Students Play Vital Role in Behavioral Health Services

July 26, 2016   |  Tags: Blog   |  Tags: Behavioral Health Integration , Training
Natalya Seibel

Integrating behavioral health care into a primary care setting can pose many obstacles, including finding behavioral health providers trained to work in primary care. Recently, I was able to speak with multiple clinics around Oregon that have successfully integrated behavioral health in to primary care. Two of the clinics I spoke with addressed the issue by making their clinics a practicum site for doctoral psychology students.

For Vanessa Casillas, PsyD, the Director of Behavioral Health Integration at Providence Medical Group, it became clear that it was time to expand their integration efforts, but trained behavioral health consultants were hard to find. “A year in we started to think about workforce development issues. We had, at that point, hired three licensed psychologists. There was no shortage of applicants, but there was a shortage of applicants that had been trained to competently function in this setting, or had clinical experience working in an integrated setting.”

Proper training is an essential part of preparing a behavioral health consultant to be part of a busy primary care team. Many students coming out of school have never been exposed to brief interventions and other skills, which are a large part of fully integrated behavioral health. “We thought, would there be value in starting a training program?” Dr. Casillas said, and began to look into how that could be accomplished.

Joy Mauldin, PsyD, a Behavioral Health Consultant at Childhood Health Associates of Salem (CHAOS), also wanted to help train students. “I quickly realized I needed some help – it was just me with eighteen providers. I needed to get some students here so I went to George Fox, where I went to school and asked them if we could start a [clinical practicum] site.” She realized she could play an important part in getting students properly trained. “It gives them a great opportunity,” she said. “Some of them have taken some behavioral health classes because they’re in a behavioral health focus, and some of them have never thought about it.”

Dr. Casillas also found hosting students to be rewarding. “In August 2011 we started an internship that was a consortium with George Fox University and we had our first pre-doctoral interns. It was a good experience, the licensed psychologists were billing for services and the trainees were not, so we were able to see the impact that had on referral patterns and things like that.” Dr. Casillas has been able to grow her training program since it began. “I am very proud of our training programs – we have practicum students, an APA-accredited internship, and residency training programs. Our training programs provide opportunities for graduate students to be exposed to and receive training in a rapidly growing part of our field.”

CHAOS also expanded their program. Starting with only two students, CHAOS now hosts four student interns a year – two from George Fox and two from Pacific University. “It is a criteria and expectation that all the students go through a 40-hour boot camp hosted by George Fox for one week that is a behavioral health primary care model. So they learn about the model, and they learn about billing and then they have a month where they shadow [the behavioral health consultants]. We show them how to chart before we send them to the team with the providers. We intentionally have it where the students work our schedules so if there are any concerns that come up – any crises – that they’re not alone.” Dr. Mauldin has been happy with the results in her clinic. “This has expanded capacity.”

If you are interested in student clinical practicum programs and other training, check out what is available through George Fox or Pacific University.

Vanessa Casillas, PsyD is currently the Director of Behavioral Health Integration (BHI) for Providence Medical Group in Oregon. Dr. Casillas leads a team of 35 BHI Providers across the state (licensed psychologists, psychologist residents, pre-doctoral interns and practicum students) who provide integrated behavioral health services in primary care and pediatric clinics. As a person with Type 1 Diabetes, Dr. Casillas has a passion for integrated care both personally and professionally. In her free time, Dr. Casillas enjoys traveling, enjoying the outdoors with her husband, and reading. 



Joy Mauldin, PsyD is a Licensed Psychologist/ Behavioral Health Consultant employed at Childhood Health Associates of Salem where she works as a Behavioral Health Consultant, the Co-Director of the behavioral health program, and the supervisor for doctoral students. Dr. Mauldin also serves as the Behavioral Health Lead for both Marion and Polk Counties. 



Natalya Seibel, MPA is a Program Coordinator for the Q Corp program team. She joined Q Corp in early 2015 as an Administrative Assistant and is proud to have grown in her role. Her role includes support for work on various projects, including Clinician Vitality, Total Cost of Care and the Behavioral Health Integration Resource Library. For the past ten years, Natalya has worked in different roles in health care, cultivating a passion and focus on quality improvement. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, and a Masters’ in Health Administration from Portland State University.