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Training Opportunities Support Mental Health Professionals

Development opportunities provide Kaiser Permanente therapists with the chance to share their knowledge with others while gaining information they can use in providing the best care to their patients.

What we know and understand about behavioral health is constantly developing. Bringing together the best minds to share the best practices is Kaiser Permanente’s goal as it supports the professional development of its mental health clinicians and staff.

“We want our members to have access to the best care, and our employees to have access to the best training possible,” said John Peters, PhD, associate director, Outcomes & Technology for Regional Mental Health, Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

That’s why Kaiser Permanente supports therapists and other employees with professional development opportunities, trainings, and chances to engage with fellow practitioners not only within Kaiser Permanente but outside as well.

Cutting-Edge Topics

Kathryn Wetzler, PsyD, regional director of Mental Health Training Programs NCAL, gave some specific examples of how Kaiser Permanente does that for mental health providers.

“Every year, the mental health training programs in Northern California offer trainings on cutting-edge topics such as mind-body medicine, sleep disorders, and cultural competence in clinical practice, to name a few. The presenters are world renowned and considered leaders in their respective fields,” said Dr. Wetzler.

She added that practitioners may get time off to attend trainings and a significant sum for tuition reimbursement, some of which can be used for travel expenses.

“These trainings support our mental health providers in remaining current with new ideas and research,” said Dr. Wetzler.

The Kaiser Permanente mental health training program sponsors and sends staff and trainees to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual conference. That’s just one of about a dozen conferences that the program sponsors each year. These are not only good for training, but also for recruitment and increasing the organization’s diversity pipeline.

Glenda O’Sullivan, LMFT, is a behavioral health manager in the Adult Outpatient Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento and Elk Grove. She said she has appreciated the training opportunities Kaiser Permanente has provided.

“I have attended several, including ‘Motivating Change in Groups,’ ‘Motivating Change in Individuals,’ and one on post-partum in mental health, to name a few,” said O’Sullivan. “When the clinicians are supported in staying current with the latest evidence-based practices, we are able to provide our members with the best care.”

Grants, Projects, Papers

Dr. Peters said any provider can apply for grants, do projects inside Kaiser Permanente, and prepare papers to be shared at the organization’s National Quality Conference and elsewhere. Many practitioners are also part of professional organizations such as the APA and the National Association of Social Workers, for example.

Kaiser Permanente’s structure provides for in-depth collaboration between providers.

“We offer team-based care,” said Dr. Peters. “This is hard to find elsewhere in the community. In addition, our practitioners engage in peer case consultation groups. We use our own patient data, update treatment plans with input from our colleagues, and rehearse interventions, to increase our effectiveness.”

O’Sullivan said, “I have been lucky enough to have been selected a number of years ago to be part of the regional initiative focusing on Achieving Clinical Excellence (ACE). This committee has been working on bringing the use of outcome measures and feedback-informed care (FIC) to the local service areas throughout Kaiser Permanente Northern California.”

Kaiser Permanente therapists: If you are interested in learning about opportunities for professional development or participation in conferences, please speak with your manager, department quality chair, or service area’s office of continuing medical education.


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