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Psychopharmacology Therapists Training

Evidence-based Treatment and Psychopharmacology

Therapist Training

EPT I-600 - Evidence-based Treatment and Psychopharmacology, part I

This course in a nutshell:
Discussion topics: Identify clusters of symptoms relating to DSM diagnostic criteria
Skills: You’ll learn how to develop systematic treatment plans and make referrals for medication evaluation based on factors related to psychopharmacology.
(Pre-requisite: Assessment of Psychological Disorders, APD-400, or equivalent.)

EPT II-600 - Evidence-based Treatment and Psychopharmacology, part II

This course in a nutshell:
Discussion topics: case management, report writing, and advanced treatment strategies for DSM disorders.
Skills: You’ll learn how to incorporate psychopharmacology, therapists’ characteristics, and efficacy of therapeutic approach into treatment for DSM disorders. (Pre-requisite: Assessment of Psych. Disorders, APD-400)

Course Content: Evidence-based Treatments and Psychopharmacology, I & II (ETP-600) offers advanced course materials focusing on important elements of psychopharmacology applied to the treatment of mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM).

This two-part course is designed to offer 120 hours of combined reading, study, and practice exercises. ETP-600 provides essential information on new medications and treatment options; the latest research on side effects, and contraindications; efficacy of all major medications prescribed for mental health disorders; and the effects of withdrawing from psychopharmacological medications.

Students will learn to evaluate symptom criteria, develop evidence-based treatment plans, and deepen their understanding on the use of psychotropic medication for disorders classified in the DSM. The following disorders will be featured:

Bipolar Disorder, Depressive Disorders, Disruptive Child and Adolescent Behavior; Eating Disorders and Obesity; Substance Disorders; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Anxiety Disorders Panic (Disorder, PTSD, and Social Anxiety); Psychotic Disorders; Personality Disorders; Substance-Related Disorders, and other miscellaneous disorders.

Course topics cover:

  • General information applicable to mental health therapists from a variety of backgrounds
  • Assessment protocol to include the 9 domains of the mental status exam
  • Evidence-based treatment planning with emphasis on research supported therapeutic interventions
  • Specific indicators on when a referral for medication may be indicated
  • Facts about drug interactions and side effects
  • Information on how medications affect adults, children, and adolescents
  • Red flags that may indicate a referral for re-evaluation
  • Cultural difference regarding medical treatments.
  • Strategies on how to discontinue medication safely when needed.

The updated seventh edition of the primary text for this course- Handbook of Clinical Psychopharmacology for Therapists has become the go-to resource for mental health clinicians looking for clear, reliable information about the treatment of mental health issues. Organized by disorder and, within each disorder, by medication, this book is designed to familiarize clinicians and students with the basic terminology and models of pharmacokinetics.

In addition, the secondary text, Selecting Effective Treatments: A Comprehensive, Systematic Guide to Treating Mental Disorders offers a systematic, research-based approach to the diagnosis and treatment of the major mental disorders found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The text combines the latest research on evidence-based practices with practical, how-to information on implementation; recognizing that the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders are part of a dynamic and evolving field.

Both texts use numerous case studies to illustrate diagnostic points related to:

  • Trauma and its effect across the lifespan, suicide assessment and prevention, and new treatment approaches, including mindfulness
  • Childhood disorders, including autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and attachment disorder
  • Grief, loss, and bereavement
  • Diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, the schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and the bipolar disorders
  • Treatment strategies for dual diagnosis.

In addition to the in-depth information presented in the text books, a series of videos feature clients who present with symptoms representative of a variety of mental disorders such as: Mood disorders such as Bipolar and Depression; Anxiety Disorders such as PTSD, panic disorder; and social anxiety; Disruptive Child and Adolescent Behavior; Eating Disorders and Obesity; Substance Disorders; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; and Personality Disorders.

Students observe symptoms presented by clients featured in the videos; determine scope-of-practice; develop evidence-based treatment plans and therapeutic interventions; and if the symptoms indicate – determine when and how to write a referral letter to a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation.

Information presented in this course is meant to be used by counsellors and therapists as reference material only. Any clinical conclusions arrived upon as the result of an assessment should be labeled as a ‘speculative diagnosis’ in written reports, case notes, or when communicating with clients or other professionals.

A speculative diagnosis is not intended to substitute for a clinical diagnosis, which can only be determined by registered mental health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, or physicians. However the ability to arrive at a speculative diagnosis gives all counselors a framework in which to evaluate whether or not the client’s presenting issues fall within the counsellor’s scope of practice. According to the Canadian Professional Counselling Association, it is essential for counselors and therapists to recognize and operate only within the scope of one’s training.

Students are expected to be familiar with the following concepts first introduced in the pre-requisite courses, Assessment of Psychological Disorders (APD-400) and Applied Counselling Skills I (ACS-400):

  • The ethical, clinical, and cultural importance of conducting a thorough assessment in the early stages of the counseling process.
  • Writing Case Summary reports and making referral requests.
  • Assessment and evaluation of the Mental Status Exam.
  • Use of the DSM as a framework to conceptualize biological, psychological, social and cultural variables.
  • Social History Assessment procedures
  • Scope of practice determination
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Recognizing clusters of symptoms typical of:
  • depression and other mood disorders
  • anxiety disorders
  • psychotic disorders
  • substance abuse disorders
  • personality disorders
  • eating disorders
  • childhood and adolescent disorders

PORTFOLIO OF JOB SKILLS

Evidence-based Treatments and Psychopharmacology (ETP-600)teaches advanced skills needed to collect information, and arrive at a speculative diagnosis using classifications of mental disorders from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM).

Students learn to identify clusters of symptoms relating to diagnostic criteria in the DSM; and recognize psychopharmacological indicators related to type, severity, and duration of symptoms.

Students also learn how to incorporate the 9 domains of the mental status exam into assessment protocol; develop evidence-based treatment plans and therapeutic interventions; how to recognize symptoms specific to psychopharmacological treatment; when and how to write a referral letter to a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation.

Upon graduation from the Diploma of Applied Psychology and Counselling and fulfilling requirements for a specialized Certificate in Evidence-based Psychotherapy, students may include the following skills as part of their Professional Portfolio:

  • The advanced ability to assess and evaluate symptoms of mental disorders as classified in the DSM.
  • The understanding of basic elements of psychopharmacology applicable to mental disorders in the DSM such as:

Specific indicators on when a referral for medication may be indicated

Facts about drug interactions and side effects

Information on how medications affect adults, children, and adolescents

Red flags that may indicate a referral for re-evaluation

Cultural difference regarding medical treatments.

Strategies on how to discontinue medication safely when needed.

  • Ability to conduct a clinical assessment and mental status exam to obtain information about the presenting problem, the client’s family, cultural and relational history, psychiatric and/or medical problems, predominant affect, crisis and suicide risk level.
  • Ability to evaluate and apply information obtained from the client’s bio, psycho-social history, current level of functioning, and mental status exam to arrive at a speculative diagnosis.
  • Ability to use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) to:

Identify clusters of symptoms.

Speculate on possible diagnostic conclusions

Formulate an evidence-based treatment plan to include research supported therapeutic interventions.

Gain information about research relating to diagnostic categories.

Understand dual diagnoses and the overlap between diagnostic categories.

  • Ability to use clinical terms and language found in the DSM when writing reports or communicating with mental health professionals.
  • Ability to determine if the client’s presenting problem lies within the therapist’s scope of practice.
  • Ability to identify symptoms and make appropriate referrals for mediation evaluations or to outside resources.

(The skill set covered in this course comprises one of the areas of core competence required for the practice of professional counselling and psychotherapy.)

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