Q & A with Clinical Director Bridgette Fong, LMHC
Q: In your experience what is the key to developing a good clinical team?
A: The key to developing a good clinical team includes having a shared goal to always strive to provide quality care to our clients, the ability to be flexible in a team setting, having knowledgeable staff that are passionate about the field we work in and being able to develop trust. Our current clinical team exhibits all of those qualities as well as many others.
Q: What training programs and staff evaluations are there?
A: At Destination Hope, we offer monthly training opportunities for our clinical team and promote individual, professional growth for each clinician. Staff is evaluated by their supervisor on a quarterly and yearly basis, measuring clinical skills, accountability, overall knowledge about DH practices and growth.
Q: What are the signs of drug or alcohol use that are an indication of what is possibly the development of dependence?
A: Physical signs include lethargy, poor hygiene, changes in appetite, irregular sleep and weight changes. Behavioral signs include changes in hobbies, self-isolation, poor work/school performance, secretive behavior and neglecting responsibilities. Psychological signs include paranoid thoughts, negative self-image, lack of motivation and feelings of disinterest.
Q: And how should a loved one approach the situation?
A: A loved one should approach the situation in an empathetic and caring manner, offering support if possible. They should also reach out to a treatment facility to inquire about their loved one being able to receive professional assistance.
Q: Is your treatment program evidence based and backed by successful outcomes?
A: Yes, at Destination Hope we utilized evidenced-based modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), 12-step approach, Family Therapy, Wellness and Trauma-Specific modalities. With these modalities, we have proven to have long-term successful outcomes based on surveys conducted with our alumni.
Q: Is there a dedicated case manager involved in all aspects of each patient’s treatment plan?
A: Yes, we offer a dedicated Case Manager, who is involved in all aspects of client’s treatment from the very first day a client admits. Our case management team assists with tasks such as aftercare planning, vocational services, FMLA, financial hardship, housing placement post-treatment and securing outpatient appointments upon discharge.
Q: Many people who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction also have a co-occurring mental health condition, such as anxiety or depressions. How do you assess for an accurate dual diagnosis?
A: It is very common for people who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction to also have a co-occurring mental health condition. In order for us to assess for an accurate diagnosis, all new admissions participate in a psychiatric evaluation with our medical staff and are assessed by the clinical team using evidenced-based tools to screen symptoms/history.
Q: How do you monitor the progress of treatment?
A: We monitor the progress of treatment by conducting periodic treatment plan reviews, weekly psychiatric follow-up appointments, weekly individual sessions and assessing each client’s individual growth since admission. Because it is such a unique journey for each client, we utilize multiple forms of monitoring throughout a client’s treatment episode.
Q: Describe what actions you’d take if you noticed deterioration in a patient’s physical or mental well-being.
A: Some of the actions we would take if we noticed deterioration in a client’s physical or mental well-being include speaking to the clinical and medical team to identify a course of action to stabilize, reaching out to the client’s loved ones to relay the recommendation, discussing the options available with the client, which can include stepping a client up to a higher level of care to gain stability.
Q: How would you handle a patient who refuses to follow an essential step of their treatment program, such as taking medication or participating in group therapy?
A: We always try to meet a client where they are at, so the first step would be to explore where this ambivalence is coming from, if there is anything that the client feels they are missing from the treatment process. We then encourage the client by discussing positive outcomes from medication/participating in group therapy, reaching out to family members for added support and identifying concrete goals for treatment with the client’s involvement.
Q: How do you orient a newcomer who may be overwhelmed?
A: We have an orientation protocol that includes many frequently asked questions, what to expect in the treatment setting, identified staff members that client can reach out to for support and a big brother/big sister system that entails clients who are already familiar with the program helping the newcomer feel safe and welcomed. We also provide the ability for client to speak with loved ones who are supportive of treatment and can encourage the treatment process.
Q: What kind of aftercare support do you offer?
A: We have a dedicated alumni department that every client who completes treatment with Destination Hope is welcome to be involved with. Our alumni department offers aftercare support through hosting weekly alumni meetings, monthly team building outings and has a support group via social media. We also make sure to keep in contact with our clients to ensure that they are following aftercare recommendations and offer any support that may be needed.
Q: And what is your “why”? What are you most passionate about in your job as Clinical Director here at DH?
A: This is a loaded question with many answers, but I will certainly try! As a licensed mental health counselor, my “why” includes having worked in a number of clinical settings, including mental health, substance use and dual diagnosis with children, adolescents, couples, adults and families. What I find myself to be the most passionate about in my role as the Clinical Director here at DH is definitely my work with the clinical staff that I supervise, allowing them a space for learning, introducing new interventions and providing them with support/guidance when working with clients who may be challenging at times. I am also passionate about my interactions with all the clients we treat, providing them with a different approach and opportunity to gain insight. I feel that this role allows me to still provide therapeutic services while also educating the clinicians on interventions that can be useful in this population. It is a very rewarding career choice, and I couldn’t be happier with my team.