Psychiatry & Medication Management
Psychiatric medications are one of the primary methods used to treat the symptoms of mental health disorders. A wide range of new and long-standing medicines are proven to safely reduce mental health symptoms to help people living with these conditions lead more normal lives. Some medications are used for the long-term maintenance of conditions. Others may be used as needed to relieve periodic or intense episodes, as is sometimes the case with breakthrough anxiety, panic attacks, and other acute episodes.
The work of experienced psychiatrists and psychopharmacologists, physicians who diagnose and treat mental health conditions, is finding the medication or medications and dosages that best meet each patient’s needs. Many factors inform a psychiatrist’s recommended medication plan, including other medical conditions and medications, personal health risk factors that may preclude the use of some medications, family history of medication effectiveness, side effects, and more.
Psychiatrists need to monitor patients taking psychiatric medications, especially when patients begin new medications. Like SSRIs used to treat anxiety and depression, some medicines require days or weeks to achieve maximum effect. Prescribers sometimes start patients on a minimal dose and gradually increase the dosage as the medication’s effect and tolerance become apparent over days or weeks. Careful monitoring ensures that patients are not experiencing negative side effects or any other adverse physical reactions. Blood tests are sometimes used to verify that patients are tolerating medications and that they are not experiencing adverse side effects.
The Futures medical team, including Medical Director, Dr. Gloria Dunkin, assesses existing patient prescriptions and optimize medication plans. A client’s existing prescriptions will be evaluated upon their arrival. In some cases, the Futures care team may recommend changing or discontinuing a medication or trying a new medication if previous prescriptions were not effective in producing the desired result.
An experienced psychiatrist’s ability to observe patients while adjusting medications is a primary benefit of this residential program. Evaluating medication response in real-time can significantly streamline finding an optimal medication plan for each client.
Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy, is a primary method of treating mental health disorders. There are numerous evidence-based psychotherapeutic modalities effective at treating different mental health conditions, and some work better for some people than others. Oftentimes, clinicians will be skilled in multiple modalities to make treatment as effective as possible.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a goal directed therapeutic approach intended to deepen one’s understanding of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected. CBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that has proven to be effective for various conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders, and other mental health disorders. Research suggests that CBT can lead to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life.
CBT is based on several core principles, including the tenets that psychological challenges are at least partly based on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking. Furthermore, psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior. With the help of CBT, patients can adopt more appropriate ways of coping, thereby improving their mental health symptoms.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
The MH Program focuses on the mind, body, and ability to utilize skills during challenging times. Individual and group dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based therapy used to help build mastery by teaching patients to live in the moment, develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with other people.
DBT can help patients who have difficulty with emotional regulation or are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders and substance use disorders. DBT was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD) but has since been adapted to treat other mental health conditions, including depression, drug and alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that uses therapeutic exploration and one’s sense of curiosity to resolve uncertainty and indecision by finding the internal motivation required to change behavior. It is a practical, empathetic process that acknowledges how difficult it is to make life changes.
Motivational interviewing is frequently utilized in addiction treatment and the management of physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. MI helps motivate patients to change behaviors that are preventing them from making healthier choices. It can also prepare individuals for other, more specific therapies.
Futures provides individual and group therapy. The program’s emphasis on supportive community connection means that much of Future’s programming is conducted in group settings.
Group therapy entails one therapist facilitating a group of clients. Group therapy sessions can be used to impart psychoeducation, practice coping skills, and share experiences and thoughts among group members. Group therapy is a safe and guided setting in which clients learn, share, and grow together.
Group therapy offer numerous benefits. Participants often find comfort and normality in being able to relate to others who share their experiences with mental health conditions. Patients can feel inspired by the example of others, find catharsis in the ability to help and comfort other group members, and learn vital insights about how to better manage their conditions.
Group therapy sessions are often oriented around topics that are relevant to the members of the group. Oftentimes, topics relate to ways of dealing with common life challenges including, work/life balance, family issues, and relationships. Other topics might include how to manage ongoing healthcare, self-care practices, and mindfulness.
When we understand the conditions we experience, we are better able to manage them. Psychoeducation teaches patients about their mental health conditions, symptoms, treatments, medications used, and managing symptoms. Patients in the Futures Mental Health Program receive psychoeducation during group and individual therapy sessions.
The process of learning about one’s mental health conditions can be cathartic. Many people, especially those who may have been living with untreated conditions for a long time, take comfort in knowing that many others share the issues they’re facing and that there are effective treatments. Being educated also makes people better healthcare consumers and patients. Having a working knowledge of symptoms, psychotherapeutic approaches, and medications used to treat these disorders gives patients the information they ask the right questions to their doctors and when they may need additional support.
Educating family members and loved ones
When family members understand the conditions their loved ones are experiencing, they are better able to be supporters and allies. Futures teaches family members about their loved one’s conditions, the treatment approaches being used, medications being used, and how to identify when their loved one may need more support. Becoming informed about our loved one’s mental health conditions can be empowering and comforting for loved ones.