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Infant well-being is intrinsically linked to maternal physical and emotional well-being. Internationally health services have implemented policies to identify women at risk of mental health problems and developed effective care pathways. The aim of this paper is to describe how perinatal and infant mental health clinicians perceive their role and the attachment-based interventions they use in their work. The study comes from a larger mixed methods study, which examined two specialist perinatal and infant mental health services in New South Wales (Australia). Two hundred and forty-four medical records were reviewed, and six perinatal and infant mental health clinicians participated in in-depth semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed by content and thematic analysis. One overarching theme, modelling a secure base and three supporting themes, enhancing reflective capacity, enhancing emotional regulation and enhancing empathy emerged from the analysis. These findings demonstrate how perinatal and infant mental health clinicians use attachment theory to inform practice by modelling “holding” and being a secure-base for women. They also provide a clearer understanding of perinatal mental health practice and can be used to inform educational programs for multidisciplinary mental health professionals particularly those working with women and infants.

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Journal Article

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