In our last blog, we spoke about the necessity of treatment education and treatment vetting, including what to be aware of when beginning to seek for help. Now that you know the why, let’s talk about the how. How do you vet a program, so that you may confidently send yourself, your client, or the Priority Family Member to treatment?
When first hearing about a treatment center, the easiest thing to do is to ask around about the program and do your own research. Keep in mind that while online reviews through Google or Yelp may be accurate in other industries, this is NOT always a good reflection of services being provided, good or bad. Instead, visit their site with a critical thinking approach.
The first step you can take in treatment vetting is visiting a program’s website. Beware of the buzzwords we spoke about above, and take notes to follow up on with an admissions counselor to further understand how they individualize treatment, what kind of dual-diagnosis resources they offer, and what trauma-informed treatment really means.
Questions to consider:
- Is their staff listed?
- What are the credentials of their clinical team?
- How many clinicians do they have on staff?
- Do they have an affiliation with call centers? (this tends to be a monetary red flag)
- How do they market to get clients?
- Are they accredited? (Joint Commission [JCHAO], NAATP, CARF)
- Are they licensed with the state in which they reside? (California Department of Health Care Services or DCHS, etc.)
While you may not be able to answer these questions from visiting their site, you can keep these questions in mind while you read about the program or contact their admissions department.
Tell Me About Your Program: Speaking with Admissions
Once you asked around about a program, and/or reviewed their site, you may decide to call the program directly to learn more. Keep in mind that Admissions is a sales position. This does NOT mean that admissions counselors are going to lie to you to get someone into treatment, but it does mean that they may very well have a bias about their program, so it’s important to prepare questions ahead of time and proceed in the interview process with tact.
Questions About the Program:
- What types of therapeutic topics, themes, skills, processes, and changes can the Priority Family Member that the treatment center is expected to encounter?
- What Specialty Groups do you offer?
- How is conflict handled? (Client with Client, Staff with Client)
- Are scheduled activities done with the specific purpose of creating a safe environment where clients can explore deeper work? (Experiential outings like the beach, surfing, music therapy, etc.)
- What SPECIFIC programming is in place to support mental health or addiction components? (This will address what elements of a program address dual-diagnosis program components as well)
- What type of support meetings are clients exposed to? Frequency? Are they required?
- How do you handle relapse?
- Who is clinically appropriate for your program? What would you rule out? (One Stop Shop Phenomena: beware phrases like “there’s nothing we cannot handle”)
Investigating Clinical Practices:
After getting a general overview of a program, it will be important to learn about who will actually be treating the Priority Family Member.
Questions to Consider about Clinical Practices and Clinicians:
- Who is the Clinical Director? What are their credentials, and how long have they been in practice?
- How are treatment plans individualized? Are my loved one’s strengths assessed and subsequently applied to be used for treatment planning?
- How many individual hours do clinicians have with clients each week?
- Who participates in clinical staffing and treatment planning?
- Are clinicians dually licensed to do integrative work? (This is a great question to understand program elements like DBT, CBT, EMDR, Somatic Experience, Experiential and Recreation therapies, etc.)
- What is the caseload for clinicians?
- How many clients are in groups? Is this capped?
- How are groups separated? Gender? Diagnosis? Levels of Care?
- Are clinicians creative and collaborative with clients?
- How is the discharge process handled? Are clients encouraged and planned to attend aftercare or alumni programs?
Medical and Psychiatric Practices:
Medical Directors for treatment programs are often contracted employees and are often offsite. To ensure the safety of your loved one, it is imperative to understand the psychiatric and medical practices of a program, and how they handle the contractual structures of the clinicians and psychiatrists they hire.
Questions to Consider:
- Do medical doctors see clients in person during their stay? How often, and what type of doctors?
- What maintenance and anti-craving medications are used? Is MAT offered?
- Who is dispensing/observing medications?
- How are other health issues being handled?
- How often are clients being drug tested?
- Are medication histories and historical medical records taken into consideration?
Doyen’s philosophy surrounding addiction and mental health challenges encapsulates the idea that an entire family system must get help to experience sustainable change. For that reason, strong family involvement is imperative.
Questions to Understand Family Involvement:
- What is the required family involvement?
- What does your Family Program look like? Is it educational? Does it include support groups and individual family sessions?
- What is the amount of family contact while a loved one is in treatment?
- How can the family be involved when a loved one refuses family work?
- What does it look like when a family member exits treatment?
The process of vetting treatment centers is potentially overwhelming – as is the decision to invest and put trust in a program with your loved one’s livelihood. At Doyen Consulting, we have developed a treatment vetting process that investigates the intricate details of programs to give the best possible treatment recommendations to set families up for success.
Interested in learning more about Treatment Placement? Check out our services here.