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Easier Triage, Better Treatment of Mental Health Issues

September 22, 2015

If you had the opportunity to identify, rehabilitate and strengthen distressed families would you seize it? Guy Diamond, PhD and director of Family Intervention Science, is working diligently to make that opportunity a reality for medical, mental health and social work providers in Philadelphia and across the United States. Diamond’s innovative tools and unique approach to therapy have the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare providers identify and begin conversations about mental health.

Diamond’s web-based, mental health screening tool is the first step in identifying individuals who suffer from mental health issues. The screening tool, which is currently used at 40 primary care sites and projected to reach nearly 1,000 sites within the next two years, has the capacity to cover 13 different mental health domains in just seven minutes.

“Our goal is integration of mental health into medical settings- emergency rooms, primary care, and hospitals,” said Diamond. “We want to develop products for those who don’t treat mental health conditions for a living but confront it all the time.” Diamond believes that his web-based tool is the first step to increasing knowledge of mental health conditions and comfort when speaking with affected patients.

While the tool helps identify characteristics of mental health conditions, Diamond knows that there needs to be follow-up with a professional. “Our screening tool is the beginning of the conversation, but it helps provide a better organized, more focused conversation.”

To close the loop between detection and treatment, Diamond developed an empirically-recognized treatment called Attachment-Based Family Therapy (ABFT). ABFT is different from other therapies because it focuses on the parent in the context of the family.

“Our model focuses on attachment and empowering parents to feel confident to provide an appropriate nurturing environment for their children,” said  Diamond. By building individual sessions with the parent and clinician into the care model, parents are able work through barriers they may face to providing adequate care to their children. “We see the parent as our patient, and we try to embrace the parent.”

What’s different about ABFT, according to Diamond, is the opportunity for parents to work through any psychological or historical factors that can be impeding their ability to function as the parents they need to be. By working through these issues, parents can make themselves more available to their children and ultimately reconnect the entire family.

While ABFT may not be new therapy technique, Diamond hopes to bring his unique model to various provider agencies. By equipping mobile therapists and other care providers with ABFT techniques, Diamond’s model has the potential to touch even more families.

“At the end of the day, we want to help families serve as a stronger safety net for kids at risk.” Through the use of his computer-based screening tool and ABFT, Diamond hopes to revive hope one family at a time.

Guy Diamond, PhD, will be presenting at the October 20th BAYADA Home Health Care Speaker Series. Click here for more information.