authentic self

What infants need to love themselves, have healthy development

“Let me give you something that I give parents and I give childcare providers and I give therapists as a way of thinking about one simple thing you can do and always remember that will support your child's social emotional health: keep them safe, make them feel seen, heard, and helped.” – Dr. Barbara Stroud

  • Infants want to be safe, seen, heard, and helped
  • Co-regulation and holding the big feeling with the child
  • The impacts of this work on adults
  • Transgenerational work – we treat the parent in the way that we would like the parent to treat the child
  • How to support parents in healing their own wounds

Therapy Interventions for infants and children under five years old

  • Play therapy is complex and advanced and requires training and supervision
  • Before children can think symbolically or have words, play is not effective
  • Attunement and attachment work

The impact of the pandemic on social emotional development

  • Developmental delays seen in research of kids related to the pandemic
  • The way children can catch up developmentally
  • The impact of parents’ stress responses on availability
  • How the lack of interaction with age-mates impacts development
  • The responses to stress based on these delays

Cultural impacts on early childhood development

  • Questions to ask about cultural and family traditions
  • The stories to explore and the importance of stories and practices
  • How to explore areas of inequity and disparities
  • Understanding our power as professionals

Interventions for families with very young children

“We can take everyday tasks and turn them into not just nurturing moments, but therapeutic moments… take nurturing tasks that parents have to do already (it's already something they're going to do) and turn it into a therapeutic moment.” – Dr. Barbara Stroud

  • Helping families to identify what they are able to do to make changes
  • The importance of predictability for families with a lot of chaos
  • How therapists without kids can work with parents
  • How parenting is an individual journey
  • The importance of loving kids and being emotionally available to kids


Our Generous Sponsor for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:


Thrizer is a new modern billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible AND clinicians should earn what they are worth. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially save them hundreds every month, with no extra work on your end. Every time you bill a client through Thrizer, an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to the client's insurance. From there, Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly, directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by check, confusion around benefits, and obscurity with reimbursement status, they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick to get set up and it works great in completement with EHR systems. Their team is super helpful and responsive, and the founder is actually a long-time therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times The best part is you don't need to give up your rate. They charge a standard 3% payment processing fee!

Thrizer lets you become more accessible while remaining in complete control of your practice. A better experience for your clients during therapy means higher retention. Money won't be the reason they quit on therapy. Sign up using if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free! Sign up for Thrizer with code 'moderntherapists' for 1 month of no credit card fees or payment processing fees! That’s right - you will get one month of no payment processing fees, meaning you earn 100% of your cash rate during that time.


Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Dr. Barbara Stroud | Changing The World One Relationship at a Time

Using Reflective Practice to Examine Microaggressions

The ABC's of Trauma with Dr. Chandra Ghosh Ippen

YouTube: Dr. Barbara Stroud

Facebook: Barbara Stroud Training

LinkedIn: Dr. Barbara Stroud

Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Crafting Your Authentic Message: An interview with Mercedes Samudio, LCSW

Navigating Pregnancy as a Therapist: An interview with Emily Sanders, LMFT

Infertility and Pregnancy Loss: An interview with Tracy Gilmour-Nimoy, LMFT, PMH-C

Field-Based Private Practice: An Interview with Megan Costello, LMFT


Who we are:

Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making "dad jokes" and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt's youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


Buy Me A Coffee

Podcast Homepage

Therapy Reimagined Homepage






Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano