Heather Lee Leap
Graduate Certificate in Infant Toddler Mental Health
BA Child, Youth & Family Studies
Minor in Women's Studies
Certified Family Life Educator - Provisional
As a graduate student in social work, and a future maternal and early childhood mental health practitioner, I am determined to bring mindful compassion, a practice of wondering, and an ongoing commitment to personal and professional growth to my future career. I seek to educate, advocate, and to directly support infants, young children, youth, 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, I have built a strong base of knowledge about infant 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 when I bring curiosity to my interactions, and I try to bring 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 - anticipated 2022
Graduate Certificate in Infant Toddler Mental Health -
Bachelor of Arts - Child, Youth, & Family Studies;
Minor - Women’s Studies - June 2019
Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.
WHERE I’VE WORKED
October 2020 - Present
Family Support & Intake Specialist Intern
Children's Center, Oregon City, Oregon
September 2018 - Present
Peer and Graduate Mentor/Teaching Assistant
University Studies Department, Portland State University
November 2015 - September 2019
Additional Education & Training
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)
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
Yoga & Infant Massage
Wellness & Words...
My commitment to graduate school has reduced the time I devote to my small business teaching mindful yoga, writing, and parenting classes. Covid-19 has further limited my opportunity to work with families. However, I am available to work remotely, or safely distanced when possible, with families interested in 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, and adapt an ancient practice to your unique caregiver-child relationship.
Family Yoga connects kids and their adults to their imaginations and one another.
Through story and writing, children, youth, and families learn self-expression and confidence while building creativity and connection with others.
Educational & Professional Goals
Eyes to the future...
As I begin my second year of a three-year MSW program, I hope to apply my past experience and the knowledge I am gaining in my coursework to a generalist field placement serving children and families. The social service landscape has changed dramatically as a result of Covid-19, but I remain optimistic that there is much to be learned during this challenging and divisive time.
Learning that children’s mental and emotional development can be affected in utero has sparked my interests in interpersonal neurobiology and integrated behavioral health. 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 particularly interested in perinatal mental health and how support for families both pre- and postnatally can improve outcomes for infants otherwise at risk for emotional or developmental challenges. At the same time, the ITMH Certificate program has increased my commitment to infant and family mental and emotional health promotion, and the need for prevention services.
Prior to the ITMH Certificate training, I had never thought of working in a hospital setting, though I have past volunteer and parental experience in the NICU. I anticipate advocating for a maternal/infant integrated behavioral health field placement for my advanced (final) year of graduate school, 2021-2022.
Five years from now, I hope to have earned enough direct service and parenting education hours to qualify for the level 4 Parent Educator recognition through the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative as well as full certification as a Family Life Educator through the National Council on Family Relations. I expect to have met the requirements for Infant Family Specialist, or possibly Infant Mental Health Specialist Endorsement. I am passionate about all levels of service, promotion, prevention, intervention, and treatment, so I would like to be in clinical practice as an LCSW, while also teaching parent education classes, and working collaboratively with other practitioners.