Your quarterly dose of advice, camaraderie, and insights from the field.
President’s Column: March 2016

Dear members,

I am delighted to write that I have accepted a second term as the WMHCA President, and will continue in my role for the 2016-17 year.  We have been working hard to stabilize the organization in the past year, and I am hoping to continue working on my Presidential agenda for the next year.   You may recall that these are to:

1.     Identify a strategic plan for continuing education workshops that meets both state regulation requirements and emerging trends within the field;

2.     Obtain Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) status by the National Board of Certified Counselors for providing continuing education workshops that practitioners can count toward their national certifications.

3.     Re-energize the graduate student committee and begin training students to become the next generation of leaders in both WMHCA and the counseling profession in Washington State.

So what has WMHCA been up to recently? 


A Day in the Life of a Case Manager – Managing Stress

In community mental health, clinicians are often faced with high numbers of clients on their case loads, alongside a lack of viable resources to offer clients. While this particular issue might be a topic for discussion in another venue, what is important for the practitioner to pay attention to is his or her own self-care whenever facing stressful situations.

Recently, research on the effects of stress on our bodies has become prevalent as advances in medical technologies, such as the functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), have allowed us a closer look at the inner-workings of our body systems. Stress, we know, influences overall health in many ways. For the case manager working in community health, paying attention to the effects of stress is important on a personal level, and on a professional level.


Seattle, June, 2016: Training & Research Conference on Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) & Relational Frame Theory (RFT)

The Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) is holding their 14th Annual World Conference in Seattle, June 14-19.  This event is tailored for health professionals, researchers, and students interested in receiving clinical training in modern behavioral therapies (ACT, CFT, DBT, FAP, and other mindfulness-based therapies), in addition to learning about the latest research.

Two-day intensive pre-conference workshops kick-off this highly interactive event, June 14-15. Immediately following is a 3.5 day conference June 16-19 that includes invited lectures, (40+) FREE clinical workshops, panel discussions, symposia, and more! Invited Speakers for the conference include Kristin Neff, Marsha Linehan, Christopher Germer, Lisa Diamond, Tony Biglan, Mavis Tsai, and James Coan, to name a few.

You will have the unique opportunity to network with colleagues and new friends during lunches (included with registration) and evening events. Continuing education credits will be available for the entire event, June 14-19.  Register and learn more:

Check out our helpful flyer with more information here!

Upcoming Workshops
Suicide Assessment, Management, and Treatment
May 27, 2016, City University of Seattle
Instructor: Thom Field
This six-hour presentation meets the new Washington state CE requirements, and provides a practical, hands-on introduction for both new and experienced practitioners. The presentation will cover the assessment, management, and treatment of suicide risk in depth.

Building a Therapeutic Working Alliance with Information Markets: Legal and Ethical Considerations
June 24, Seattle Pacific University
Instructor: Eric Strom
Participants will receive a certificate for 6 hours of continuing education in ethics from WMHCA. This training meets the requirements for and has been approved for Washington State licensed mental health counselors (and associates), licensed marriage and family therapists (and associates), and licensed social workers (and associates).
Using the Myers-Briggs to Capitalize on Your Own and Clients’ Gifts and Strengths
July 22, location TBD 
Instructor: Joe Afanador
Discovering the normal differences in people concerning: Energy Source, Information Gathering, Decision Making, and Life Style.
Private Practice Corner
By S. Renee Balodis-Cox, MA, MS, LMHC

...About getting started in private practice:

The first thing about transitioning from either school or employment to private practice is the balance between reality and keeping an open mind. The reality is that it is difficult to start a private practice and folks that think it is easy face a rough road ahead…. But those that think it is never possible, will not achieve what they are striving for.

No matter what anyone says, word of mouth and networking is your best resource. You WILL succeed by gaining clientele who speaks about you to others. This determines how hard you want to work. If being patient is not your forte, then find doctor’s offices, schools, and other venues that want counseling services to advertise to. Otherwise, the clients will come based on your good work with those clients that you start out with. 

Living Our Way into the Answers

We all feel it, I suppose: the effervescent anxiety that fizzes through our bodies and minds as we sit with clients for the first time. I remember sitting down with Theresa for the first time, and as my first client. With my prized metaphorical toolbox of techniques and interventions learned from class, I felt eager to help the woman sitting across from me, silently worried I wouldn’t be able to. I could sense that she felt alone; her arms were clutching the pillow in front of her, her hair fell down covering part of her warm, pink cheeks. She began by telling me that she’d recently left a severely abusive environment. She’d been physically, emotionally, and psychologically abused, had fled, 

and now felt chronically terrified that eventually, she’d be found. I could feel her terror. I could see her panic. And I had no idea what to do for her. 


ICYMI: In Case You Missed It from AMCHA!
Culled by Whitney Meyerhoeffer, AMHCA Director of State Chapter Relations
2016 Marks the 40th Anniversary of AMHCA
Watch our 40th Anniversary AMHCA Playlist on YouTube from Past President Dr. Stephen Giunta.

AMHCA Advocacy Update
IMD Exclusion Remains a Major Sticking Point

Under long-ago established federal law, the “Institutions for Mental Disease” (IMD) exclusion limits Medicaid and Medicare coverage for services provided by inpatient facilities that specialize in mental health and/or substance abuse treatment. The law excludes Medicaid and Medicare payments for care (physical and behavioral) provided to patients aged 22-64 years in a specialty mental health or substance abuse inpatient facility with more than 16 beds. 

The exclusion greatly complicates the current mental health reform legislation since the IMD provision falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee, not the HELP Committee, where SAMHSA and HHS programs are authorized. The jurisdictional issue is limiting this year’s Senate bill from including more meaningful federal changes. While both the House authorizing

committee and Senate HELP Committee would like to modify the IMD provision, the Senate Finance Committee has little interest in doing so, largely due to the price tag of making changes.Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Angus King (I-ME) are now drafting legislation to modify the IMD exclusion to allow some payments for substance use disorders, but addressing mental health disorders is more expensive and lacks much Senate support.

Related to AMHCA’s agenda, our Medicare provider status amendment also must come from the Finance Committee, making it a poor candidate for inclusion in this year’s Comprehensive Mental Health Act when it reaches the floor. AMHCA is continuing to press our agenda on this legislation. (See our related legislation S. 1830/HR. 2759 and action alert.)

AMHCA 2016 Annual Conference Registration is Now Open!
Preconference Workshops
Accelerated Resolution Therapy – with Kevin Kip, PhD, FAHA and Diego Hernandez, PhD
The Nature, Causes and Management of Suicidal Behavior and Related Disorders – Thomas Joiner, PhD

Keynote Speakers
Thomas Joiner, PhD
Maureen Duffy, PhD

Conference Workshops
Art Therapy and Expressive Arts in Therapy in Trauma-Informed Practice and Integrative Approaches to Health – with Cathy Malchiodi, PhD, LPAT, LPCC, ATR-BC, REAT
Workplace Mobbing and School Bullying – with Maureen Duffy, PhD

AMHCA Announces New Partnership with Therapy Partners
Therapy Partner is practice management software and the fastest growing technology in the mental health industry. The program features scheduling, automated billing, progress notes, diagnosis and treatment plans, revenue tracking, reporting and so much more. AMHCA members receive 60 day free trials.