Why communication is key for all providers

By: Dr. Cheri Shapiro, Director

Recently, I have encountered important clinical questions regarding types of treatments.  More specifically, many clients are receiving care by medical professionals as well as mental health or substance use treatment providers.  Medication and psychosocial treatments commonly go hand in hand; in fact, for some conditions, a combined treatment approach (here specifically defined as combining medication and psychosocial interventions) has been found to be most effective for improving overall functioning.  Examples include ADHD and early stage schizophrenia, among others.

One implication of combined treatment approaches is that they involve treatment professionals from different backgrounds working in concert to support those in their care.  This means there is a need for good communication among members of the treatment team, and good communication with the children, youth and families in our care.  The treatment team may include therapists as well as pediatricians, primary care physicians, and/or psychiatrists as experts in their own profession.  However, we are better together than apart.  I am continually surprised by situations in which members of the treatment team are not communicating directly, if at all, or only in crisis situations.

Our highest quality interventions demand excellence in communication with families and with fellow providers.  Opening provider to provider communication channels requires the appropriate permissions and formal, signed releases of information.  This takes time and effort, but it is part of providing the best and highest quality services to those in our care.

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