Mountainside uses an integrative approach to addiction treatment, and if you’ve ever wondered what that means exactly, our own Alexandra Helfer explains in this interview with Addiction Blog. The interview shares some great features of the Mountainside program, including our holistic approach to recovery, individualized wellness plans, and commitment to innovative, complementary offerings like acupuncture, yoga, and essential oil therapy.
Integrative Care in Addiction Treatment
The need for an integrative approach to meet complex needs of people with mental disorders, including substance use disorders, has sparked the development of specialized mental health and addiction treatment services. Here, we discuss the main concepts underlying the Integrated Care Model, the usefulness of its implementation, and its efficacy in the lives of the addicts.
In this interview, Alexandra Helfer, LPC, LADC, and Vice President of Program Development at Mountainside Treatment Center, shares experience on how this treatment model works. We’ll explore the advantages of using the Integrative Care Model in addiction treatment as well as its limitations. Hopefully, this will give you better insight in the improvement of the modern approach to addiction treatment.
If you have any additional questions or want to share personal thoughts, please use the comments section at the end. We try to respond to all questions with a personal and prompt reply.
ADDICTION BLOG: Can you introduce to us the main concept and principles of the Integrated Care Model?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: Integrated Care Model means a dedicated coordination of the following treatment services: substance abuse, mental health, and medical. In order to treat a client for a substance related disorder, a practitioner or facility must look at the big picture and not focus on only the presenting issue.
ADDICTION BLOG: Why have you chosen to adopt this model over others (Ex. The Matrix Model, 12 Step, or Continuum of Care models)?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: The Integrated Care Model treats the client through the lens “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” We truly believe that in order to give our clients the best chance at a lifelong recovery, substance abuse cannot be the sole treatment component. The substance(s) they are using are only a behavior, not who they are as a person. For complete wellness, we must address the deeper issues that lead the person to misuse substances.
ADDICTION BLOG: What are the main factors that vary in an individualized drug or alcohol rehab plan?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: At Mountainside, we recognize that every client’s needs are different and so the Wellness Plans naturally vary by individual. Clinicians work in partnership with each client to develop a Wellness Plan that is based on the client’s strengths, preferences, and needs. The Wellness Plans are reviewed weekly and adjusted based on progress. The main factors that vary are the specific interventions utilized and what frequency they are completed to accomplish the objective.
ADDICTION BLOG: What are some examples of client strengths and weaknesses that inform a treatment plan?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: Over the course of a 12-month period we see more than 1,000 clients. The strengths and barriers identified that inform a treatment plan can vary drastically. Some common barriers that clients identify are:
- inability to identify a strength
- mental health issues
- inability to remember a time when they were sober
- being unable to identify sober activities
Many clients, when they first come into treatment, have difficulty identifying strengths. When someone is able to, the most common are the following: hard worker, dedicated, good listener, outgoing, athletic. It is our goal to turn clients’ strengths into a means of empowerment, to take that strength and turn it into a way for the client to help him/herself in recovery. For example, if a client identifies a strength as “athletic,” we would incorporate that into their Wellness Plan by referring them to one of our physical fitness classes, along with looking into athletic teams they could participate in as a sober activity in their local community.
ADDICTION BLOG:Are there some core therapies that every client receives?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: As part of the Integrated Care Model, all of our clients receive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Mind Body Spirit therapies as well as experiential therapy. We also offer a variety of other integrative health therapies that are client specific, based on presenting needs and clinical recommendations.
ADDICTION BLOG: What are some of the limitations of the Integrative Care Model in addiction treatment?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: The Integrative Care Model itself does not have many limitations. Limitations come into play when a client is only at the facility for a short period of time. The longer a client stays within the continuum of care Mountainside provides, the more effective the Integrated Care Model will be.
ADDICTION BLOG: What types of new modalities does Mountainside use that other treatment centers are not using?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: Mountainside’s commitment to the Integrated Care Model allows for the use of certain treatment modalities on a regular basis that are not always offered at other facilities, such as:
- Qi Gong
- Sitting and Reading Meditation
- Sweat Lodge
- High and Low Ropes Course
Each of these complement our traditional treatment modalities. At Mountainside, we pride ourselves on being innovative and often introduce new holistic therapies to meet the needs of our diverse client community. We’ve recently added Pharmacogenetic Testing along with Essential Oil Therapy to our services.
ADDICTION BLOG: There are new ways of treating physical health while simultaneously addressing the emotional condition of clients. Do you use modalities that work on the subconscious level? If so, how do you assign and assess these type of treatment?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: At Mountainside, we have found a direct link between physical health and emotional health. By treating the physical health, we have the emotional conditions of clients improve as well. A popular expression in the recovery community is “move a muscle, change a thought.” We integrate that belief into our programming by offering daily yoga classes, cardio classes, hikes, and adventure based activities like Sweat Lodges, High/Low Ropes, etc.
ADDICTION BLOG: How often do clients at Mountainside “choose” treatment modalities?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: Clients have choices over treatment modalities on a daily basis. We have a “core” schedule that each client follows, and within that core schedule there are options as to which modality they would like to utilize that day.
Clinical recommendations are always given as guidance when it appears a client would benefit from a specific modality. Mountainside also has individualized services that clients can choose from, or often, these services are also recommended by a member of our clinical and/or medical team.
ADDICTION BLOG: What has been one of the most frequently highest-rated or favorite client modality reported?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: Our highest-rated modalities are our daily small clinical process groups which utilize a range of modalities on a regular basis.
Our clients also express significant satisfaction with our Mind Body Spirit modalities along with our experiential offerings. A particular client favorite is a three-day, two-night, Change In Action trip on the mountain where clients journey in a small group with staff facilitators to explore alternative ways to address current needs and reconnect with nature and each other. A majority of our clients also express great satisfaction with our individualized yoga, acupuncture, and personal empowerment sessions.
ADDICTION BLOG: What are some of the latest lessons you’ve learned from patients who finish your program?
MOUNTAINSIDE TREATMENT CENTER: We have learned that our clients are very appreciative of the holistic approach of Mountainside’s care.
Our client feedback surveys have confirmed the benefit and need for Integrated Health. It is especially gratifying to know that many of our program’s alumni continue to practice the various therapeutic activities they learned while at Mountainside in their daily lives back home. We often hear how yoga, meditation, hikes, and even a general state of mindfulness helps our alumni to stay on their individual paths of recovery.