Working in a mental health outpatient clinic for youth, I noticed that the parents of many of the children and adolescents that were admitted told us that they already experienced problems with their child from a very young age on. I came into contact with the Infant Mental Health (IMH) vision, and this way of working with very young children and their parents felt right to me. In the years that followed, I became an IMH specialist myself, and gained experience with parent-child treatments, that were focused on treating the parent-child relationship, a solid basis for the further development of the child.
My interest in the young child and his/her parent stayed unchanged, but I did make a change in work field by moving from clinical work to research. I did a PhD on the consequences of very preterm birth for the development of the child, the parent-child relationship, and the perception of vulnerability of the child by the parents. In this period, I had my first baby, and I experienced the added value of mindfulness in parenthood. Mindfulness helped me to be attentive for example while feeding my daughter, and to be aware of my feelings of love in these moments. Mindfulness also helped me to stay aware of how I was feeling during the day, and to take seriously my own tiredness and boundaries, and to take care of myself as a mother.
After finishing my PhD, I found a job at UvA minds, an academic outpatient clinic for parents and their children, where I could combine clinical work and research. At UvA minds, mindfulness trainings are offered to both parents and children with a variety of problems or challenges. I did a Mindful Parenting teacher training with Susan Bögels and Joke Hellemans, and realized immediately that this was the way I wanted to work with parents and children. Being there in a friendly and attentive way, and offering something they could continue with by themselves. Not telling them what to do, but supporting them to find their own way. I also realized that mindfulness could be very valuable to parents after the birth of a baby. I thought it would be good if parents would be able to follow the training with parents with a child in the same age group, for whom the similar themes played a role. The idea was to embed the mindful parenting in the way of thinking about parents and young children I learned as an IMH specialist, and to give the training in the presence of the babies. I developed Mindful with your baby together with Margo Rigterink, Marja Rexwinkel, and Susan Bögels. A few years later, we developed Mindful with your toddler, also with the help of Gabrielle Frederiks and Petra Holtkamp.
My current work activities exist of giving training is a mental health context, doing research on the effectiveness of the trainings, and giving teacher trainings in Mindful with your baby (and in the future Mindful with your toddler).