National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Three Perspectives

Everyone has a culture. Learning about the cultural context of each party is especially necessary when the consultant, family, and staff do not share the same culture and language. However, it is important to remember that even persons sharing the same race or ethnicity can differ in their cultural backgrounds and perspectives, and persons that speak the same language may encounter nuances that challenge communication. Even when there is a "cultural and linguistic match" or no perceived cultural or linguistic differences between the consultant, families, and staff, it is still important to learn about each party's unique, culturally-based values, norms, and behaviors.

  • Families bring their cultural perspective and every-day-experiences raising their child as described above. They also come to the consultation process with specific perceptions of what constitutes appropriate behavior, the meaning of mental health, expectations related to the role of teachers and mental health professionals, and possible stigma related to needing help for concerns about their child. For example; families may be uncertain or reluctant to engage in consultation or recommended interventions due to their view of the "problem", ideas about what might help their child, as well as concerns about potential sharing of information or involvement of other agencies such as child welfare or immigration.
  • Early care and education staff bring their personal and professional cultural perspectives. They come to the consultative process with personal values, beliefs and practices related to family and raising children, the meaning of mental health (and possibly stigma), and experience interacting with families of diverse cultures. Their professional perspective is based on their role, training, and years of experience and may also reflect the culture of the ECE organization in which they work. The ECE organizational cultural values, beliefs, and practices, for example, may include how care is provided, developmentally appropriate practices, learning and behavioral expectations, parent involvement, and parent-teacher relationships.
  • The consultant, like the ECE staff, brings his or her personal and professional cultural perspectives, including the culture of the organization in which they work. Like the others, consultants are influenced by their experience in their own family and their personal values. In addition, consultants have had extensive education, training, supervision, and work experience that influence their values, beliefs, and practices in consultation. For example, their professional discipline, theoretical preferences, consultation experience, and the organization in which they work will influence how they observe, understand, and approach their work with young children, families, and providers to promote social and emotional development and address behavioral concerns.




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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation