The Infant-Parent Institute

"Salon" on Attachment in Urbana

Michael Trout, Director of The Infant-Parent Institute in Champaign, opens his home to a “Salon on Attachment”.

A "Salon", according to the meagre literature on the subject (see Manthey, M. “A Talk For all Times”, Nursing Forum 45(4), October-December, 2010), is a focused conversation among intelligent people with shared interests, usually with food, usually in someone's home. I learned about the idea from Ms. Manthey (the founder of primary care nursing in this country, whom I sought out over coffee in Minneapolis), who started a Salon on nursing in her home some years ago. It has remained robust, always inviting new ideas and new people, and has inspired the development of other salons on nursing around the country.

For two years, such a Salon, focused on attachment, occurred in my home.  We shared  simple food (and dessert), and great conversation. The real point of the evening was to consider ideas, worries, experiences, research and other thoughts elicited by the core question: "What is on your mind this evening about attachment?".

Our Salon was not a case consultation. I was not the leader of the conversation. We did not give each other advice. Everyone took responsibility to stay focused, keep whining to a minimum, keep talk about broken systems to a minimum, and keep the conversation real, elevated, and on-point. There was minimal structure (based on “circle” concepts) to help us get going, and to help us close the evening.

Heterogeneity was encouraged; we did not wish to just be a choir, singing in one voice. We welcomed a few graduate students (since it seemed likely that youthful thought—even without the benefit of experience—could add greatly to the conversation), and shrinks of all kinds, academics, and people in related professions (public health, occupational therapy, etc.). There was, of course, no cost. We had some remarkable conversations, with attendees driving from the furthest western and southern parts of the state for the evening event.  Many of us found it scintillating to share soup and sophisticated-but-relaxed conversation about tough and intricate clinical/developmental ideas, around the fireplace or on the back porch. 

We began a new Salon, also in my home, on January 18 (2018).  This one has been more focused, as we took on the reading of drafts for the new book,This Hallowed Ground:  Four Decades in Infant Mental Health.   Upon completion of the book in the summer of 2019, we faced a dilemma about how/whether to proceed.  Deciding we could not give up the joy of intellectual stimulation we have found with each other, we committed to continue indefinitely, with rotating topics but an identical format.  We meet at 6:15PM, share soup and bread, and work around the fire (or, in better weather, on our back porch) until 7:45PM. These stimulating discussions about the intricacies of infant mental health, arising out of real cases, have been stimulating to me as a clinician, and an enormous help to me as an author. .

For more information, contact Mr. Trout at