Activity: Who Should Be On the Team?

Activity: Who Should Be On the Team?

preschool children doing activities

Collaboration among partners who can provide meaningful insight and effort toward resolving a given issue is essential to effective consultation. Thus, a consultant must thoughtfully consider who should be part of each collaboration. Take a moment to read the scenario below and then reflect on whom the mental health consultant should engage in a “consultation team” to address the issues discussed.

Wanda Green and her family are new to the community and were very pleased that the local Head Start Program accepted her in August. The Family Service Worker, who speaks Mrs. Green’s native language, visited Wanda’s parents in their home in early September and encouraged them to attend the Family Training events scheduled for the year. Mr. and Mrs. Green participated in the first 2 sessions and then stopped coming. In January, Wanda’s teacher called Mrs. Green to express her concern about Wanda’s behavior, which she reported as becoming more aggressive over the past month. Wanda had been pushing and hitting other children and her speech was very difficult to understand. During the previous week, Wanda threw a toy at another child in the program and broke her glasses. The child’s parents called the Director to complain about Wanda. The Director, in turn, called upon the mental health consultant to help sort out the problem. Mrs. Green, who speaks to Wanda in her native language at home, was very disturbed by the teacher’s observations and says that Wanda is very happy and quiet at home. She and her husband are considering withdrawing Wanda from Head Start.

Questions to consider (click on the question for answers):

  • Mr. and Mrs. Green - parents
  • Family Service Worker
  • Mental health consultant
  • Head Start program director
  • Mr. and Mrs. Green - parents: They do not see the same behaviors at home; can help decipher what might be triggering the behavior in the classroom and provide guidance on what strategies might work best for Wanda and her family.
  • Family Service Worker: She speaks Mrs. Green's native language and can help ensure that Mrs. Green can actively participate in and contribute to the collaboration.
  • Wanda's teacher: She sees Wanda every day in the classroom and can speak to her strengths as well as when the challenging behaviors occur.
  • Mental health consultant: He is well-versed in early childhood mental health and can help the group think through what might be causing the behavior and what strategies might address the issue at hand.
  • Head Start program director: She can let the team know about the variety of service options available through the Head Start program to support Wanda and her family.
  • Coming to consensus that Wanda does have some behavioral issues to address, since these behaviors only seem to surface in the classroom.
  • Making sure the strategies align with Mr. and Mrs. Green's cultural preferences.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Green should be invited to observe Wanda in the classroom so they can see how she is interacting with her peers
  • If permission is granted for the mental health consultant to observe Wanda, the consultant should observe her at home and in the classroom to see how and if her behavior differs across settings. Ideally, multiple observations would take place at different times of day. After the observations, the mental health consultant should provide the family and teacher with immediate feedback and work collaboratively to develop a feasible intervention plan.
  • If the family does not want Wanda observed, the mental health consultant should be ready to work with the teacher to provide individualized interventions for Wanda to promote more appropriate behavior.
  • The mental health consultant might also recommend a speech and language evaluation to rule out a communication disorder. Ideally the specialist should speak the family's native language.

Resource: "Collaborative Approach to Mental Health" (Head Start Bulletin 80, pp. 9-10)

Previous Next
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.