National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Element 3: Supporting Resilience (continued)

There are many things you can do to explore the family's ecological picture and encourage them to be an active part in positive change. These include:

Asking a question like “Where are you headed?” can orient the family to a life that may not include the current problem and can provide clues about how to get there.

  • Help build a positive vision of future. Conversations about possibilities allow the family to step out from under the weight of everyday problems. When faced with a crisis or an abundance of daily hassles, those with a future vision may cope better.
  • Affirm your support. Make sure the family knows that you are there to support their goals and work with them through the process of consultation. Concentrate on the family’s goals and solutions to overcoming barriers to meet goals.
  • Help the family develop a plan to reduce effects of external stressors. Partnering with the family includes helping all family members translate their concerns into specific needs that can be discussed and resolved. Encouraging parents to seek help and take steps to combat stress. Parents are not always aware how their ability to cope with stress may impact their capacity to parent and their children's development. When parents identify and communicate what worries them most, there is an opportunity to facilitate their exploration of coping strategies and resources to begin to deal with the stress.
    • Evaluate which stressors are producing the most disruption of family interaction and routines. Explore family stressors with families such as; leisure time, work/employment, social networks and community involvement. Include obvious stressors such as lack of transportation, childcare, work schedules, or finances. Also include less-often-discussed issues such as mental or physical health issues of other family members.
    • Facilitate identification of resources and strategies to reduce the impact of stressors. Some needs are obvious to all family members and to providers. Other needs, such as marital counseling or substance abuse treatment, may become apparent when one family member expresses concern about another. As families identify needs and possible solutions, be ready to link the family to necessary resources, service providers, and advocates. Have available a list of local community resources who can assist families in meeting their own needs. Determine whether additional mental health referrals are necessary to meet the family’s needs.
    • Identify family and other natural supports. Help family members identify their own social support network to reduce a sense of isolation. Make available a list of community resources (i.e., churches, provider organizations, and informal support networks, including those available online) that might assist parents/caregivers in building their network.

By recognizing the strengths of the family and looking through the lens of their lives, consultants can advocate for families and help them find strategies that fit into their world and can lead to more sustainable change.




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