Meet Jimmy Mooney, Co-Founder and Director: In His Words

Sharing his experience, strength, and hope in the evolution of TPN.Health

In Jimmy’s words:

Why TPN, and how did we get to this point?

The concept of Trusted Provider Network began with a conversation about a common dilemma that we all face at some point: Where is the right place to refer a client? That simple question has consumed my life the last three and a half years. To understand why I’m so passionate about finding an answer, you have to understand my history in the field. You see, my experience in the addiction treatment field started when I was very young, before this field even existed.

For me it started in 1959 when I was nine years old. That was when both my mom and dad got sober. My dad was a well-respected physician in our small hometown of Statesboro, GA. My mom was trained as a nurse. The other side of their story is that they were both alcoholics and narcotic addicts. That was the family in which my brothers and I grew up.

In July of 1959, my world changed when my dad stood before the judge and was sentenced to two years hard labor in the state penitentiary for writing prescriptions to himself. The judge probated his sentence contingent on him going to Lexington, KY to the Federal Narcotics Prison (better known as the Narcotics Farm). This was where he found his recovery. When my dad returned home, my mom began attending 12-Step meetings, and that’s where she found her recovery. We became a family in recovery.

Jimmy talking with Trevor and Jeffrey Dupuis

There was no stigma with my dad or mom. They were proud to let people know that they were sober. They would speak publicly about their addiction and recovery at any opportunity. Because of this, my dad’s reputation as a sober physician grew. More and more people began to reach out to him for help.

Keep in mind that this was 1960. Back then, treatment for alcoholism was not universally available. At that time there were only a handful of treatment programs around the country, Chit Chat Farms (now Caron Foundation), Hazelden, High Watch Farm, and a few others. In most instances, if you were an alcoholic, you ended up in the state mental institution. In Georgia that was Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. Misdiagnosis of alcoholics as having a psychiatric disorder was common.

In the early 1960s, my dad began detoxing people out of his medical office. They would stay in the hotel a block away and spend the day in the AA room next door. He quickly realized that there needed to be more structure. That’s when he began to bring patients into our home.

In 1965, our home became a treatment center. I was fifteen at this time and our life as a family changed. All of a sudden, these strangers became family members. They would stay with us for four to six weeks, sometimes more. Sometimes I would come home from school and find that they had given my room to someone.

They moved the furniture out of the dining room, put three in beds, and turned it into the detox unit. Everyone called it the Chandelier Room because when they woke up, the first thing they saw was the chandelier in the center of the room. As my dad went through the process of figuring out the detox protocol, it was not unusual for people to experience DTs.

My memories include watching people having convulsions on the floor and experiencing hallucinations. Interesting times to say the least. But the thing that I remember the most was the love. Our home was a place where my parents would “love you until you could love yourself.” Even at that early age, I experienced the fellowship of recovery. It had a lasting impact on me.

It got to the point in the late 1960s that we had over twenty-five patients living in our home with my family. It was time for an actual treatment center. In 1971 they opened the doors of Willingway Hospital, the first free-standing addiction specialty hospital in the Southeast.

My dad passed away in 1983 and my mom in 2004. They both remained sober until their deaths.

I had my own struggle with addiction. Fortunately, I found my recovery and have maintained continuous sobriety for the last thirty-four years. I know first-hand the miracle of recovery when the right help is available.

My career in the treatment field began in 1980, when I went to work at Willingway. Over the years I worked my way up the ladder, and for over twenty years I served as CEO and had the opportunity to lead an amazing organization.

The main thing that my tenure at Willingway and my experience growing up instilled in me was an understanding and appreciation for the effectiveness of good, ethical treatment. TREATMENT WORKS, especially when you match the client to the right program.

Time and time again, we hear the horror stories of the bad players taking advantage of people in crisis: the body brokers, unethical billing, website hijacking, misrepresentation of services, just to name a few. There is the chronic problem of where to send someone — which program is the right clinical fit, and who can you trust? Even professionals in the mental health field many times are at a loss.

Pensive Jimmy with other TPN consultants

The field needed a solution.

In January of 2016, my partner Christopher O’Shea and I had a telephone conversation. We were discussing the difficulty that professionals have in placing clients in clinically appropriate programs. On that phone call, we said, “let’s put together a tool to help people identify providers that are a good clinical fit.” This was the conversation that created the idea of Trusted Provider Network.

We agreed to meet midway between Jekyll Island, GA, where I lived, and Baton Rouge, LA, where Christopher lived. In March of 2016, we met in Montgomery, AL. My education is Business Management with an emphasis in Information Systems. I understood that the basis for TPN would be a searchable database, so I created a rudimentary database. When I showed this to Christopher, we both knew that this was the platform on which to build TPN. When we left Montgomery, we left with a concept, a name (Trusted Provider Network or TPN), a tag line (“Connections You Can Trust”), and a new vision.

The evolution of Trusted Provider Network continued. We recognized that we needed a vetting process and reached out to amazing professionals to help create one. We decided that, in addition to addiction treatment, we would add mental health and psychiatric programs and interventionists to the network. We understood the critical piece that clinicians play in the continuum of care and made them clinically searchable by “reverse engineering” our subscriber database. We implemented auto-notifications when someone recommended a TPN provider. We created an amazing tool.

As we began to introduce TPN to colleagues in the field, the response was consistently positive. Everyone we spoke to confirmed that there needed to be a tool to help connect clients to the right provider. We began to build TPN with some of the most well respected programs and interventionists in the field.

TPN is now a New Orleans-based company. We have an amazing new partner, Trevor Colhoun, who has the same passion that Christopher and I have. We have built a great team. TPN has evolved into a state-of-the-art platform that puts the focus on building a true clinician community and fostering connections with appropriate providers.

As we launch the new platform, I sit here amazed at how far we have come since that first phone call in January of 2016.

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Remembering Katrina: What It Meant for Clinicians and the Community

A conversation with Parker Sternbergh, LCSW, on the work of connection and relationships in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

What does love look like for you? Are your relationships secure? These are some of the things that came up in conversation with Parker Sternbergh, LCSW, Director of the Porter-Cason Institute for the Family at Tulane, when we talked about the post-Katrina landscape of clinicians and community of people in New Orleans.

It’s August 29, 2019, the anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. People are remembering. Specifically, bodily tissues are remembering. Drawing on the work of Bessel van der Kolk in his The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body In the Healing of Trauma, we understand today that “trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body” (Bessel van der Kolk, 2014).

Unquestionably, the event of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath had significant effects on the individuals, families, and collective orientation of an entire city. Here we will peer into these effects through the lens of conversation with Parker Sternbergh as she illuminates the theme of connection and relationship within the clinical community and community of clients after Hurricane Katrina. We will also consider connection as it relates to solutions in collective trauma and interpersonal trauma.

people walking in water in Hurricane Katrina

According to Sternbergh, Hurricane Katrina marked a time in the city of New Orleans in which people learned, “nobody came for us but us.” This learning makes sense as the community depended upon its members for direct support and meeting of basic needs at a time when basic needs were difficult to negotiate. What does this look like? Neighbors being interdependent upon one another for shelter, food, water, and safety.

Fast forward to 2019, and people are practicing what they’ve learned. For instance, several days before Hurricane Barry’s landfall on July 13, 2019, there was substantial flooding in parts of the city. Sternbergh shares her experience of a sense of communal interdependence just in her neighborhood on Camp Street where everyone was out on their porches during and after the rain. At this time, she shared food with a woman she’d never met before, and they’ve made plans to share food again soon. According to Sternbergh, “We know that connection is how we survived,” so we keep cultivating that. “That is the positive cycle.”

So in the midst of collective alarm and disillusionment, the community navigates solution through connection in the way of neighborly interdependence. What Sternbergh was interested in was how to address the alarm and disillusionment she met in the individuals and families that were seeking help.

Hurricane Katrina-people waving flags with "help" written

Sternbergh recalls that upon the hit of Hurricane Katrina and post-Katrina, she and other clinicians in the New Orleans area saw an onslaught of families in crisis, namely in divorce and addiction. What Sternbergh saw specifically was an overwhelming need for solutions in practice with the affected families. Years before, Sternbergh had received training with Dr. Sue Johnson at the Ackerman Institute in New York in Emotionally Focused Couples and Family Therapy (EFT), a modality developed under funded peer-reviewed research and centered around addressing how people put together their emotional experience in the context of relationship.

In collaboration with Sue Johnson and colleagues, Sternbergh brought the much needed modality to New Orleans. George Fuller, a firefighter turned therapist, worked closely with Johnson and Sternbergh to address the need for training clinicians in EFT. He informed the approach to Hurricane Katrina with his experience as a firefighter during 9/11. Although these were two different populations affected by two different disasters, what Fuller saw in the affected families and individuals was the same. The common thread? A widespread pattern of emotional dysregulation in relationships and the need for solutions for families and individuals.

Hurricane Katrina image of people on the interstate by I-10 Slidell E

Introducing EFT to the clinical community in New Orleans meant dropping the modality into the lap of the Porter-Cason Institute for the Family at the Tulane School of Social Work. Porter-Cason provided the funding to get clinicians promptly certified in EFT. Following the initial set of trainings, there developed a core group of people, Sternbergh included, who were committed to growing its practice.

From that core group of EFT practitioners, study groups specific to EFT have sprung up in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Alexandria. Sternbergh notes that the goal is always to pull in more clinicians to train in EFT. She says of the growth of EFT among clinicians, “It is a community, like TPN is a community — only pre-TPN with no TPN.”

Building on the implementation of EFT post-Katrina, Parker’s work at Porter-Cason continues to serve the community of clients and clinicians in form of community projects, research, and training of master-level students to become therapists that are focused on addiction and the family.

The approach of the institute in treating addiction is that it is a symptom of other things going on in a person’s ecosystem in the form of interacting biopsychosocial processes, such as epigenetics or attachment injury. One of the Porter Cason’s community projects at Covenant House illustrates this paradigm around addiction. The project involves looking at the kids’ whole ecosystems while teaching them about the mind-body connection and skills that serve this connection, such as meditation, sleep, and other practices involved Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Also through Sternbergh’s work at Porter-Cason, research takes place with a population of foster children in the form of focus groups. Some of the questions that focus groups ask the kids is, “If you are transitioning out of foster care, how would you design the system?” and “What is the most important thing for your success?” What they are finding from the data is that the most important thing, most often, for the kids in their eyes is a consistent caring adult.

Parker notes that the results of discussion in the focus groups “lines up with what we already know about our neurobiology — that we are hardwired for connection.” The goal of this work with the foster kids is to amass enough voices to find a pattern. The foster-care system is not set up to meet that neurobiological need in every kid, so the work at Porter-Cason is to document this need in a way that is patterned and traceable.

“Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being” -Bessel van der Kolk, 2014.

Today it is true that people can become awash in responses of the sympathetic nervous system. When we are caught in fight-or-flight mode, our attention is “focused on fighting off unseen enemies, which leaves no room for nurture, care, and love. It means the mind is defending itself tirelessly, while closest bonds are threatened, along with our ability to imagine plan, play, learn, and pay attention to other’s needs” (Bessel van der Kolk, 2014).

It is also true that the doable work is to create the space so that people, ourselves included, can cultivate attentive practices in relationships. Drawing from the hope in how far we have come already, we can remember, especially today, to take care of those positive connections with self and others.

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References:

Bessel van der Kolk (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Penguin Group: New York, New York.

Clinicians Converse at Carmo

What the TPN.Health Community is Bringing to the Table

  • CEUs

  • Metal straws

  • Institutional racism

  • Consultation groups

  • Cylinder-shaped ceviche

These were bouncing around in clinicians’ conversations (and stomachs) last night at TPN’s Ambassador Dinner at Carmo. Behavioral health clinicians local to New Orleans and Baton Rouge were able to taste some of the fringe benefits that TPN is offering, that is, access to a clinically focused community and conversations that spring from that access. And let’s not forget the food — they were able to taste the food, too.

TPN.Health Ambassadors were able to ask questions, give feedback, and connect with each other about their work and the new TPN community. Felicia Kleinpeter, Director of Clinicians, shared excitement with Shaina Spector, PLPC, when she spoke to how TPN can benefit her clinical specificity in private practice. She expressed anticipation to be searchable for the clients and issues she loves to treat and the areas in her practice she wants to grow.

SEARCHABILITY

TPN’s feature of searchability is not just for those in private practice. For instance, last night we conversed with Corine Brown, LCSW, and Brianna O’Connor, LMSW, both of whom are part of the team at Covenant House. In our conversation, we explained the value of TPN to organizations like Covenant House. The value we bring to nonprofit organizations through searchable clinician profiles is in attracting the ideal clients for their programs. In other words, clinicians within certain organizations may not be referring out, but it is important for clinicians on the outside to see who is in the clinical framework of non-profit organizations like Covenant House.

Features in the Works

Digital Meeting Space

Trevor Colhoun, TPN Executive Chairman, confirms that a digital meeting space is in the works for the platform. Clinicians will have the capability to create groups with those who share similar interests and expertise. This could take the form of opportunities to create consultation groups. Janell Kalifey, LCSW, spoke to this when she shared how consultation groups with like-minded clinicians help her to make sense of some of the challenges in private practice.

Accepting Clients Light

Last night, clinicians discussed the difficulty of making referrals when there is no efficient way to confirm who is and is not accepting clients. For instance, Mikal Matton, LPC, shared that it does not serve her work and goals to accept more clients at this juncture in her practice. In sharing this, she nodded to the common experience of clinicians being in client-overload or simply focusing energy toward other work. To solve this, Trevor confirms that a clickable “accepting clients light” feature will soon be available in the profile-making process. This feature will make others in the network aware of where you stand with client-acceptance.

These and other shared experiences are essential to the life of the TPN community. Why are they essential? Because clinicians share them.

“We want to make clinicians the power in this ecosystem.”-Christopher O’Shea, Co-founder of TPN

No matter where you are in your clinical career, you can contribute to the community of licensed clinicians with shared experience as a licensed clinician. No terminal uniqueness here! Our goal is to create an infrastructure where we are allowing licensed professionals to do their work. We’re giving the tools to you the clinicians to create that trusted network.

TPN is here to facilitate the conversations you as clinicians want to have and opportunities for collaborative problem-solving in the clinical community. For instance, Mikal Matton, LPC, shared with us her desire for CEUs in racial and equity training. Corine Brown, LCSW, spoke to the need to have conversations about institutional racism among those in the helping profession.

High Quality, Low-Cost CEUs

It is TPN’s goal to bring the spirit of benefit and incentive for the clinician back to CEUs. This means moving away from the punitive air of expensive, repetitive units and moving toward the conversations in which you, the clinicians, actually want to take part for an affordable rate.

We have already sponsored a CEU in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and have several CEU sponsorships scheduled in the near future. These include a Louisiana Counseling Association Conference in late September, a Tanya Stuart, LCSW, LAC/Genesis Behavioral Health workshop in October, and one TBA unit in January of 2020. Likewise, we can confirm a soon-to-be available calendar showing local CEU events — the ones you want to see — on TPN.Health.

Christopher O’Shea, TPN’s Co-founder, speaks to the orientation of the work of TPN, “We want to make clinicians the power in this ecosystem.” This is the direction today and for the future of TPN.Health. Also in the spirit of a hopeful future, Trevor comments,“We’re just starting. We have huge goals of looking at the entire ecosystem…This is a process. We want you to be a part of this mission — to change the behavioral health process making your lives more efficient.”

So, what now? We’ve built the platform. We are beginning to facilitate ongoing clinically relevant conversations and opportunities. All we need now is the spectrum of licensed clinicians (you) to populate the space and breathe life into it.

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TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Parker Sternbergh, LCSW

Her Integrated Approach to Life and Work

“You see my gardening hands…” said Parker Sternbergh as we stood in line at St. James Cheese Company. I did see them. There was some dirt underneath her fingernails.

Parker, once a business woman in health administration, serves today as the Director of The Porter Cason Institute for the Family at Tulane School of Social Work and TPN.Health Advisory Board Member, cheerleader, supporter and believer. She is a teacher, clinician, researcher, gardener, and forever surfer.

Parker’s life shifted upon the loss of a child years ago. She describes the loss as, “a grenade in my life.” What she faced was unsupported relationships and a sense of not being able to see or feel anything. What did this mean for her life? For Parker, it meant she had to “choose life or fall apart.” There simply was nothing else to do than to address this choice. This manifested and still today manifests in Parker’s professional life and in the work of daily living.

Her work in healthcare administration before the loss of her son no longer seemed relevant to her life — to what she needed — upon the fallout of that tragedy. So, she pursued work, professionally and personally, that could address the need to feel again and develop a sustainable way to live.

She went back to school at Tulane to pursue a degree in social work and to be able put together for people an experience different from the disillusionment she encountered in living with the grief that accompanies losing a child.

While in school, she took the opportunity to go to India for spiritual immersion, as the Tulane School of Social work had and still has a working relationship with the Dali Lama. This affords students the opportunity to do projects with Indian refugees. While in India, she lived and worked alongside the lamas and was immersed in their spiritual practice of Buddhism along with the Hindu culture of India and Episcopalianism (left over from English colonialism). She notes that leaving the western environment for the first time and getting away from the framework of life in New Orleans was a necessary piece in her healing and the cultivation of a new perspective.

Today Parker’s faith, an Episcopalian/ Buddhist approach, and the insight she gained through her time in India informs her life and work practices. She says of faith in her life, “Faith is the most luxurious cashmere blanket. I tell my children, ‘To have a faith or believe in something bigger than yourself and to be able to relax into that bigger picture is about as luxurious a position you can have in life.’ ”

She also remembers and incorporates into her practice the lessons of the lamas on the nature of human suffering and attachment. This invigorates the perspective she is actively building in clinical life, one where people can actually become more at peace with themselves:

“I am very well trained clinically, but I believe that it’s more than changing behavior that we’re looking for. We want to bring peace to people — for a person to fit in their relationships and in their community without feeling badly, without shame and to feel whole. This is what I bring from those practices.” 

Also essential to how Parker moved and is moving forward was her work at the Ackerman Institute for the Family with Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Couples and Family Therapy (EFT). It was there that Parker found another missing piece to healing that she could not find in New Orleans. The focus in EFT is looking at attachment: positive versus negative, attachment injury, and attachment needs — how people mask these needs as a result of chemical processes in the amygdala and how people can begin to actually address the needs through taking certain steps in present relationships, with self and others.

After Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill, Parker and colleagues saw a drastic need to address the overflow of issues, such as divorce and addiction, that they saw in clinical encounters with families and individuals. So Parker, with important figures like Sue Johnson, brought EFT to New Orleans for the first time, training clinicians in the practice, which years of peer-reviewed research supports. Still today, the community of EFT is alive and growing in New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Parker’s creation of new life for herself and the community she serves has largely involved bringing in the new in the form of cutting edge modalities or spiritual practices from different faith traditions. There is, however, a certain constant that integral to Parker’s story — the water. Parker grew up in a coastal town in California and has been a water-creature all her life. She began to surf at the age of ten and still does. In her life today, she’ll fly Southwest for a sunset surf in Cali and can be back the following day. “There’s a part of me that feels like a mermaid. If I’m out of the saltwater for too long, there’s a problem,” says Parker.

Woven into a particular experience of surfing for Parker was the “choosing life or falling apart” she met after the loss of her son. She describes an experience post-loss in which she paddled out with a group of prolific surfer friends in California. She kept getting creamed. She also kept paddling — getting wiped out in cold water and then laughing. She theoretically knew how to duck-dive and kept on with this thought. The “choosing life” actually manifested in the activity of surfing — she chose to paddle out each time and be in the community of her fellows alongside the condition of wiping out. She says of the experience, “It was my own version of EMDR before I was trained it.”

Also driving the experiences that transformed Parker’s loss was the realization that, “I was a human reaction and I knew it.” In “choosing life,” she was able to feel what it meant to become a human being — someone who really has the sense of being in their own skin, present to all the nuances that happen there — rather than a body caught up in scanning for the next alarm.

In Parker’s words, the real work for herself and other people is “becoming more of a human being and less of a human reaction.” This is central to Parker’s integrated approach to work and life — an approach that combines efficacious research in practice, spirituality, and personal experiences.

TPN is immensely grateful to have attracted a person like Parker Sternbergh who is forever seeking to support her fellow human.

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Meet Felicia Kleinpeter, Director of Clinicians: In Her Words

About her passion for real solutions in behavioral health

Why am I a part of TPN.Health? Simply, I am a person in long-term recovery who has a purpose and love for helping and connecting people.

At TPN.Health, I have an opportunity to be a part of something that gives clinicians, the center of all patients’ healing, the chance to build community, to find each other and share interests and passions. It is amazing to help create this place for professional and personal discovery and connection.

I am amazed to be a part of TPN.Health because we are creating REAL SOLUTION.

My partner Christopher O’Shea and other Trusted Provider Network co-founder Jimmy Mooney can tell you — I (and many others) have been wanting for so long a place to go — a platform — that enables quick and accurate clinical searches resulting in just the right referrals for people needing behavioral health services.

In my 10 years in the addiction and mental health treatment field, I have had the good fortune to travel nationally, meeting clinicians and visiting treatment programs. Because of my experience (and letting everyone I meet know that they can call me or share my number for assistance with referrals), I have gotten thousands of inquiries from families, community members and other professionals looking for clinical referrals for patients, friends, loved ones. In addition, working in treatment centers, clients sometimes need additional clinical services, all need continuing care, and, if they are not appropriate for my center, I must find alternative resources and referrals. I look for local and national clinicians and treatment providers on a daily basis. Sometimes, I have the answer in my head and can say “here’s the perfect therapist or psychiatrist for this patient” or “this treatment center is just the right fit and take that insurance.” But often, it’s not that easy. The challenges that I face include, for example, what if I don’t know an addiction psychiatrist in Houston, Texas or a program in Idaho that focuses on trauma and eating disorder for an adolescent female? How do I find these resources when I don’t know everyone in my community or other areas? What I have done for the last 10 years is reach out to my professional, trusted colleagues nationally and in those specific communities for guidance. (The internet, though sometimes helpful, is not totally accurate or the information trustworthy.) There are times that I have upwards of 5 behavioral health professionals I know working on placing one patient with a clinician or program.

This process requires a ton of time and communication, sometimes frustrating and not producing the right fit, and regularly taking me away from personal and professional events and urgent business matters. And I think “WHAT IF I WERE A CLINICAN WHO WANTS TO SPEND TIME TREATING PATIENTS AND NOT GET BOGGED DOWN SEARCHING FOR REFERRALS?” And “What if I were a clinician who wants to grow my network and practice, but don’t know the best way to be found and connect to community?”

We at TPN.Health have the solution! We offer a platform with extensive clinical search criteria that precisely matches patients’ issues and diagnoses with clinicians’ and programs’ scopes of practice, therapeutic modalities, location, licensures, certifications and so much more. We provide the right clinical fit within our network of verified and vetted clinicians and treatment providers. CLINICIANS CAN QUICKLY FIND REFERRALS AND CAN BE FOUND BY OTHERS!

I am so excited to be a part of the solution!

Meet Trevor Colhoun, Executive Chairman: In His Words

Executive Chairman, Trevor Colhoun shares how story has led him to solve problems in behavioral health and the vision for TPN.Health

Why I am involved with TPN.Health?

My journey with Trusted Provider Network, now TPN.Health, began around a year and a half ago. I have been engaged with the disordered behavior ecosystem my entire life because of my own personal tragic and traumatic episodes, and with loved ones in my family or circle of friends. It was not until a year and a half ago that I started studying the structure of behavioral health and the systemic issues that plague its inability to generate sustainable and systematic success. I am not a behavioral health professional; I am an investment professional. I analyze companies and industries for the premise of investment to place structured capital into a business, to generate a return on equity. Personally, in my career, I have always focused on broken systems and damaged companies; I like the underdog. This style fits me well as I came from a broken family riddled with abuse and addiction. I am dyslexic and struggled in elementary school. My experiences and childhood environment, coupled with my learning disability, created a deficient value and self-worth for my capabilities and self-esteem. Internalizing this, I began telling myself a story of low self-worth, and the story was reinforced with how I thought the world saw me and what I deserved. This pattern took years of therapy for me to break and work to build personal value and self-worth. However, I see this process much as I invest, manage, and build companies. I find worth in areas that are distracted and complicated by devaluing anchors whether it is a fledgling hotel that needs new management and a simple facelift, or a cash-burning data storage company that needs to acquire growth, my professional career bets on the underdog and unlocking its value.

Through this lens is my story and motivation of what we are building with TPN.Health

Like many, I began this journey with passion. Through a traumatic experience with a loved one, I reluctantly researched the chemical dependency treatment facility field. I was shocked by the lack of clinical stewardship for mental health compared to that of the area of physical health. For example, if I were to break my leg, I would go to the emergency room and immediately be treated. Eventually, I would see an orthopedic surgeon or doctor and be placed into a physical therapy program until I recovered. The process is clear, concise, and ubiquitous.

Conversely, the mind is a mystical creature, and we do not have a clinical recovery map like those clinicians in the “hard physical sciences.” But do we? It seemed to me that through available internet information and even behavioral specialists we were speaking with, there was a possibility. Sometimes treatment works, and sometimes it does not. Through this process of searching for the clinical recovery roadmap, I was introduced to some fascinating people and philanthropic organizations. These organizations had incredible abilities to illuminate the issues in the behavioral health space. First, I was relieved to learn that there is a clinical path to mental health and addiction recovery and that behavioral health has a clinical process. As a patient, if you work with the correct behavioral health clinician or team, you can build a recovery plan just like a person with a broken leg.

The bad news is, as a general population, we have veered away from our approach to this over the last 25 years. With access to the internet and money flowing from insurance companies, we have created a mixture that derails the clinical behavioral recovery path. I was told by a director at a national mental health organization that just the addiction space alone spends seven billion dollars a year for search engine optimization. Among the top twenty most expensive categories of searches, the words RECOVERY, REHAB, and TREATMENT all have a place independently. Conversely, the categories that were not on that list included: Medical Doctor, Cancer, Diabetes, and Physical Pain. The medical health field takes a clear path, with a protocol of medical screening tests and gateway clinicians like general internist that guide a patient through a clinical path. Therefore, a patient would not need to “Google” who they should see; they move through a well-established clinical path. Lastly, those key search words in behavioral health on Google are so expensive because they are so popular, and they are so popular because the behavioral health field has not developed a systematic clinical path.

This discovery is when my story with TPN.Health took a right turn. Yes, those philanthropic organization which I worked with had command of the issue, but they did not have a solution. Behavioral health is also a capitalistic problem. One cannot tell behavioral health professionals and owners of treatment centers that the industry is broken and walk away; these professionals need an alternative solution. In the end, they run businesses and need to keep the lights on, and wholeheartedly want to treat people with the best care and resources they have.

My right turn

Within my research, I came across the Trusted Provider Network. I discovered I knew one of its founders, and better yet, he was in my backyard of New Orleans. The network was roughly two years old, and the founders (Christopher O’Shea and Jimmy Mooney) had identified some of the same issues as stated above but seemed focused only on the treatment providers. The concept was simple: be the first third party group to verify the treatment center by “programming.” The vetting process would be objective and subjective. The TPN team would first approve personnel and clinical programs, and then it would discover what each program did best and where they were lacking. This is an innovative process and had potential. Pioneering this would allow behavioral health professionals to understand each other’s strengths and areas of focus, therefore outlining a completely transparent clinical path to recovery.

Christopher and I met for coffee in September 2018, and fireworks of passion ensued in our discussion. He very much understood the issues that my research uncovered. He knew that his solution played a part in improving the behavioral health ecosystem, but more needed to be done to create a whole scale solution to a clinical recovery path. We both saw the value of Trusted Provider Network and knew, with some refocusing and platform reengineering, we could make a significant shift in the behavioral health space. Christopher pointed out that to make this work, TPN needed clinicians in the system. Clinicians are the lifeblood of the entire behavioral health ecosystem, and without them on the platform, there are no patients to refer to treatment professionals. The idea was simple, but just not built in the most effective way. As behavioral health professionals, Chris and Jimmy identified the problem was with the care seekers and not the caregivers. People seeking behavioral health services were circumventing the professional clinician by searching for behavioral health treatment centers independently and (not surprisingly) getting poor outcomes. As a solution, Jimmy and Chris started vetting and verifying the treatment centers. Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem of leaving out the critical component of the role of the clinician. Besides, Jimmy and Chris could not drive traffic to the platform because the SEO cost was too competitive. We realized for this to work, and we needed clinicians to be the center of the clinical universe. The questions became: What do clinicians need? What do they want? What do they not have? What can we do to solve their problems and make the whole referral process more accessible and more effective?

Building value

At this point, I jumped in headfirst. We had a company that had value but was searching for direction and leadership. We had two founders that have given their life to the field of behavioral health and had a wealth of knowledge, contacts, and resources. The three of us started from scratch to rebuild the platform, this time for the clinicians, giving them the tools to take control of the behavioral health system. We spent our first four months doing multiple sessions with clinicians. By showing them our ideas, collecting feedback, and taking in their views, we focused on the significant issues that clinicians face and how we could help. The process was fantastic! We began building a community with other clinicians, continued building our knowledge base, and created a method to make confident referrals. The solution became more evident and began to unfold as we worked with the team and the clinicians we brought on board. We have created a platform exclusively for professionals in the behavioral health space so they can have the comfort to endorse each other, connect, find research, and build a practice. Creating these tools allows them to do what they do best, which is to treat patients and clients. From our perspective, it has become clear that the intentional building of robust communities allows the clinician to return to their roots and come onboard as verified and vetted treatment providers, authentically. This way, if our clinicians need further treatment for patients, they have that roadmap.

A future goal of ours is to open the TPN.Health platform to corporate wellness programs. This allows us to have a portion of the “general public” test and interact with the platform. This platform would build a solution to the problem of a clinical path to mental health and addiction recovery, the same issue that physical health medicine solved years ago. With the TPN.Health platform, if one has a behavioral health issue, they search on the platform for a clinical evaluation. When a professional behavioral health clinician diagnoses the difficulty, they would clinically explore the platform for a suitable referral. If that individual needs specific treatment, they then can search for a treatment center that clinically matches their diagnosis. A clinically based recovery platform is the goal. We want to give the power back to the professional clinician and support them with the tools to get real results.

Although I am not a behavioral health professional, I am a human being that is extremely passionate about the behavioral health space. I am a human being who has been a patient in this field and recognized, with the help of my partners, real change can occur if the correct tools and systems are put in place. A clinical path platform is what TPN.Health is delivering. I am thrilled to be a part of the change I want to see in the world.

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