In a historically male-dominated healthcare world, we are SO PROUD of this female-led team. I mean, just look at these dynamic women on our staff at Banyan Tree Counseling & Wellness!!
Last month Jordan Peterson, MEd, our Educational Consultant/Advocate (AND Counselor-in-Training-- yes, she has 2 separate roles at Banyan!), and our founder/Executive Director Chantal Hayes, LCMHC-S, travelled to sunny Fort Lauderdale, FL to participate in the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule 2nd Edition (ADOS-2) Clinical Training. We are so proud to be able to offer this clinical tool to our "toolbox" at Banyan Tree and help where needed!
Here are some photos from our time in FL for the training. Our instructor, Jennifer Endre Olson, PsyD, was AMAZING!! Dr. Olson is an internationally recognized Pediatric Neuropsychologist who has worked with Catherine Lord, Ph.D., who is widely recognized as the foremost authority in the early diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders and co-developer of the ADOS-2.
We're grateful we had the opportunity to train with Dr. Olson and are looking forward to providing ADOS-2 assessments soon!
It is incredibly important for parents to understand the importance of early diagnosis and support when it comes to their child and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Early diagnosis of autism can allow a child to receive resources and supports that will help them in their development, both socially and academically, as well as provide direction for clinical intervention and treatment planning.
When identifying a potential diagnosis of autism, an assessment is normally conducted. This usually includes observations, interviews with parents or caregivers, language assessments, cognitive testing, play-based assessment and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule 2nd Edition (ADOS-2). The ADOS-2 is an assessment tool designed to help identify Autism Spectrum Disorder in children ages 12 months through adults of all ages. Results from this assessment do not necessarily equal a clinical diagnosis, but it helps provide valuable information about the individual's social communication skills and differences in behavior patterns indicative of autism.
Early detection of autism is essential for successful intervention and providing useful support for children and their families. Early intervention can improve outcomes for many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, allowing them to learn new skills faster than if they had waited until later in life. Furthermore, research has shown that early interventions can lead to improved functioning in areas such as communication, language development, motor control, social interaction and problem solving skills throughout life.
For parents who have a child receiving an autism diagnosis, it is important that they are supported emotionally during this time. It can be an overwhelming experience learning of your child’s needs while navigating through the treatment options available to you all at once. Parents may need assistance finding local professionals that specialize in diagnosing or working with ASD; local organizations that offer supports for families with members on the spectrum; or even therapy services dedicated to helping families cope with the stress associated with having someone on the autistic spectrum living within their home environment.
At Banyan Tree Counseling & Wellness, we understand firsthand how difficult it can be when a family is concerned that their child may be on the autism spectrum, which is why we have recently begun offering the ADOS-2 assessment tool to assist individuals in their journey to understanding, and as they navigate all aspects of their lives - socially, academically, physically and emotionally.
We understand how stressful this process can be so our team makes sure that each family member feels heard throughout every step of this journey towards understanding their child’s needs better in order to make informed decisions about what resources are best suited for them moving forward.
Reach out to us today if you are interested in learning more. We look forward to connecting with you!
*Please note that although the ADOS-2 is recognized as the "gold standard" for assessing for Autism, we do not provide a clinical diagnosis, and this assessment is not intended to be the sole contributor in making a clinical diagnosis. For individuals to receive a comprehensive clinical diagnosis, multiple sources must contribute towards determining their status; these include reports from developmentally informative caregivers or others close with them, objective behavioral observations both during and outside the test itself, alongside experienced and qualified clinicians’ judgement.
If you require a comprehensive clinical diagnosis, which is sometimes required to access support within certain educational entities, workplaces, organizations, etc, we advise you to request a clinical diagnosis through your Primary Care Physician or Psychiatrist. We are glad to provide your full report of your ADOS-2 results to your physician, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist, and collaborate with them to assist in determining a clinical diagnosis and/or further recommendations.
Spotlight on: Brittany Kai!
BTC licensed therapist Brittany Kai, LCMHC, LPCC, was recently asked to speak at the Diversity & Inclusion Town Hall at Novant Health. She used this platform to discuss the importance of maternal mental health and shared how quality mental health services have historically not been easily accessible or made a priority for women in the US. Below is Brittany's write-up in the D&I newsletter for August 2022.
We are so grateful to have Brittany on the BTC team, helping women every day with reproductive and maternal mental health.
Brittany accepts BCBS (most plans), Carolina Behavioral Health Alliance, Aetna, United HealthCare, Gilsbar, Oxford, and Oscar Insurance. To schedule an appointment with Brittany, contact us here.
Psychotropic Medications 101
In the practice of psychotherapy, therapists learn about and utilize many tools to help our clients find lasting change, improving their overall mental health and wellbeing, and psychotropic medications can be one of those tools.
It is important to realize that not everyone needs medication to treat their mental health symptoms, and not everyone who needs medication will need it forever. The purpose of this article is to provide basic education about psychotropic medications, because I find that most of my clients who take psychotropic medications are under-educated about them, and many clients who do not take medications are scared to start for the same reason.
How do psychotropic medications affect the brain?
Mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc…) are a result of chemical imbalances in the brain, specifically of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. These chemical imbalances can be endogenous (genetic factors, internally caused), exogenous (life events, trauma, external factors), or both. Psychotropic medications work to create balance in neurotransmitters by adjusting how the receptors in the brain absorb the chemical, effectively reducing negative symptoms. Different medications work on different neurotransmitters, and it varies individually what each person’s brain needs or will respond to, depending on symptoms and brain chemistry.
What are the types of psychotropic medication?
Used to treat Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorders, Severe Depression and Severe Anxiety.
Used to treat the mood swings of Bipolar Disorder, and sometimes to enhance the effect of other medications when treating Depression. Reduce excitability in the brain, to calm overstimulated and overactive neurons. Many anticonvulsant medications are used as mood stabilizers. Examples: Lithium (Eskalith), Depakote (Divalproex Sodium), Lamictal (Lamotrigine), Tegretol (Carbamazepine), Topamax (Topiramate), Trileptal (Oxcarbazepine)
Used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), increase dopamine and norepinephrine. Can be addictive and can easily form a dependence. Examples: Adderall (Amphetamine), Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine), Focalin (dexmethylphenidate), Ritalin/Concerta (methylphenidate), Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine)
Who can prescribe psychotropic medications?
While a licensed therapist or counselor may be knowledgeable about psychotropic medications, only medical professionals can prescribe them. The medical professionals with the most knowledge and training in prescribing psychoactive medications are Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) that have completed residency and training in psychiatry. Most psychiatrists do not engage in talk therapy; they focus on symptom and medication management in brief (15-20 minute) appointments.
Other medical professionals able to prescribe psychotropic medications are Primary Care Physicians (MD/GP), Physician Assistants (PA), Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP), Nurse Practitioners (NP), Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), and Gynecologists/Obstetricians (OB/GYN).
How do I know if I need psychotropic medications?
In my practice, for someone who is not currently taking psychotropic medications, I will generally recommend medications if we seem to continue hitting a wall with ongoing negative symptoms, despite all reasonable efforts to improve them. If adding structure, recognizing and changing thinking, improving overall physical health, learning emotional identification and expression, and addressing spiritual health doesn’t improve symptoms markedly, this indicates to me that the symptoms are endogenous in nature, and need chemical help to mitigate.
What do I need to be aware of if I start taking psychotropic medications?
All medications generally have some risk of side-effects, some more troublesome than others. Speaking with your prescribing physician and doing your own research are important before starting on any psychotropic medication. Most common side-effects for psychotropic medications are disturbances in sleep and appetite. Some of these can be mitigated by adjusting the time of day they are taken (morning if the medication is activating to your brain at night), and taking them with food to reduce nausea.
Research has shown that the most effective treatment for mental health disorders is a combination of medication and therapy. Taking psychotropic medications without including therapy will not result in lasting change and improvement in symptoms. For real and sustained life change, medications can help provide enough of a lift or relief of symptoms so work can happen in therapy, to prevent recurrence of negative symptoms.
Join us for an Open House!
...it's time to celebrate!!
Please join us on Tuesday, September 7th at 12:00pm for a ribbon cutting ceremony/open house to celebrate the (delayed due to COVID) grand opening of our new location!
Jamie is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor specializing in adult and childhood trauma, addictions, disordered eating, grief and loss, and co-occurring disorders. She has experience working with both chemical and process addictions, specifically their root in trauma, and is passionate about helping individuals enter and maintain recovery, utilizing therapy, psychoeducation, and community supports.
We are a team of licensed clinicians with a holistic, strengths-based, and evidence-based approach. We offer counseling for people of all ages, life coaching, group therapy, educational consulting and advocacy, assessments, and dietary nutrition services.