Professional Development Through Reflective Consultation in Early Intervention


Special Education

Date of this version


Document Type



early intervention, infant mental health, youth with disabilities, intervention, professional development


The fields of special education/early intervention and infant mental health are moving closer, as practitioners find common ground in understanding and intervening to support vulnerable infants and toddlers. The importance of the impact of relationships on all developmental domains has been brought to the foreground. This includes relationships between parent and interventionist, as well as parent and child. Ongoing professional development in the form of reflective consultation supports the work of interventionists by fostering reflective functioning and facilitating a greater understanding of the impact of interactions and emotions in their work with families. This may lead to a broader and deeper range of intervention approaches and a better choice of intervention based on a better understanding of individual and family needs. This article describes a collaborative pilot project that integrates an infant mental health approach to support early interventionists within a special education system. The project supported the services of an infant mental health consultant to facilitate ongoing reflective consultation for 2 home-based school district teams working in an urban community. Data were collected to explore the effects of reflective consultation in supporting early interventionists, decreasing burnout, and increasing skills needed to work with diverse families. As a result of this project, the participants advocated for use of district professional development funds to continue reflective consultation with the consultant.

Published in

Infants & Young Children

Citation/Other Information

Watson, C., & Neilsen-Gatti, S. (2012). Professional development through reflective consultation in early intervention. Infants & Young Children, 25(2), 109-121. https://doi.org/10.1097/IYC.0b013e31824c0685