Infant Observation 1

Subject PSYT90028 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 02-Mar-2015 to 31-May-2015
Assessment Period End 26-Jun-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 13-Mar-2015
Census Date 31-Mar-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 08-May-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 33 contact hours
Total Time Commitment:

Approx. 170 hours

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:

Students who undertake Infant Observation 1 are expected to enrol in Infant Observation 2 in the following semester.

Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Not offered in 2015
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry. The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the 3 Disability Liaison Unit website : 4


Assoc Prof Frances Thomson-Salo


Academic Contact
A/Prof Frances Thomson Salo

Administrative Contact
Victoria Kingsley


Subject Overview:

Students will undertake an infant observation (Bick Method) where a baby is observed in his or her own home for one hour per week making detailed process notes and analysis to be presented in turn at the seminar. Details of observations are to be recorded in a log book and students will circulate their recorded data to the other seminar participants and leader.

This subject will cover:

  • contribution of infant observation to developmental and psychodynamic theories
  • therapeutic effects of infant observation on the infant and care-giver
  • relevance of infant observation to therapeutic work in other settings and countertransference and its use.

Students should note that attending and undertaking activities in this subject will not be possible without at current Working with Children Check.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will:

  • develop observation skills which are fundamental to all therapeutic work
  • gain an appreciation of their own responses and how to use these in working with infants and their families
  • develop and maintain the relationship of a student observer with an infant and their parent/s thus developing the skills to maintain an equidistant stance (i.e. equally available to the infant and the adults) when working clinically with infants and their families
  • be able to identify and reflect on the strong affects elicited when working with infants and their families
  • develop the skills to identify an infant’s communications and think about the infant’s subjective emotional experience
  • be attuned to their own counter- transference reactions to the content of the observations
  • critically think about and integrate the different points of view of offered by other seminar participants on the material presented from their observations
  • critically appraise and clearly communicate the observational evidence for their view of the infant’s perspective in class discussions

  • Satisfactory commencement and progress of an infant observation (Bick method) documented in a log book completed weekly of 3000 words total, due end of semester with mid-semester feedback (worth 40%)
  • Student presentation of their observations during the semester, rostered to occur between weeks 3 and 11 (worth 20%)
  • Reflective essay of 2000 words, due end of semester (worth 40%)
Prescribed Texts:

Miller, L. et al. (eds.) (1989). Closely Observed Infants. Duckworth Press. London.

Harris, M. (1987). Some Notes on Maternal Containment in Good Enough Mothering, In Collected Papers of Martha Harris and Esther Bick (ed) M.H. Williams. Clunie Press. London.

Rustin, M. (1988). ‘Encountering Primitive Anxieties: Some Aspects of Infant Observation as a Preparation for Clinical Work with Children and Families’. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 14 (2).

Bolton, C. (2000). Granny goes to Baby Obs. Australian Journal of Psychotherapy. [reprinted in Infant Observation, Volume 10, Issue 2 August 2007 , pages 129 – 141]

Magagna, J. (1987). ‘Three Years of Infant Observation with Mrs. Bick’. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, Vol 13 (1).

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

It is required that applicants have a Working With Children Check before commencing this subject.

Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Mental Health Science
Master of Mental Health Science

Download PDF version.