Instituto Familiar de La Raza
Early Childhood Mental Health
San Francisco, CA
Presented by
Cassandra Coe, LCSW
Early Intervention Program Manager
Elia Dominguez, MA
IFR Mental Health Consultant
IFR Philosophy
• La Cultura Cura - Culture Heals
– All healing practices occur within a cultural framework
where healing is about community building and
– Each sub-culture in the trajectory of the
Latino/Chicano/Indigenous experience has a set of healing
practices and coping mechanisms embedded in it which
should be strengthened and celebrated.
Program History
• IFR’s ECMH program grew out of work being done with family
child care providers(1986), an effort to support primarily
monolingual/monocultural family childcare providers to
recognize, value, and trust their own intuitive caring practices.
• These efforts led to supporting the providers develop bicultural
practices and integrate multiple approaches to childcare.
• The Infant Parent Program (UCSF) with support from
Foundations implemented in the late 1980’s the first formal
Mental Health Consultation Program in SF.
• Model expanded in 1999 when there was an effort by infantparent clinicians in the provider community that resulted in
Foundations supporting citywide funding.
Program Model
• Well being (mental health)
is viewed through the interplay of cultural and clinical lenses.
• Mental health consultation practice
takes place within multiple settings and relationships which have
the healing potential within.
• Relationship-based developmental approach
focusing on strengths within the cultural context of the family
and the childcare center
• Client-centered, child-focused
promoting reflective practices with consultants and care
• Consultation is understood as it is experienced
and contingent on relationships and ever changing dynamics.
What is Culture?
• Set of values, beliefs and experiences that guide how we
relate to each other
• Way of communicating that is beyond language
• Relationships are formed within the context of these
values, beliefs, etc….
• Example, from Latino experience - the “we”
(collective) is more prevalent than the “I”
Appreciation of Differences
Dime, qué es aqua?
Tell me, what is water?
What is Culture as the Field?
• La Cultura Cura - Culture Heals
– the belief that each culture has a set of healing practices and
coping mechanisms embedded in it.
• Tu eres mi otro yo - We are one
– recognition that we are all interrelated and interdependent
and you are the mirror of my own experience. Thus, the
subject is not the “I” but the “We”.
Both influence the context/field of consultation
The Consultant Demonstrates
• Cultural empathy/humility - checking assumptions and
engaging families from a strengths based perspective.
• Appreciation and exploration – of cultural values of
teachers and families and seeking to support the strengths within
those values.
• Fluidity and flexibility - within the boundaries of the
consultative relationship, attuning to the needs of the situation
and adapting in response to those needs. (sometimes we are the
expert, but often we are joining as partners in supporting a
community (classroom or otherwise).
Creating a Holding Space
Cultural affirmation supports
holding space for reflection
Culture Heals
La Cultura Cura
Relationships Heal
Deeper, trusting and respectful mutual relationships are developed
“Tu eres mi otro yo” : We are one
Relationship-based and Reflective Model
• Enhancing and promoting positive relationships between adultadult; adult-child; parent-child and child-child is at the core of
our practice to create optimal learning and developmental
• Consultation begins with developing positive relationships with
staff by BEING empathic, respectful, reflective, consistent, and
a good listener.
• Assumptions:
1. All learning takes place in the context of relationships and is
strongly impacted by the quality of these relationships
2. All behavior has meaning.
Parallel Process
• Reflection begins with the consultant’s attunement to their own
internal process and it’s relationship to the experience of
• The reflective stance during consultation creates an opening for
teachers to understand their internal experience which we believe
leads them to hence begin to reflect upon the internal experience
of a child.
• Through this process, the child and family begin to build their own
capacity for self-reflection.
• Wondering with care providers empowers their own knowing and
arrive at solutions that resonate from within and are not externally
• Empathic listening and reflection through supervision impacts
consultants to do so with teachers and thus, teachers with children.
Program Readiness
for Consultation Practices
• Consultants that represent the culture and language
needs of families and staff being served.
• Acknowledgement and appreciation that culture does
• Clear articulated model that grounds consultants in the
• Ongoing training and weekly supervision to consultants,
holding their experience in such a way that the
consultants are thus better prepared to hold the
experience of their sites.
Program Readiness
for Consultation Practices
• Support and encourage consultant’s development of selfawareness and explore what it is to be the “other”
• Mental Health Consultation in Child Care
by Kadija Johnston and Charles Brinamen
• Abriendo Puertas – an evidence based leadership
training program for Latino Parents with children
ages 0-5 based on popular education and draws on
real life experiences and cultural strengths
• Divided by Borders by Joanna Dreby,
available at
Del dicho al hecho, hay un gran trecho
Actions speak louder than words

Mental Health Consultation