An Award-Winning Commitment to Young Adults

The Institute of Living’s long-standing reputation as a national leader and innovator in the field of behavioral health services was further enhanced in 2015 when the IOL’s pioneering Young Adult Services (YAS) Program was named recipient of the first-ever National Program of the Year Award by the Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Health (AABH).

The prestigious award was bestowed on the IOL program at the AABH’s 47th annual conference in San Diego in July. AABH is the national trade association for Intensive Outpatient Programs and Partial Hospitalization Programs that are vital components of the behavioral health continuum. The IOL program is the first in the country to receive the newly created award, which will now be awarded annually.

  • “We could not be more pleased or honored to be recognized with this award.”

    - Lawrence Haber, PhD, Director of Ambulatory, Young Adult and Health Psychology Services at IOL

The IOL Young Adult Services Program was one of five finalists to be considered for the award. In the end, AABH experts selected YAS for the award because of its unique ability to customize treatment plans for young adults ranging in age from 17-26 – a critical time when many young patients experience their first episodes of severe mental illness. The innovative YAS Program – one of the first of its kind in the country when it was created in 2004 – provides comprehensive behavioral health services for a broad cross-section of young adults, including college students, dual diagnosis patients, young adults exhibiting symptoms of early psychosis and a pioneering program for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning) youth.

“We could not be more pleased or honored to be recognized with this award,” said Lawrence Haber, PhD, Director of Ambulatory, Young Adult and Health Psychology Services at IOL, who
accepted the award at the July ceremony along with David Vaughan, LCSW, who was credited
with originally creating the vision for the YAS Program.

An award-winning commitment to young adults

The goals behind the YAS program are to:

Help young adults manage the transition back to their daily lives, which have been interrupted by symptoms of behavioral health issues.

Help young adults become more stable in their recovery while transitioning out of an inpatient or residential level of treatment into an outpatient setting.

Help young adults gain additional support from their families and support structures through therapy, and by helping everyone involved to offer greater support for the patient’s recovery.

Help young adults learn adaptive skills in order to better understand and manage their illness.

Help young adults gain necessary life skills to re-engage in productive activities such as school, work or other life goals.

Help reduce the need for inpatient hospitalization.

The philosophy behind the program is to tailor each patient’s treatment plan to his or her individual needs as much as possible to support full recovery from an early episode of severe mental illness.

Members of the Young Adult Services staff
Back:  Kevin O’Shea Psy.D; Michael Dewberry MD
Second Row:  David Vaughan LCSW; Marilyn Finkelstein LCSW; Carrie Swiatek LCSW; Justine Chatterton PhD; Mallory Fergione LCSW; Stephanie Trabka; Laura Saunders Psy.D ABPP; Eliza Alve-Hedegaard APRN
Sitting: Gladys Lopez MSW; David Bendor Psy.D; Justine Montreuil; Kimesha Morris LCSW

Group and individual therapy are delivered in a style that is developmentally based and
integrates techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy, coping skills training, motivational enhancement, emotion-focused expression and art therapy, psychodynamic therapy, family systems therapy, relapse prevention and interpersonal therapy.

Laura Saunders, Psy.D. ABPP, right, a Board-certified clinical psychologist and clinical coordinator of the The Right Track/LGBTQ Specialty Track program at the IOL, with client Natalie Garcia

The program recognizes the profound implications that behavioral health issues during young adulthood can have on the rest of a patient’s life, which is why a multidisciplinary, intensive, evidence-based approach is used to ensure that all of the patient’s individual needs are met.

Programs within YAS include:

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for Dual Diagnosis Patients. This is a short-term, group-focused therapy program addressing both mental health and substance abuse treatment needs. The program consists of three 50-minute groups per day, with individual and family treatment as needed. The IOP team includes a clinician who coordinates treatment and a psychiatrist who provides medication management. The program lasts an average of six weeks, and the patient works closely with clinicians to develop goals and a plan for discharge after care.

Intensive Outpatient Program and Partial Hospitalization (PHP) Program. This is a short-term outpatient group therapy program in which patients attend sessions of various lengths three or four times a week. Treatment includes group-based programs as well as individual and family therapy as needed. The program is for patients experiencing depression, anxiety, psychosis or other mental health symptoms.

Intensive Outpatient Program for young adults returning to the Hartford area from college who have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety. This program’s goal is to give students the tools they need to manage the college experience and increase their opportunities for success. It includes time in the Young Adult Services Outpatient Program with an extra day focused on college-specicfic issues such as planning and organizational skills, daily living skills, socialization, cognitive and behavioral techniques and stress management.

Potential Outpatient Program (POP) for outpatient services at a lower intensity than IOP/PHP programs. This service includes an Early Psychosis Program for patients experiencing early stages of psychotic illness, and involves individual and group therapy, medication management, family education and support services and cognitive remediation. The POP also includes a Young Adult Clinic offering individual psychotherapy and outpatient groups tailored to each patient’s needs. Groups include therapeutic support for clients with co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions; therapeutic support groups for clients who have been discharged from IOP/PHP and who are now in outpatient
therapy; therapy groups for young people experiencing early stages of psychotic illness; and a dual diagnosis relapse prevention service.

An Outreach Program designed to help bridge the transition from traditional office-based treatment to life in the community. This innovative program helps with the integral process of recovery that allows clients and case managers to identify goals to reintegrate into the community. The program’s expanded clinical outreach team includes a clinician, a case manager, peer counselors and a vocational specialist to greater serve the developmental needs of each patient.

The Right Track/LGBTQ Specialty Track for young adults coping with issues related to sexual identity and acceptance. This pioneering program serves young adults ages 16-24 who are experiencing emotional distress or trauma and who need a skills-based therapeutic program to grow confident in their identity. Goals of the program include validating aspects of emerging identity, building on role models and “family of choice” support systems to reduce feelings of isolation while developing skills such as identifying, modulating and dealing with stress or misconceptions. There is an emphasis on expressive therapies, mindfulness/movement and family support. There is also an adjunct support group that meets twice a month and is open to the community.

The IOL’s YAS Program is the only one of its kind in Connecticut, and is widely regarded as one of the first in the country to recognize the need for intensive intervention and therapeutic programs for young adults.