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Dr. Hanna Alonim – Founder & Head of The Mifne Center

Dr. Hanna A. Alonim has a Ph.D. in mental health from England's Ruskin University, Cambridge. She is an expert in developmental disorders on the autism spectrum and mental health in infancy. She developed and founded the Mifne approach, and has headed the Mifne Center for treatment, training and research since 1987. Dr. Alonim has clinical experience since 1972. She has lectured and taught at the University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University, and the Kibbutz Seminary College, at the University of Basel and Zurich in Switzerland, at UCLA University in the USA, at the University of Iasi in Romania, and at Beijing University in China. Her research is published in international journals.


Dr. Alonim founded and heads the school for the training of therapists based on the Mifne approach in the Continuing Studies Department of the School of Social Work, Bar-Ilan University, since 2001.

In 2007, following a groundbreaking study, Alonim developed the ESPASSI© tool for the early detection of Prodrome of autism among infants, which is being studied all over the world, and established the Unit for the Detection of Autism in Infants at the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.


Alonim is a member of the ICF Committee for the Classification of Functioning for Autism, on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO). She is also a member of the Helsinki Committee for Medical Research at Rivka Ziv Hospital in Safed.

Dr. Hanna Alonim – Founder & Head of The Mifne Center


The prevalence of the phenomenon of autism has radically increased throughout the world in the last three decades, now amounting to 2% of the general population. Although there are not yet sufficient empirical data regarding the causes of autism, the latest neuro-biological consideration of the autistic syndrome emphasizes the important role of epigenetics – a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In recent years, over 1200 genes have been found to be associated with the autism spectrum, which when fully deciphered may advance science in this field. New understandings in the perception of autism have led to the establishment of treatment programs and kindergartens that deal with communication disorders, but sufficient attention has still not been given to prevention programs in infancy.


Raising a child with autism is a challenge for all family members. Children with autism have needs that require deep understanding and insight from their parents and therapists. My experience with thousands of families has taught me that the internal resources of the family are critical to the development of their children. The therapists, on the other hand, despite their great importance, only serve as a guiding bridge and help the parents achieve their goals. This perception is the rationale on which The Mifne approach is based.


The Mifne Center was established in 1987 and was the first institution to treat young toddlers diagnosed on the autism spectrum, in Israel and in the world. The unique contribution of The Mifne Center stems from its systemic perception that sees the infant as an integral part of the family system in which each individual has a reciprocal effect on the entire family. For this reason, the treatment approach was developed involving intensive family therapy over a period of three weeks. During this period, the needs of each child and of the entire family are identified and they are given tools with which they can continue to apply the treatment in their homes. Aftercare treatment takes place under the guidance of The Mifne Center clinical staff and with the help of skilled therapists, trained at the Mifne School for Therapists, at Bar Ilan University.

Thirty-five years of observation, treatment and follow-up supported by research on many hundreds of children and their families, from all sectors and cultures both in Israel and abroad have led to the development of decisive fundamental clinical assumptions, which have had international influence. The findings of our flagship study on the subject of early detection of autism conducted at the Mifne Center over more than a decade indicated that there are eight symptoms through which we can already predict risk for the development of autism in the first year of life. Consequently, we developed a screening tool for early detection, ESPASSI©, which was piloted at the Tel Aviv Medical Center and is studied and used today in other countries. We are proud of our universal contribution and the establishment of additional treatment centers working according to the Mifne approach in different countries.


I have often been asked what causes changes in family members and especially in the infants. Well, my premise is based on the following four elements and their combination:

  • Early detection and the very young age of the child in treatment

  • The holistic therapeutic approach, which addresses all aspects of the infant’s development.

  • The systemic perception which treats the difficulties and anxieties that characterize families who are in ongoing stress and uncertainty.

  • The work of skilled and dedicated therapists who are invested in this process


I would like to express my gratitude to the dear people at the MIfne Switzerland Foundation who have been supporting us for many years and made this development possible; to the Mifne Board members who have been accompanying us for 35 years on a fully voluntary basis; to our dear ones, the many families in Israel and abroad, and to the dedicated Mifne team

that has proven every day, that it is indeed possible to make a turning point!

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