Mental Health Consultation and Consultee-Centered Approaches
As a young psychiatrist in Israel in the late 1940s, Gerald Caplan was confronted with the problem of having few resources to meet the mental health needs of children who had survived the Holocaust. Caplan and a small sta# of trained mental health professionals were responsible for upward of a 1,000 referrals a year (Caplan, Caplan, & Erchul, 1995). Given the breadth and depth of the children’s mental health needs, it was not feasible to use the direct services Caplan was trained to deliver to process these referrals. Out of necessity, Caplan established an approach to indirect service, mental health consultation (MHC), by which he would enhance the abilities of other caregivers to meet, and ideally prevent, children’s psychological problems. Caplan developed consultation as a form of primary (i.e., universal) prevention to support mental health outcomes for underserved children with mental illness.