National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation
   

Element 1: Respect and Trust (continued)

Tips for How to Explore Culture and Beliefs (continued)

Review the vignette of a consultant-parent conversation below. What are some of the things this consultant learned about the family's culture and beliefs?

Consultant: "Thank you for allowing me to visit you and Michael in your home today Mrs. Li. I enjoyed our first visit when we had a chance to talk about what I do and how we might partner together with Michael's teacher to help support him at home and in his Head Start classroom How are you feeling since we last talked? You mentioned that your mother wasn't happy about Michael getting help."

Parent: "My mother feels issues need to be kept within the family. I assured her that this was all confidential and that we would work as a team, with her included. She smiled when I said that. I think she is used to being the one I turn to for help."

Consultant: "We will turn to her for help, she knows so much about Michael and parenting! I am glad she is okay with our teaming. I hope she can be at our next meeting. We all agreed we want Michael to feel safe so he can better express how he feels when he is at Head Start. I wanted to learn more about how you help Michael and your family to feel safe and secure so we can bring the same types of experiences into his classroom setting. Can you tell me what you hope for Michael in the classroom?"

Parent: "I want Michael to be able to have someone he can go to for help and a hug. Right now he doesn't seem to want to go to any one person for anything."

Consultant: "Who does Michael go to at home, how do you calm him?"

Parent: "He comes to me, his father, his older brother or his grandmother. We all know that when he is fussy he just wants to be close by and he wants his stuffed car toy. He won't even let us wash it! Sometimes he likes it when I sing to him."

Consultant: "What kinds of things do you sing to him? "

Parent: "Songs my mother sang to me as a child, mainly Chinese nursery rhymes. I also had a stuffed toy I carried around; I guess Michael and I are a lot alike! "

Consultant: "It sounds like you know how to comfort Michael when he needs it. What language do you use with Michael when he is upset?"

Parent: "Actually I never really thought about this but I speak in Chinese. It is exactly what my mother did with me."

Consultant: "I wonder if some of these things you have mentioned may work in Michael's classroom?"

Parent: "He could take his toy to school and I could share some of the songs with his teacher. I am not sure how the teacher could use Chinese?"

Consultant: "Well it seems so important to your family so I think it is important to talk more with you and Michael's teacher together to do some brainstorming, I am sure we can come up with some ideas."

In the conversation above the consultant began to gather information related to family roles, strategies that are used within the home for the child and past child rearing of the parent. Cultural insight happens gradually and is an ongoing process within the consultative approach.

Use the box below for any notes or reflections you may wish to jot down.

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