Intensive youth mental health therapy program in Palo Alto is now enrolling

Stanford Children’s Health in collaboration with Children’s Health Council, offers a specialized intervention program that is currently enrolling families for their summer/fall session

“Ensuring that our youth are receiving the appropriate level of mental health care and support is more critical than ever,” says Michele Berk, PhD, Stanford Children’s Health psychologist. Berk and behavioral health experts advocate that a child’s best mental health outcome depends not on one provider but on a cohesive system of care with many touch points, resources and compassionate representatives throughout the community. For young people who struggle with suicidal and/or self-harm urges and behaviors, Stanford Children’s Health in collaboration with Children’s Health Council, offers a specialized intervention program that is currently enrolling families for their summer/fall session.

“An essential component of the continuum of care is intensive outpatient therapy for patients as well as their families.” said Berk who has extensive background in research and clinical expertise in treating patients who experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors or engage in self-harming behaviors.

Berk and her colleagues co-lead the RISE program, which stands for Reaching Interpersonal Self Effectiveness, it is centered on the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) method. DBT includes individual therapy, group skills training with multiple families working together, and having therapist support available 24/7 by phone to the teens and parents.

Since the launch of RISE nearly two years ago, the joint team has treated 110 teens ages 13 to 18 who have struggled with suicidal thoughts, suicidal behaviors and/or self-harm, as well as severe mental health challenges.

 “The RISE program serves a critical role in the community as a bridge between standard outpatient care and inpatient and residential treatment programs,” said Berk.

“RISE provides evidence-based treatment designed to support youth remaining in the home environment during treatment, so they can maintain their typical school and social routines while also working on reducing suicide risk and improving overall mental health.”

Michele Berk, PhD

During the COVID-19 pandemic, RISE has continued to be a resource for teens and families by providing the full intensive outpatient program (IOP) entirely via telehealth. This has enabled teens to continue to get critical treatment services while also sheltering-in-place and coping with the additional stressors related to COVID-19. Telehealth services will continued to be offered until the county has deemed it is safe to return to in-person services.

“We have been pleasantly surprised with how seamless the transition to telehealth has been with the teens and families we treat in the RISE program,” notes Berk. “Both families and RISE clinicians have reported high satisfaction with telehealth services. Providing treatment via telehealth has the benefit of reducing barriers to care for families, such as transportation/commuting, which enables greater parent participation and has allowed us to serve a wider geographical range of patients.”

Berk says that what makes DBT different and more effective than other methods is the multi-component treatment regimen that focuses primarily on skills for changing behaviors, as well as provides contact with the therapist outside of therapy sessions and works on what is called a commitment to change, including a focus on acceptance as well as change. 

The program, typically housed at CHC’s campus in Palo Alto but now offered via telehealth, entails a 12-week course for four days each week. Through a rolling admissions process, families are enrolled every four weeks. The next sessions begin July 6, August 3 and August 31, with participants for each session added up to four weeks prior to the start date. If you are interested in participating in the RISE Intensive Outpatient Program please contact 650-688-3625 or careteam@chconline.org. Learn more at www.chconline.org/rise.

Individuals in crisis can receive help from the Santa Clara County Suicide & Crisis Hotline at (855) 278-4204. Help is also available from anywhere in the United States via Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. All three services are free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Photo courtesy of Children’s Health Council

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