Infant and early childhood mental health consultants work with program leadership, staff, children, and families to strengthen family well-being. Infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC) is most effective when it is integrated in programs—in planning and service delivery.
The skills and approaches of the mental health consultant are well suited to building and enhancing programs’ family engagement efforts. These skills can complement and extend the capacity of staff to better serve children and to partner with families and communities.
Mental health consultants are unique in the way they approach their work. Rather than providing direct service, they use a “consultative stance” to support staff in developing mutually respectful relationships (Johnston & Brinamen, 2006). This stance is effective in engaging and working with families as well.
Mental health consultants build relationships with staff through regular, goal-directed interactions that occur over time. Every interaction presents an opportunity to work on goals and solidify relationships (Cohen & Kaufmann, 2005). Mental health consultants can use this resource to further develop their IECMHC skills and approaches to their work in:
- Planning for mental health consultation
- Supporting staff in working with families
- Enhancing professional growth, development, and self-care
National Centers:Parent, Family and Community Engagement
Last Updated: January 23, 2020