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The Importance of a Multi-disciplinary Approach to Service Coordination

by Maria Distefano, Student at The Academy

Have you ever witnessed a person make a complete change in their life for the better? Have you ever wondered how they did it and where the help came from? There is usually a reasonable explanation for everything in life and I am here to tell you about something more specific. The treatment process in substance abuse and/or mental disorders is not an easy road, but with the right team of professionals, recovery is possible. In this writing, I am going to explain what each persons role is and how beneficial it is to the individual seeking help.

First and foremost, there has to be an intake process. The client must sign a consent for treatment before any other step can be taken. Per HIPPA law and for the safety of the client and the professional, there has to be a clear understanding on what the client has to expect coming in. There are many releases the client must sign in case of emergency, hospitalization, work, family, probation and/or spouses. The intake coordinator must know what drugs and how much and for how long if the client has consumed. This will help the professional know if the facility offers the level of care the client is seeking or ready for. After this process is complete and the client agrees to the terms and conditions, there is a better chance of the client committing to the treatment process.

The second step in the treatment process would usually be to assign the client with a primary therapist. The primary therapist is there to further assess the client and conduct a Biopsychosocial. A biopsychosocial is beneficial for the therapist to better understand them and assist the client in any future needs. I for one enjoy them because they personalize the client and look more in depth into their history, back round, substance abuse, ethnicity, legal issues and so forth. It is a lengthy process but is essential in the recovery process. Sometimes clients will be very brief and reluctant to open up and sometimes you will have someone be quite honest and thorough. A therapist is there to help the client understand their past and help them to progress through to their future. Therapy can improve a clients self worth, help them become self sufficient and have a more positive outlook in life. Clients sometimes feel broken, worthless, and are unaware of the problems that got them in treatment. With a little help from their therapist to talk it out and work through these issues, it can be a life changing experience. Sometimes this is where the multidisciplinary team will have to step in as well. Therapy ranges from multiple specialties. Clients sometimes have PTSD or trama that another therapist might have more knowledge in and could better assist the client. Sometimes therapist specialize in different therapies that their primary cannot.  As a team of professionals, we always want our clients to get the best level of care and with willingness from their part, we strive to make this a productive outcome for everyone involved.

The third step after the client sees their therapist is usually to see a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is an essential part in the early recovery process in order for the client to be stabilized and in the right frame of mind. Depending on the treatment center, more than often the facility is a dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis helps with not only substance abuse but also mental disorders. Professionals will sometimes miss diagnose or clients will not stay on top of their medication regiment. A fresh and new diagnoses or confirmation that they have been diagnosed properly would be the first step with the psychiatrist. I know from experience that if a client has depression, bi-polar, and/or ADHD, and cannot function in groups/meetings, they are not going to get everything they can out of the program or can even retain information. Many people, before they decide to change their life with professional help, will self medicate. This is not a preferred method in the recovery process, therefore, psychiatry is a must.

After a client has been assigned a therapist, referred to the psychiatrist and possibly put on a medication regiment, the client will become acclimated in their living situation. Sometimes this can happen before they see their therapist and psychiatrist but, this is assuming the client came to treatment in the morning to the clinical part of the facility. The behavioral or mental health technicians play a vital role in the individuals recovery. Behavioral health technicians are extremely important in the observation and reporting any incidents the client might face while in treatment. Their job is to check on the well being and behavioral status of the clients multiple times a day. They transport constantly throughout the day to self help meetings, spiritual organizations, grocery stores, pharmacy’s, outings, gyms, to and from groups, and any other places that the facility needs them to go. From time to time, you will have behavioral alterations that take deescalating from the behavioral health techs. Clients might be on special watch from the clinical team because of suicidal ideations or thoughts. The techs connect with the clinical team usually through an email or confidential system that will keep them up to date with the clients progress or non compliant behaviors. If it wasn’t for the BHT, the clinical team wouldn’t know the all the different types of behaviors or things they need to address with the client when they are out of offices. It has been observed that clients will usually be on their best behavior while in clinical groups when administration are present.  Sometimes the real test is how they act on the outside.

The last but not least addition to the multidisciplinary team is the case manager.  Essentially, the case managers job is to help the individual become a productive member of society. The case manager is an advocate for the client in any legal issues they might have, jobs, resumes, government assistance, personal money accounts, home planning, and when the client should be discharged. They may also aid in communication with probation officers and any ongoing legal proceedings. They evaluate the individuals satisfaction with the facility and that the right quality of care is being met. Many clients need help with getting acclimated in society by getting a job and even getting their high school diploma or college degree. Case managers job is an extremely important phase in the individuals development if they want to move forward in life.

In conclusion, the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to service coordination is not a one person job. Each and every professional team member is essential if the individual is to recover. Not everyone can go through life without a little help and therefore service coordination is important if you look to have any success in the health industry. Of course there is a discharge plan that needs to come into place once the individual leaves the facility. The treatment team will come together and design a individualized plan for the client that every one including the client can agree on. Speaking from a professional and person in recovery myself,  if we can help one person to recover successfully,  all this hard work has paid off and it is considered a job well done.