In the first part of this series on treatment planning, we focused on what constitutes a treatment plan. If you remember, “A treatment plan is a document outlining the proposed goals, plan, and therapy method to be used by you and your professional. This plan directs the steps the mental health professional and you must take to help you heal.”

This article will focus on what encompasses a treatment team and how having one can help you heal safely and productively.

What is a Treatment Team?

You might be wondering, what is a treatment team? The phrase refers to all the people who are working with you to help you heal. This team includes both mental health professionals, those in the field of medicine, and others you may not have thought about. Each treatment team member has specific skills and unique roles in your treatment process, and they work together, along with you, to reach your goals of healing.

A treatment team is comprised of unique individuals with special training, skills, and education that make them vital to reaching your optimum mental and physical health. While each team member is critical, each role they play is different, yet they work together as partners.

A treatment team is a partnership of specialists, with each member having a job to do and agreements to keep. Their goal is not to run your life for you but to allow you to grow and heal so that you can take the reigns and have a more prosperous and healthy relationship with yourself.

Psychiatric Members of Your Treatment Team

A treatment team to treat complex post-traumatic stress disorder will include different disciplines with the same goal, helping you manage your symptoms and heal. This team consists of four highly trained disciplines psychiatrists, advanced practical psychiatric nurses, psychologists, and licensed clinical social works. Below we shall examine each to help you understand what they are and what to expect.

Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors who have specialized in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of mental health disorders. The training of a psychiatrist allows them to treat their clients with counseling (although this is becoming rarer) and medications when needed.

When sitting with a psychiatrist for the first time, they will ask about any mental and physical symptoms you might have. They might then do a physical exam, bloodwork, and a psychological evaluation of your symptoms.

While psychiatrists often prescribe medications, it is essential to remember there are no magic pills. One cannot become instantly healthy by taking a prescription drug. Sometimes it takes exercise and other treatments too.

Like all the rest of the mental health professionals we shall mention here, psychiatrists utilize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders now in its fifth edition (DSM-5) to decide which illness you might have. This use of the DSM is vital for billing for reimbursement purposes.

Advanced practical psychiatric nurses (APRN). APRNs are masters or doctorate-level nurses trained in the care of mentally challenged people. APRNs include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse-midwives. Advanced practical psychiatric nurses also can be primary caregivers working under the supervision of a psychiatrist.

APRNs can treat and diagnose mental illnesses, manage chronic symptoms, lead therapy groups of individual treatment, and prescribe medicines if required.

Psychologists. Psychologists are mental health professionals who have earned their Ph.D. or PsyD. Psychologists specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health problems. In some states in the U.S., psychologists are allowed to prescribe medications.

Not all psychologists are created the same as there are upwards of twenty different types, including clinical and experimental psychologists.

Psychologists treat adults and children mainly with psychotherapy, aka talk therapy which is a way to help people with a variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties learn to control or eliminate troubling symptoms to function better and increase their well-being.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). These social workers have attained their master’s degree in social work and often work with individuals or families to reach their healing goals.

LCSWs, like psychologists, help people overcome their problems, such as depression or addiction, in groups or individually. LCSWs typically work in clinic settings such as local mental health service offices and do not have the advanced training that psychologists do.

LCSWs can also assist as a case manager to help you find the resources you need, such as housing and food assistance.

Any mixture of the above may be on your treatment team, and each is a vital piece to the puzzle of your personal healing process.

Physical Medical Providers on Your Treatment Team

A healthcare team is a group of professionals who contribute to your care and treatment. Typically, one thinks of members of a healthcare team to be physicians and nurses. However, as you will see, physical practitioners who should be on your treatment team include a wide range of disciplines to treat a wide range of needs.

Physicians. We begin our examination of physical providers with physicians, aka doctors. Physicians are not gods; they are highly trained and credentialed medical specialists who can diagnose, treat, and maintain most medical conditions. Many people look up to doctors, and they should. However, deciding that a doctor can cure all your diseases or know all there is to know about medicine is setting yourself up for disappointment and possibly disaster.

Below is a shortlist of what medical doctors can do that are vital to your care team:

  • Take medical histories
  • Update your chart and information to show current findings and treatment
  • Order medical tests
  • Review your test results
  • Recommend to the team a plan of treatment from the physical perspective
  • Answer your questions and concerns that you have about your well-being

A physician will gather all the pertinent information they can to share and monitor how your treatment is progressing for your treatment team.

The remaining members of a good treatment team listed and explained below are clinicians you might not have thought of as vital to your treatment team. While they may have limited knowledge of your specific mental health challenge, they are nonetheless crucial to your overall health.

Optometrists. Eye doctors are tasked with assessing for all concerns of a patient as part of their care. Care for your eyes is critical, and most optometrists are trained to watch for symptoms of anxiety and depression in their clients.

Impairments such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy can cause mild to acute vision loss, making everyday activities difficult and painful. Your optometrist is aware that these conditions may lead to mental health difficulties and can, with your permission, share what is going on with your eye health and how it is affecting you with your mental health treatment team.

Gynecologists (OBGYNs). OBGYNs are another critical part of a mental health treatment team that is often overlooked. Gynecologists specialize in female reproduction and pregnancy plus perform a wide range of procedures to diagnose and treat gynecological problems in women. Gynecologists are also in charge of sexual health and cancer screening, plus problems with pregnancy.

It is no secret that gynecological problems can have mental health consequences. The loss of a baby or the diagnosis of cancer is only two problems that can cause suffering in women and deterioration of mental health. As such, gynecologists make an excellent addition to your treatment team.

Dentists. Dentists are valuable members of your treatment team and are doctors who specialize in oral health who have the following responsibilities:

  • Diagnosing oral diseases
  • Creating treatment plans to maintain and restore dental health
  • Interpreting x-rays and diagnostic tests
  • Performing surgical procedures on the teeth, soft tissues, and bones of the oral cavity.

Oral problems often cause excruciating pain, and pain can lead to the forming or worsening of a mental health condition. For this reason and pain management, dentists can play a critical role in your treatment team.

Ending Our Time Together

It should be abundantly clear by now that any discipline can be a part of your treatment team, each bringing a different aspect of care to help you heal. Each part of a treatment team compliments the others forming a solid wall of treatment against illnesses such as complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

The most critical treatment team member is you as without your leadership, cooperation, and talents, a treatment team can only do so much. You control what happens to you and cannot depend on your treatment team to do all the work because they cannot.

Just as in all parts of your life, forming and working with a treatment team by following through with their recommendations and making tweaks where necessary can mean the difference between mental illness and mental health.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ~ Steve Maraboli

“Today, I am in control because I want to be. I have my fingers on the switch but have lived a lifetime ignoring the control I have over my own world. Today is different.” ~ A. S. King

If you or a loved one live in the despair and isolation that comes with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please, come to us for help. CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services, including:

All our services are reasonably priced, and some are even free. So, to gain more insight into how complex post-traumatic stress disorder is altering your life and how you can overcome it, sign-up; we will be glad to help you.  If you cannot afford to pay, go to www.cptsdfoundation.org/scholarship to apply for aid. We only wish to serve you.

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