Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Renee Hepperlen


Social Work


Significant emotional and behavioral problems in early childhood are a growing concern for social workers, mental health professionals, teachers, day care providers and others involved in the care of children ranging in age from 18 months to six years old. The purpose of this research study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the professional experience and perspective of mental health professionals in meeting the mental health needs of children with significant emotional and behavioral problems in early childhood. A semi-structured interview was used with the six mental health professionals that participated in the study. Three major themes from the data: the therapeutic process, the importance of family, and collaboration between systems. Additionally, the following subthemes were apparent in the data: the impact of negative developmental experiences, the need for early identification and intervention, lack of emotional regulation and a regulating partner, corrective emotional experiences, client-centered care, psychoeducation, and barriers. Several of the findings from this study were consistent with the current literature on the topic. Finally, this study suggests several implications for social work practice, policy, and research.

Included in

Social Work Commons