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  • Acculturation – Cultural modification of an individual, group or people which involves adapting or borrowing traits from another culture; a merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact.
  • Administrative supervision: See Supervision
  • Adrenalin: A hormone and neurotransmitter that increases heart rate, contracts blood vessels, dilates air passages and participates in the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system.
  • Amygdala: A part of the brain, considered part of the limbic system, located deep within the medial temporal lobes with a primary role in the processing and memory of emotional reactions.
  • Assimilation – To assume the cultural traditions of a given people or group.


  • Bias – Interpreting and judging phenomena in terms particular to one’s own culture; judging people or phenomena associated with people based on the race/ethnicity, region of origin, or tribe of the people, rather than based on more objective criteria.
  • Bio-social context – For young children, the bio-social context includes the family culture and its influence on the values, beliefs, child rearing practices and expectations related to child development, and social-emotional health and well being. For those children in out-of-home care, this includes the experience of the culture, practices, and expectations of the program and those who provided care.
  • Burn-out: The experience of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion connected with long exposure to emotionally demanding situations, such as caring for those who have experienced trauma. Signs of burn-out may include physical symptoms of fatigue, sleep problems, somatic problems; emotional symptoms of irritability, anxiety, depression, guilt, helplessness; behavioral symptoms of anger, aggression, substance abuse; work related symptoms such as decreased effectiveness at work, being late or missing work ; or interpersonal problems of trouble communicating, trouble concentrating, avoiding others, or lack of empathy.


  • Capacity building: To improve or increase the ability of early childhood programs, providers, family members, and community partners to address the social and emotional needs of young children (adapted from Cohen Kaufmann, 2005)
  • Caregivers: This includes both parents/family member and the Head Start/Early Head Start staff who care for the children in their programs.
  • Certificate program: An education or training program that offers a certificate or designation earned by a person to assure qualification to perform a job or task. Many are earned from a professional society and may need to be renewed periodically through evidence of continued learning (CEU’s).
  • Child/family-centered consultation: Early childhood mental health consultation services that address the factors that contribute to a child’s strengths and challenges in the early childhood setting (Cohen Kaufmann, 2005).
  • Clinical supervision: See Supervision
  • Complex trauma: Also known as Developmental Trauma Disorder, complex trauma describes how children’s exposure to multiple or prolonged traumatic events impacts their ongoing development. Typically, complex trauma exposure involves the simultaneous or sequential occurrence of child maltreatment and may include psychological maltreatment, neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and witnessing domestic violence.
  • 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.
  • Continuity of care – Continuity of care is inclusive of what caregiving practices happen to a child at home and when he or she is under the care of another adult. In addition to daily routines familiar to the child, continuity of care includes the ability of the provider to understand, respect and build upon cultural and linguistic practices of the home
  • Coping resources: Coping resources (or mechanisms) can be described as the sum total of ways in which we deal with minor to major stress and trauma. Some of these processes are unconscious ones, others are learned behavior, and still others are skills we consciously master in order to reduce stress, or other intense emotions like depression. Not all coping mechanisms are equally beneficial, and some can actually be very detrimental.
  • Cortisol: A steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress; sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone”.
  • Credentialing program: An education or professional preparation program establishing the qualifications of licensed professionals and assessing their background and legitimacy through an objective evaluation of a individual’s current licensure, training or experience, competence, and ability to provide particular services or perform particular procedures.
  • Cross-cultural communication – How people from differing cultural backgrounds interact to communicate across cultures, including the spoken and written word, body language, etc.
  • Cultural accommodation – Involves modifying the way a program, service, or practice is delivered so that it can be utilized with a particular culture or community (e.g., translating forms, using interpreters).
  • Cultural adaptation – Involvesreviewing and changing the structure of a program, service, or practice to more appropriately fit the needs and preferences of a particular cultural group or community.
  • Cultural and linguistic match – Describes the circumstances in which a service provider and service recipient share the same culture and speak the same language.
  • Cultural awareness – Includes being cognizant, observant, and conscious of similarities and differences among cultural groups.
  • Cultural broker – Cultural brokering is the act of bridging, linking, or mediating between groups or persons of different cultural backgrounds for the purpose of reducing conflict or producing change. A cultural broker is defined as a go-between, one who advocates on behalf of another individual or group (Jezewski,1990;Jezewski Sotnik, 2001)
  • Cultural competence – A set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and practices that represent acceptance and respect for differences, continuing self-assessment, careful attention to the dynamics of difference, continuous expansion of knowledge and resources, and adaptation of services to better meet the needs of diverse populations.
  • Cultural competence: Refers to an ability to interact effectively with people of different cultures. Cultural competence comprises four components: (a) Awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, (b) Attitude towards cultural differences, (c) Knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and (d) cross-cultural Skills. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. (Martin, M. Vaughn, B., 2007).
  • Cultural context – The environment or situation that is relevant to the beliefs, values, and practices of the culture; including the context of an individual, a family, a program or a community, etc.
  • Cultural mistrust – Describes a tendency to distrust a cultural group based on a legacy of direct, the experience of others, or perceived, exposure to racism or unfair, unequal treatment, including basic rights, access to services, or other opportunities.
  • Cultural reciprocity – In the context of early care and education, this term refers to the effort of staff to understand families’ cultural beliefs, and to use this understanding as a way to help promote the healthy development of infants and toddlers; including the ability to respect families’ beliefs and traditions, and look for ways to meet the families’ unique needs while still upholding early care and education program objectives. (ZERO TO THREE, 2003)
  • Cultural sensitivity – Understanding the needs and emotions of your own culture and the culture of others. (Goode, T., 1997, revised 2000)
  • Culturally responsive – A term used describe when an individual or the purpose, design, and implementation of services demonstrate a respect for cultural differences and accommodate the cultural identity of those with whom they are engaged or for whom the services are being provided.
  • Culturally responsive: A set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies within a system, agency, group of professionals or individual that allows them to work in cross-cultural situations (Cross, Bazron, Dennis, Isaccs, 1989)
  • Culture – An integrated pattern of human behavior which includes thought, communication, languages, beliefs, values, practices, customs, courtesies, rituals, manners of interacting, role, relationships and expected behaviors of a racial, ethnic, religious or social group and the ability to transmit this pattern to succeeding generations.
  • Defense mechanisms: Psychological strategies brought into play to cope with reality and to lessen distress and anxiety provoked by threat or trauma such as acting out, fantasy, somatization, etc.


  • Developmental niche – A term used to describe a framework for thinking about the ways in which culture influences a child’s day-to-day environment, experience, and development within the context of caregiving relationships and early learning experiences. (Harkness and Super, 1992)
  • Dialect – The term dialect refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language’s speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors, such as social class.


  • Early care and education: This includes programs and providers in Early Head Start/Head Start and licensed center-based and family child care settings.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Early childhood mental health: The social, emotional and behavioral well-being of young children and their families, including the developing capacity of a child to experience, regulate and express emotional; form close secure relationships; and explore the environment and learn (adapted from ZERO TO THREE,
  • Emotional development: A component of early childhood mental health encompassing a child’s ability to experience, regulate and express emotion.
  • Endorsement: Affirmation of specialized knowledge and competencies to provide services with a high level of quality and integrity based on formal education, in-service training, supervised practices, and testing or portfolio review. For example: Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health’s endorsement in infant or early childhood mental health (Adapted from Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH),
  • 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.
  • Ethnic or culture related trauma – Traumatic experiences and stress that are linked to or associated with ethnicity or culture, such as discrimination, violence, war, etc.; for example, refugees who have been exiled or sought asylum and safety in a different country.
  • Ethnicity – Ethnic quality or affiliation, of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, tribal, religious, or linguistic, or cultural origin or background.
  • Evidence base: A body of scientific knowledge about service practices or the impact of clinical treatments of services on the mental health problems of children and adolescents (Hoagwood, Burns, Kiser, Ringelsen, Shoenwald, 2001)
  • Explanatory model – A description of how something works or the observations, causes, and reasons for a particular event, experience, or presentation of a problem that can be useful in understanding and making a decision or choice about what steps to take next; including concerns about an individual’s or child’s behavior and planning for intervention.


  • Family cultural context – The family cultural context refers to the values, beliefs, practices and customs that influence family life. This can include the influence of community as well as living circumstances such as poverty, refugee status, etc.


  • Guides: Publications or materials that present and/or relate to specific topical information, providing instructional information as well as guidance for understanding, designing, implementing, and evaluating actions related to this topic.


  • Hippocampus: A major component of the brain that is part of the limbic system and plays important roles in long-term memory and spatial navigation.
  • Holding environment: The capacity of a family or other caregiving relationship that can both provide attention, nurturance, and safety that a child needs and can allow that child to grow, develop, and have appropriate independence.


  • Identity – A term used to describe a person’s conception and expression of their individuality or group affiliation, such as national identity and cultural identity.
  • In-service training: Specialized instruction for employees to help them develop their skills in a specific discipline or occupation which takes place after an individual begins work responsibilities.
  • Institutional discrimination – Also known as “institutionalized discrimination”, this term refers to the unfair, indirect treatment of an individual via the operating procedures, policies, laws, or objectives of large organizations such as the governments and corporations, financial institutions (banks, investment firms, money markets), public institutions (schools, police forces, healthcare centers), and other social institutions. Usually the bias targets specific attributes including race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, and age.
  • Interpreter – An individual who orally restates in one language what has been said in another language.


  • Linguistic competence – The capacity to effectively communicate with persons of limited English proficiency, those who have low literacy skills or are not literate, and individuals with disabilities. May include being bilingual/bicultural, using cultural brokers, using interpreters and translators, and easy to read or low literacy print materials.


  • Marginalization – A social process in which individuals and entire communities of people are relegated to the fringe of society, usually limiting in their rights, opportunities and resources.
  • Mental health consultant: A mental health professional providing early childhood mental health consultation services.
  • 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.


  • Neural circuit: A functional entity of interconnected neurons that influence each other, particularly in the brain.
  • Neurobiological chemicals: Chemicals that support neurotransmission in the brain are responsible for regulating all physiological processes, including our ability to sense and respond to our environment, maintain consciousness, express emotions and display fluctuations in mood; these include those hormones that are organized in the limbic system of the brain, such as adrenalin and cortisol.


  • Outcomes: The specific changes in program participants’ behavior, knowledge, skills, status and level of functioning. (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004)


  • 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.
  • Political context – The political, policy, legal, and procedural aspects associated with a country or community that family life, including those who are culturally diverse and may benefit or be challenged by the current context. (e.g. legal status, immigration, etc.).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: A mental health diagnosis associated with symptoms following an exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma – involve a perceived or actual threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual’s ability to cope.
  • Prefrontal cortex: The anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain that plays an important part in planning complex cognitive behaviors, decision making and moderating correct social behavior.
  • Pre-service training: Specialized instruction which takes place before a person begins a job or task
  • Programmatic consultation: Early childhood mental health consultation that focuses on improving the quality of the early childhood program or agency and assists that program to address challenges that impact more than one child, family, or staff member (Cohen Kaufmann, 2005).
  • Protective factors: Individual qualities, capacities, coping strategies, or other environmental features family, school, community and other affiliations that make a positive contribution to an individual’s resilience.
  • Pruned neural synapses: The cutting back or elimination of excess neurons and neural connections in the developing brain.
  • Publications: Documents, articles, or other materials that provide topical information based on literature reviews, research, or practice.


  • Race – A tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock; a division of humankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinctive human type.
  • Reflective dialogue – Describes interactive conversation used in the process of reflective supervision for identifying motivations, feelings, and insight toward self-awareness by associated with relationship-based work. See also Reflective Practices; Supervision.
  • 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.
  • Reflective supervision: See Supervision.
  • 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.
  • Resilience: An individual’s capacity to cope with stress and adversity, enabling the individual to “bounce back” to return to effective functioning, or using the experience of exposure to adversity to produce a “steeling effect” and function better than expected.
  • Retraumatize, retraumatizing, retraumatization: These terms refer to an individual experiencing another traumatic event and the impact of that experience and or the experience of delayed onset or reactivated symptoms related to a past traumatic experience. For example, a child who suffered abuse and neglect that included sitting in a chair in isolation may be unintentionally “retraumatized” if placed in an isolating, time-out chair in the child-care setting.
  • Risk factors: A term to describe those individual aspects or circumstances that may be associated with potentially negative effects on healthy growth, development, and adaptation or resilience, such as premature birth, health problems, poverty, etc.


  • Scaffolding: A term used to describe the interactional support and the process by which adults mediate a child’s attempts to take on new learning. Scaffolding represents the helpful interactions between adult and child that enable the child to do something beyond his or her independent efforts.
  • Secondary trauma: Secondary trauma (traumatic stress) or vicarious trauma, refers to the behavioral and emotional experience of those people who care for, or are involved with, those who have been directly traumatized. Those who work with traumatized people may experience intrusive thoughts, nightmares, feeling withdrawn and isolated, feel depressed, have difficulty concentrating, and feel helpless. For this reason, those who work with children and families impacted by trauma need an ongoing support system to deal with the intensity of their reactions in their relationship with the victim, or perpetrator.
  • Sensitive periods: A term to describe times in a child’s development where the brain is most open to the influence of external experiences.
  • 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.
  • Skilled dialogue – An evidence-based approach for transforming difficult conversations; a tool for establishing respectful, reciprocal and responsive interactions between people holding diverse perspectives, whether due to cultural backgrounds, gender, experience, beliefs or other factors, and a framework for breaking out of dualistic either-or thinking and generating more inclusive “third” options. (Retrieved on July 7, 2012 from
  • Socio-cultural context – The physical, material, social and political aspects associated with a particular cultural group or community that influence family life.
  • 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:
    • Administrative supervision: Includes guidance on organizational structure and personnel/family interaction by an early childhood program director or supervisor,
    • Clinical supervision: Includes guidance on diagnosis and intervention by a more senior or licensed clinician
    • Reflective supervision: 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
  • Synapses: A synapse is a junction that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell.


  • Training guides: Publications or materials designed to assist a trainer in preparing for, presenting and facilitating individual or group (usually) instruction on a particular topic. The text includes content information, step-by-step instructions, and materials to support participant learning.
  • Translator – An individual who converts written materials from one language to another.
  • Trauma trigger: An experience that, for an individual, represents a troubling reminder of a traumatic event. The trigger need not be frightening or traumatic, but can prompt emotional or physical symptoms associated with the original trauma. The trigger can take many forms, such as a person, place, noise, image, smell, taste, scene, body sensation, etc. Also known as trauma reminders.
  • Trauma: A term to describe the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions in which the individual’s ability to integrate his/her emotional experience is overwhelmed, and the individual experiences (either objectively or subjectively) a threat to his/her life, bodily integrity, or that of a caregiver or family.


  • Validity – A term used to describe measures and instruments used in screening, assessment, and evaluation. If a measure is valid, this means that the measuring instrument accurately reflects what it is intended to measure.


  • Worldview – A coherent understanding of the nature of reality which permits its holders to interpret new information in light of their preconceptions. In a cultural context, a “cultural worldview” is used to describe how culture influences the perceptions, interpretation, and actions of individuals and the world around them.

Glossary References:

  • Cohen Kaufmann, 2000). Cohen, E. and Kaufman, R. (2000). Early childhood mental health consultation. Washington, D.C: Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA, (US Department of HHS).
  • Cohen, E. Kaufmann, R. (2005). Early childhood mental health consultation. DHHS Pub. No. CMHS-SVP0151. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis, K., Isaccs, M. (1989). Towards a culturally competent system of care: A monograph on effective services for minority children who are severely disturbed, Volume, I. Washington DC: Georgetown University Child Development Center, CASSP Technical Assistance Center.
  • Goode, T. (1997, revised 2000). Definitions. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Child Development Center, Center for Child Health and Mental Health Policy, University Affiliated Program.
  • Harkness, S. Super, C. M. (1992). Parental ethnotheories in action. In I.E. Seiger, A. V. McGuillicuddy-DeLisi, J. Goodnow (Eds.), Parental belief systems: The psychological consequences for children. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Hoagwood, H., Burns, B. J., Kiser, L., Ringeisen, H., Schoenwald, S. K. (2001). Evidence-based practice in child and adolescent mental health services. Psychiatric Services, 52(9), 1179-89.
  • Jezewski, M. A. (1990, August). Culture brokering in migrant farm worker health care.
    Western Journal of Nursing Research, 12(4), 497–513.
  • Jezewski, M. A., Sotnik, P. (2001). Culture brokering: Providing culturally competent
    rehabilitation services to foreign-born persons. (J. Stone, Ed.). Buffalo, NY: Center for
    International Rehabilitation Research Information and Exchange.
  • Mercedes Martin Billy Vaughn (2007). Strategic Diversity Inclusion Management magazine, pp. 31-36. DTUI Publications Division: San Francisco, CA.
  • Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH), Mental Health Association of Michigan (2009) MI-AIMH Endorsement (IMH-E): Overview. Southgate, MI: Author. Retrieved from the MI-AIMH Website
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004 W.K. Kellogg Foundation (2004). Using logic models to bring together planning, evaluation, and action: Logic model development guide. Battle Creek, MI: Author. Retrieved from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Web site:
  • ZERO TO THREE (2003) What is cultural reciprocity? Center for Program Excellence. Washington DC: Author.
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.