National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Family Readiness for Consultation

family readinessFamilies must also be "ready" for consultation, as well. Family members (as well as others) often have preconceived notions about what "mental health" means and may be resistant to bringing in a "mental health consultant" to work with them and their child. Especially when working across cultural boundaries, it is important to work closely with parents so that they understand that having a mental health consultant work with them doesn't mean that they are not good parents. As program director, you have an important role to play in helping to reduce the stigma that is sometimes associated with the words "mental health" and to work with your program staff to find ways to educate and communicate with families about the role of the consultant. A good strategy is to invite your mental health consultant to make a presentation (ideally, this could be a co-presentation with a trusted program staffperson) at a "parent night" event and/or Policy Council meeting. This presentation should include information about your program's broader, more holistic approaches and definition of "mental health" and describe the consultant's role in the program.

Family readiness, however, also includes a commitment on the part of the family to working with the consultant on things that may be challenging either in the classroom or at home. Families may be more "ready" for consultation if they feel that their voices are heard and that they have been involved in/communicated with about issues involving their child. Families may also be more ready to accept consultation if they view the consultant's presence in the classroom as normative and not stigmatizing. To the extent that part of the consultant's role is supporting all children, this will help parents be more accepting if more targeted intervention approaches are required.




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