The SEED Center for the Study of Early Emotional Development, led by Dr. Dana Shai, concludes a year of significant activity, groundbreaking research and intriguing collaborations, and is bursting with plans for its second year.
In line with the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo's (MTA) vision of harnessing its academic resources for the benefit of Israeli society, the year 2019 saw the launch of the SEED Center, which is dedicated to investigating the impact of the parent-child relationship on infants' emotional development. SEED Center aims to promote the mental health of infants and young children by fostering their relationships with their parents, caregivers, siblings and friends.
A lot has been written about the importance of early childhood development to the subsequent years in one’s life. The Center, led by Dr. Dana Shai, combines rigorous, advanced scientific research, the development and implementation of innovative therapeutic programs, the provision of professional training, and the promotion of public policy in the field of early childhood development.
The CEED Center now strides confidently into its second year of operations while leaning on the four founding pillars of MTA: applied research, training, community outreach, and harnessing the knowledge and experience gains to bring about practical and regulatory changes.
"There are academic courses today that are related to early emotional development of children," Dr. Shai explains. "Many of these courses combine academic theory with research and field work. It gives students a comprehensive and integrative academic understanding of how the field is relevant to daily life. Students go into the field, experience the work of a researcher and a clinical psychologist already during their first degree. In their second degree, students from the clinical and developmental tracks also become involved and do dissertation and thesis work in areas related to early emotional development."
One of the most important plans for the future of the SEED Center is work with the community. "We continue to promote our community clinic, which, on the one hand, allows the local population to receive guidance, diagnostic and treatment services for infants and their families, and, on the other hand, enables students and graduates to specialize and obtain practical experience in these areas. This is the realization of MTA's founding vision – creating a standard of education excellence while creating a reciprocal relationship with the local, heterogeneous community – with all its complexities."
"In general, SEED Center works closely with the community and is attentive to its needs," stresses Dr. Shai. "We are inundated with inquiries from the field: from government offices, municipalities, clinics and institutes that provide developmental services as well as private bodies that want to work with us and need services or knowledge. In the last year, since the successful opening conference, we have not stopped receiving requests for collaborations. SEED is evolving according to the suggested directions. We do not try to present a closed and ready agenda, but try to listen and to adapt ourselves to the demands in the field. We greatly desire to gain academic, research-based knowledge about early emotional development of children and the importance of the parent-infant relationship."
In addition to the studies conducted at the SEED Center and the submitted research grant applications, SEED also trains professionals in the field of early technological development. For example, SEED Center has become a joint strategic partner of the Joint in the 1000-Days Project. "We, together with the Joint and the University of Haifa, equip professionals who work with infants and parents in the Bedouin community. We train them to adopt an approach that sees the parent-infant relationship as essential for all aspects of healthy development. They will train people who will visit family homes and help fathers and mothers advance their relationship with their infants."