Consultees: This includes both parents/family members and the Early Head Start/Head Start staff who care for the children in their programs and receive consultation services from the early childhood mental health consultant.

Early childhood mental health consultation: A problem-solving and capacity-building intervention implemented within a collaborative relationship between a professional consultant with mental health expertise and one or more caregivers, typically an early care and education provider and/or family member. Early childhood mental health consultation aims to build the capacity (improve the ability) of staff, families, programs, and systems to prevent, identify, treat and reduce the impact of mental health problems among children from birth to age 6 and their families (adapted from Cohen & Kaufmann, 2000).

Entry: The process of joining or “entering” a relationship, work place, or program and the essential elements that facilitate a smooth transition. In early childhood mental health consultation, this process includes an introduction, communicates collaboration, clarifies shared expectations, and provides time for relationship building.

Mentoring: A personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. Foremost, mentoring involves communication, is relationship based, and provides both knowledge and psychosocial support over a sustained period of time.

Parallel process: The perspective in relationship-based mental health consultation work that all relationships influence one another. For example, a positive experience in the relationship between the consultant and the early care and educator, positively influences the relationship between the early care and education provider and the children in his or her care and their families.

Relationship-based: The theoretical and developmental perspective that relationships and the interaction between caregiving adults and children have a primary role in the social/emotional development and mental health of young children. It also refers to the nature of the work between a mental health consultant and consultee, building on the collaborative relationship between the two.

Reflective practice: A means of developing a greater level of self-awareness about and insight into the nature and impact of one’s actions and interactions as an opportunity for personal and professional growth and development. In early care and education, reflective practice helps staff members understand their own reactions to the children and families with whom they work and help them to use this self-awareness to develop strategies to enrich their work

Shadowing: The personal or professional developmental activity of learning by first-hand observation of a more experienced individual and their behavior carrying out their work, activities, or daily tasks.

Supervision: The act of providing guidance, oversight, or shared responsibility in the work or tasks of another in a work, professional, or personal context. In early childhood mental health consultation, a mental health consultant may experience:

  • Clinical supervision and guidance on diagnosis and intervention by a more senior or licensed clinician,
  • Administrative supervision and guidance on organizational structure and personnel/family interaction by an early childhood program director or supervisor,
  • Reflective supervision that includes reflective practices and guidance on identifying motivations, feelings, and insight toward self-awareness by a mental health professional trained in this type of supervision associated with relationship-based work.
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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.