National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Key Elements of the Consultative Stance


mother and child Element 1: The centrality of relationships — The consultant holds the theoretical and developmental perspective that relationships and the interaction between caregiving adults and children have a primary role in the social/emotional development and mental health of young children.

Illustration: Renee, a home visitor for ABC Early Head Start, requested that Jasmine, the mental health consultant already familiar with Shelby and her 10 month old daughter Niya, observe and interact with them during a socialization time at ABC Early Head Start. When Jasmine visited the center, she observed Shelby sitting near her young daughter, Niya who was playing with a set of soft blocks. Shelby looked distracted and didn't notice as the child picked up a block and extended her arm to her mother. Jasmine approached the dyad, greeted Shelby, and said "Oh look how well your daughter can hold a block...and look, she wants to give it to you!" As the mother turned, took the block, and smiled, the child wiggled and squealed with delight. Jasmine said, "Niya learns more about the world around her when she plays with you."

Element 2: Parallel process as an organizing principle — The consultant takes the perspective that all relationships influence one another, and a positive experience in the relationship between the consultant and the early care and educator, positively influences the relationship between the early care and education provider and the children in his or her care and their families.

Illustration: After observing and supporting the interaction between Shelby and Niya, Jasmine talked to Renee, who visits and works with Shelby on a regular basis. Jasmine inquired about Shelby and Niya's interaction during home visits. Renee expressed concern and described how she had been trying to support more interactive and positive play between Shelby and Niya. Jasmine built on her positive relationship with Renee, acknowledging her excellent observations and appropriate efforts at intervention as well as offering her support in her work with Shelby and Niya. Renee began to feel more energized about her work with Shelby and Niya.




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