Key Skills

Key Skills

Family sitting on park bench

In addition to sound knowledge in key content areas, there are certain skills that are associated with being an effective mental health consultant. These include the ability to:

  • Build strong, collaborative relationships
  • Conduct observations and use findings appropriately
  • Work effectively with young children in group settings
  • Communicate effectively (i.e., in a clear and engaging way) in formal and informal situations (e.g., presentations, one-on-one conversations)
  • Develop individualized strategies to address child, family and/or program issues that reflect consultees’ cultures, skills, strengths, needs and preferences
  • Motivate staff and family members to try different strategies and approaches
  • Provide meaningful support to consultees to help with strategy implementation
  • Link consultees to other services and systems as needed

Essentially, consultants need a skill set that helps them build family/provider/program capacity to meet the social and emotional needs of young children by enhancing consultees’ knowledge, skill and sense of self-efficacy. An effective consultant can be characterized as a collaborator, mental health service provider, educator, coach and cheerleader.

As with content knowledge, consultants must tailor their skill set to meet the needs of the populations they are serving. For example, if a HS/EHS program is required to use a particular screening or observation tool, the consultant must be familiar with how to administer these tools so they can use them effectively and teach others how to do the same. Likewise, if a HS/EHS serves a large number of families for whom English is not their first language, consultants will need to find a means to communicate effectively with these individuals.

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This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.