Heather Lee Leap,
Master of Social Work
Heather Lee Leap
Graduate Certificate in Infant Toddler Mental Health
BA Child, Youth & Family Studies
Minor in Women's Studies
Certified Educator of Infant Massage/Certified Infant Massage Instructor
As an aspiring child and family play therapist, with a focus on maternal and early childhood mental health, I bring mindful compassion, a practice of wondering, and an ongoing commitment to personal and professional growth to my work. I seek to educate, advocate, and to directly support infants, young children, and families. Through my early training and roles as a prenatal massage therapist, infant massage instructor, and La Leche League Leader, and by completing the PSU Graduate Certificate in Infant Toddler Mental Health (ITMH), I have built a strong base of knowledge about infant, early childhood, and parent development.
Formal continuing education is one key to professional growth, but I feel that the children, families, and communities with whom I work are my primary teachers. Parents and caregivers are the experts on their children. They may need information, resources, and tools I can offer, but I must learn from them how best to present those tools. Part of my philosophy of wondering requires being comfortable admitting I don't have all the answers. This vulnerability often creates a space that invites more open communication, which builds trust. I learn and grow when I bring curiosity to my interactions, and I invite others into that space of wondering. I embrace the infant mental health value of reflective practice and welcome the opportunity to reflect with colleagues about our work, and to seek support and supervision from mentors.
I am committed to the fields of perinatal and early childhood mental health because our early care and experiences shape our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Early stress can lead to difficulty with learning, developing relationships, behavior, and overall health. Similarly, safe, loving, and enriched environments help children reach their full potential. I believe in nurturing primary attachment relationships, nurturing families, and building relationships across systems that help everyone thrive.
Education & Training
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
Master of Social Work - 2019 - 2022
Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.
Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy - anticipated March 2023
Antioch University, Seattle, Washington
Graduate Certificate in Infant Toddler Mental Health -
2019 - 2020 - Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.
Bachelor of Arts - Child, Youth, & Family Studies;
Minor - Women’s Studies - 2017 - 2019 - Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.
Memberships & Certifications
Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM)
- Infant Massage USA
Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI)
- International Association of Infant Massage
AWA Affiliate - certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as
described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press
Member - American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children - (APSAC)
Member - ORIMHA - Oregon Infant Mental Health Association
Member - Zero to Three
Additional Education & Training
WHERE I’VE WORKED
November 2021 - July 2022
Central City Concern - Letty Owings Center
October 2020 - September 2021
Family Support Specialist - temporary, May - Sept 2021
Family Support Intern, October 2020 - May 2021
Children's Center, Oregon City, Oregon
September 2018 - March 2022
Peer and Graduate Mentor/Teaching Assistant
University Studies Department, Portland State University
November 2015 - September 2019
Owner, Wellness & Words,
Mindful Yoga, Writing, & Parenting Classes
June - September 2018
EMERJ - SafeNow, Violence Prevention Education
March 2017 - September 2017
AmeriCorps Member - Ready, Set, Go! Program
Metropolitan Family Service
40+ hours of trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness teacher training through the Daya Foundation, Street Yoga, and Living Yoga (2017 - 2018)
Stewards of Children Training, through Children’s Center, Oregon City, OR (2017, 2020)
Yogajoy 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training, with Sarahjoy Marsh (2016)
Yoga Calm Youth Yoga Instructor Levels I-III; Next Generation Kids Yoga Instructor ages 3-12.
Yoga, Infant Massage, and Writing
Wellness & Words...
Mindfulness, yoga, writing, and parenting education are some of my passions. Please contact me for private or small group classes.
Infant massage embodies all the components of bonding and developing secure attachments. During massage, you and your baby will connect through all your senses: sight, touch, hearing, smell, even taste. (Babies are always putting their hands - and toes - in their mouths!)
In a 5-week class, you will learn so much more than a series of strokes. You will learn to communicate your love to your baby through touch, develop skills to read your baby's unique cues, strengthen your attachment, and deepen your relationship with your infant.
Family Yoga connects kids and their adults to their imaginations and one another. I look forward to integrating yoga and mindfulness into child-centered play therapy.
Through story and writing, children, youth, and families learn self-expression and confidence while building creativity and connection with others.
I am an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press. I will begin offering Mindful Writing Workshops through Portland Community College Community Education in January 2023.
Educational & Professional Goals
Eyes to the future...
I recently earned my Master of Social Work degree, and am completing a year-long Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy. Building upon a foundation of Child-Centered Play Therapy through a neurobiological lens, this training will include Advanced Play Therapy, Sand Tray, and Filial Therapy with a focus on Landreth's Child-Parent Relationship Therapy.
Learning that children’s mental and emotional development can be affected in utero sparked my interest in interpersonal neurobiology and how physiological regulation is necessary to resolve emotional and behavioral issues. As a long-time mindfulness practitioner, I am always seeking ways to bring mindfulness and self-care into my work supporting families and communities. I am currently exploring how Buddhist teachings and Buddhist Psychology can support my work with families. I am particularly interested in perinatal mental health, Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), and how support for families both pre- and postnatally can improve outcomes for infants and young children otherwise at risk for emotional or developmental challenges.
In the future I plan to pursue advanced clinical training in infant and early childhood mental health, including CPP, and will be working toward endorsement as an Infant Mental Health Specialist and Registered Play Therapist. I am passionate about all levels of service: promotion, prevention, intervention, and treatment, so I would like to work in a collaborative multidisciplinary team where I have the flexibility to support families and communities through clinical practice and education.