Among the many challenges faced by mental health and substance abuse clinicians is the difficulty to identify and implement a behavioral health screening and assessment tool that is validated AND can be administered rapidly. Validated instruments go through years of rigorous testing and make it possible for clinicians to quickly screen clients and/or administer a more comprehensive assessment to identify the level of care required.
The eINSIGHT behavioral health data platform empowers your staff to (1) rapidly and accurately assess clients, (2) develop targeted treatment plans, (3) monitor client response to treatment and (4) report on population outcomes to demonstrate program effectiveness.
Some of the key challenges around screening and assessing clients that behavioral health organizations encounter is, one has to do with whether they are using a validated assessment or screener versus a homegrown or an assessment that has some research behind it but hasn’t been able to establish things like construct validity where they confirm that it measures what it says it measures. That’s one of the first mistakes some organizations can make is not using a well researched and validated instrument.
Assuming that they get beyond the same challenges apply for rapid screening, you don’t want to have to spend an hour and half in a structured interview when you’re trying to determine what a particular client’s unique needs and strengths are. Those are certainly traditional processes where clinicians will work with a client, there’s certainly value to them, but you also are going to face the challenge of the way in which the clinician approaches the interview, you’re going to be dealing with the client’s capacity to articulate answers to the question and/or their understanding of the question.
One of the things with validated instruments is they’ve gone through a rigorous series, often years if not decades, to develop question structure and answers that are going to make it possible in a fairly short period of time to accurately get an idea of a) whether this person is at elevated risk, which would be screener; or b) get a comprehensive assessment, and when I say comprehensive assessment, the need for that is that treatment has to target the symptoms or the behaviors or the environmental conditions that are underlying or exacerbating or perpetuating that disorder or those problems.
An assessment has to be comprehensive enough that you are getting an estimate of the severity of challenges in multiple areas of that person’s life. The DUSI, for example, that was developed by Dr. Ralph Tarter has a number of domains of functioning, family systems, social competence, peer relationships, school adjustment, behavior patterns, psychiatric disorders, substance use and so on. What that allows an organization to do is, within about 20-25 minutes with the client answering the questions, it’s a self-report instrument, they have a comprehensive and accurate profile of this client’s needs and strengths.
Where they have challenges, how severe these challenges are and that becomes critical for how they are going to approach treatment. Because 2 people, for example, with a very similar challenge or disorder diagnosed or not, let’s say depression, you can have one client who’s depression is a manifest outcome of substance abuse and another client who has the same clinical symptomology of depression but theirs is actually a manifest problem that’s internal, either genetic disposition or other factors in their life, post traumatic stress, or whatever, but it’s not an outcome of substance abuse. It’s an underlying problem, one is an outcome of a different problem so the way you would treat those 2 people is very different but they both have depression.
Learn how the eINSIGHT platform can empower your staff to quickly and accurately screen and assess clients.
Dr. Weatherbee has spent decades working in education, behavioral health, public health, and more. He has experienced the unique challenges that exist in this field from multiple disciplines. His work in program evaluation lead him to create eINSIGHT to empower behavioral health service providers to improve client outcomes.