Consultations play an important role in creating strategies and policies. A consultation is a procedure whereby the individual, the public or an organization gets help in solving a problem. The main idea is to engage everybody who is involved with the subject, understands the problem and wants to help find the best solution. At times, a consultation will not address any specific problem, but rather solicit opinions and feedback.
Before a consultation begins, a consultation document called a model is created by the consultant, or sometimes by the individual or the appropriate department. This document is an outline of topics that will be discussed. There are consultations aimed at government bodies, councils and charitable organizations.
Consultations that involve larger groups can last from six weeks to as long as three months. If it is a private consultation, one or two sessions will usually suffice. After the consultation is completed, the information is used to help the individual or group solve the problem.
Consultation may refer to many topics including the following:
Public consultation: the process by which the opinions and input of the public on a specific matter is sought.
Medical consultation: a formal meeting with a medical doctor for a discussion or advice.
Media consultation: a meeting between a media service provider and the consumer.
Financial consultation: a meeting between an investor and a financial adviser.
Every type of consultation requires a different approach. Here are some examples.
• Medical consultation: typically includes history; examination; investigation; diagnosis; treatment; and
• Sociological approach: Aims to understand behavior between doctors and patients accepting the concepts of values and norms.
• Anthropological approach:
Looks at effect of culture;
Distinguishes between illness and disease;
Includes transactional analysis;
Revolves around ego states of parent, child and adult .
• Balint Approach: A group of physicians meets to discuss clinical cases in order to further the physicians' understanding of doctor/patient relationships.
• Social-psychological approach: Patient and doctor's personality, as well as their beliefs, alter outcome of consultation.
• Transactional analysis: Revolves around ego states of parent, child and adult.
Instructional consultation is the joining of two major topics in the field of school psychology and educational consultation. It involves the process of collaborative consultation and the knowledge base of instructional psychology. Skill in consultation as a shared process, along with expertise in a specific area of content, are both necessary for effective consultation.
The procedure of implementing a social work consultation is a process that involves the psychiatrist and the social worker. The cases for such a consultation are generally selected by the supervisor and social worker. A summary of the case record is sent to the consultant in advance. A summary review of the case situation may include specific questions the supervisor or social worker wishes to have discussed. At times, the psychiatrist-consultant may request an interview with, or an observation of, the client who is the subject of the consultation. Usually the supervisor participates in the consultation not only by helping the social worker to select and prepare the case, but also as a resource person during the consultation conferences. The supervisor subsequently also helps the social worker in the implementation of the consultant's recommendations. The caseworker whose case is being discussed is responsible for recording the consultation.
Perhaps the most outstanding recent factor that relates to the increased concern with social work consultation stems from developments in community mental health rather than developments in social work. The Mental Health Act of 1963, which provided federal funding for community mental health centers, is very often mentioned as the event that gave importance to programs of consultation.
The identification of consultation and education as an essential service to the community to be provided by mental health centers grew out of the concern with placing greater emphasis on preventive procedures. The premise was that the widespread application of mental health principles, especially to children, would greatly improve society and reduce crime and poverty. It would also aid in the reforming of the criminal justice system, schools and other institutions.
While many professionals have become disenchanted with the possibilities of this approach, there is still great expectation of the outcomes of mental health consultation education.