Behavioral specialists: supporting patients as they seek lasting change

Posted on 06/16/20 03:11:pm Behavioral specialist

 

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For patients struggling with mental health challenges, a behavioral specialist is an integral part of the therapeutic team at Rogers Behavioral Health.

“A behavioral specialist spends several hours a day, every day of treatment with patients,” says Rochelle Mendoza, behavioral specialist in the OCD and Anxiety and Depression Recovery programs for children and adolescents at Rogers’ clinic in San Francisco East Bay. “The best thing about my job is I get to see the treatment work.”

What does a behavioral specialist do?

1. Build rapport.

“It’s really important to build trust and a good relationship with patients,” says Mendoza. “We meet patients where they are at. We see them when they are at a low point in their lives, and they share very personal things. We have to be compassionate and nonjudgmental, but sometimes we need to have hard conversations and point out things people need to work on.”

2. Provide psychoeducation.

“We do a lot of psychoeducation,” says Amy Bahr, behavioral specialist in the OCD and anxiety program for children and adolescents in Kenosha. “Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a main component of evidence-based treatment at Rogers. We work closely with the patients to help them understand the connection between their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.”

3. Develop hierarchies and create exposures.

“We work with patients to create lists of things that make them uncomfortable and afraid. We help the patients rate each item of the lists then we create exposures for the patients to help them work through their challenges and build confidence,” says Bahr.

“We dissect what’s going on in terms of what someone is struggling with so we can turn a struggle into an exposure,” adds Mendoza. “We push patients to face their fears or do things they would normally love to do but have stopped doing due to depression or aren’t able to do because of OCD or anxiety. Exposures help patients gradually accept something that is hard or causes them anxiety.”

4. Communicate with families.

We participate in family meetings and correspond with family members. We work to help them understand the process of recovery and guide them on how to best support the patient,” says Mendoza.

5. Foster independence.

While we take the lead when it comes to patient exposures, we also want to foster a sense of independence, so patients are confident they have the skills they need when they leave,” says Mendoza.

More than 200 behavioral specialists are employed across the Rogers system. Both Bahr and Mendoza say the work they do to help patients rise above their mental health challenges is very fulfilling.

“It’s rewarding to be there and support patients,” says Bahr. “We are right there with our patients as they experience success in overcoming things they haven’t been able to address on their own.”

Working with patients has helped Rochelle grow personally, too. “Working every day to help people face their fears and anxieties has caused me to look at myself and say, if they can do it, so can I!”

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, Rogers offers specialized,  evidence-based treatment nationwide. Call  800-767-4411 or request a free, confidential screening online.

If you are interested in becoming a behavioral specialist or exploring other career opportunities with Rogers, visit rogersbh.org/careers.

Call 800-767-4411 or go to rogersbh.org to request a free screening.