The New Year is a great time to reflect on skills

By: Dr. Cheri Shapiro, Director

Happy New Year!

As with many parts of our lives, the new year offers and opportunity for a new start, which often means new goals. As professionals interested in the delivery of evidence-based approaches to help youth and families address mental health and/or substance use challenges, now is a great time to evaluate your practice.

Implementation of evidence-based approaches requires us first to decide what problem we most often encounter. We can then scan the literature to find out what is already known about treatment for the particular issue we are interested in, and for whom these treatments may be most effective. The next step is to inventory our professional skills and abilities, and decide if we have the component skills necessary to deliver the interventions that research has shown to be the most effective.

Effective treatments for youth and families may involve a very wide range of skills, from teaching descriptive praise to helping caregivers promote skills in children and adolescents, to building a fear ladder or understanding how to effectively use exposure for treating anxiety, to behavioral activation to treat depression. It is highly unlikely that each of us possess the wide-ranging component skill sets needed to treat the challenges that families with children and adolescents are facing. Thus, our greatest professional challenge is understanding what our clients need most from us, and whether we are able to deliver specific practices needed to be effective.

The new year is an excellent time to read, reflect, and seek out the multitude of resources that are readily available to help us master the specific skills we need to be the best help to those that we serve. We can, and we will, make a difference!

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