National Nutrition Month: A Brief Look at Food’s Role in Behavioral Health

For the entire month of March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is inviting the nation to be mindful of nutrition. Their goal during National Nutrition Month is to emphasize the importance of developing good dietary and physical activity habits as well as making educated choices around food.

At one time, it was thought that behavioral and physical health were unrelated, but today we know differently. The fact is that the two are interdependent, and their relationship must be considered to evaluate the health of a person holistically. One angle of looking at the relationship between physical health, specifically nutrition, and behavioral health is to consider how the chemical composition of food affects brain function, as per the field of nutritional psychiatry. For instance, foods that are of quality nutrition help the brain function best by keeping away inflammation and stress from the oxidative waste that is left after the body uses oxygen. More recent findings suggest specifically diets of low quality nutrition can lead to detrimental effects on the mental health of both adults and children (Sarris, et al., 2015).

One can see the interdependent relationship of physical and behavioral health at work in the instance of obesity. Research findings support that fat, through its secretion of hormones and substances that facilitate inflammation, can affect the mental health of a person at a chemical level. Likewise, inflammation-causing substances begin to flow at a higher volume as a result of the immune system’s state of chronic stress from obesity. Some studies illustrate that the increase of select inflammatory substances in the body can chemically contribute to depression. In the same way that obesity can contribute to depression, depression can contribute to obesity, as a disinterest or inability to attend to physical health is how depression can manifest symptomatically for many people (Davis). 

A growing body of research in the field of nutritional psychiatry looks closely at the relationship between nutrition and the brain. It also supports the use of nutraceutical (nutrient-based) supplements, including choline, zinc, iron, Vitamin D, amino acids, omega-3s, magnesium, and B vitamins, all of which are linked to brain health, to assist with the treatment of some mental disorders (Sarris, et al., 2015).

Equally as important as the “what” of the fuel in thinking about the whole health of a person is the “how” of the fuel. For instance, how we relate to food and food rituals in the social, emotional, and cultural contexts of our lives say a great deal about how we relate to and order the world. Especially with the celebration of National Eating Disorders Awareness and Screening only a week ago, it is appropriate to acknowledge the range of eating and feeding disorders resulting from a combination of biopsychosocial factors in the discussion of food’s place in behavioral health.

Click here to create a TPN.Health clinical profile and get connected to clinicians specializing in eating and feeding disorders in your area. 

 

References:

Davis, Jessica A. Body composition and mental health: healthy body, healthy mind. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://foodandmoodcentre.com.au/2018/05/body-composition-and-mental-health-healthy-body-healthy-mind/

Sarris, J., Logan, A. C., Akbaraly, T. N., Amminger, G. P., Balanzá-Martínez, V., Freeman, M. P., … Jacka, F. N. (2015). International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research consensus position statement: nutritional medicine in modern psychiatry. World Psychiatry, 14(3), 370–371. doi: 10.1002/wps.20223

Post-Mardi Gras and ED Awareness

Based in New Orleans, we at TPN.Health have just experienced the city-wide end of Carnival season. If you live and work in the city limits, then you have undoubtedly been touched in some way by Mardi Gras, whether you wholeheartedly partook in the month-long festivities, staunchly avoided the hullabaloo, or fell somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Even if you tried to avoid the season entirely, you probably had to take a different route at some point due to road closures, heard the sounds from a parade, or encountered an over-zealous tourist.

Humans have been celebrating Mardi Gras since its origins as the Pagan Carnival of ancient Rome. Later, the arrival of Christianity changed the celebration’s intent to precede the forty-day Lenten season of fasting and penance. Mardi Gras, literally translating from French to “Fat Tuesday” in English, would serve as the last opportunity to eat richly and engage in debauchery before the long, somber days of self-deprivation leading up to Easter.

Among its many implications, Mardi Gras presents the opportunity for people, both visitors and locals to depart from ordinary life for a time. It is the invitation to experience a special connection to the city of New Orleans in a spirit of unbridled joy manifested as bright colors, music, dancing, parades, and food. In acknowledging the joy that Mardi Gras holds, it is equally as important to be aware of the  implications of the celebration and post-celebration for the health of both individuals and groups of people. 

Interacting with the Mardi Gras season on any level from abstaining to partaking can mean a variety of things for different people. On both the micro and macro levels, the events of the season can be weighted with experiences of loss, alienation, general anxiety, and stress among other things. Also, like other holidays of prolonged celebration, it is important to keep in mind the tie between the momentum of Mardi Gras, substance use, and the effects of this on individuals. 

With the passing of such a heavily implicated season as Mardi Gras, it is essential to stay aware and mindful of the weight it may hold for individuals. Specifically, Mardi Gras’ historical and cultural ties with the theme of over-indulgence followed by self-deprivation serves as an appropriate bridge into this week, February 24 – March 1, which is National Eating Disorders Awareness and Screening Week. This year’s theme is “Come as You Are: Hindsight 2020,” in which NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) is encouraging its community to reflect on steps taken toward self-acceptance and acceptance of others. 

Curious about eating disorders as a practitioner? Click here to read #NEDAwareness Week 2020 blog series. Need to refer out for eating disorder treatment? Create a TPN.Health profile and use the scopes of practice filter-search tool to find a clinician specializing in eating disorders.

TPN.Health Clinician Spotlight: Beau Laviolette, LCSW, LAC

“What got me into the field was someone else actually believing in me and seeing something I did not see in myself.”

Ten years ago, fresh from the Marine Corps, Beau Laviolette, LCSW, LAC, was contemplating the next phase of his life. Having had exposure to behavioral health as a person in long-term recovery, Beau knew he wanted to find some lasting way to pay it forward to the community that had helped him so significantly. Following encouragement from a friend, Beau decided to take the plunge into behavioral health as a career pathway.

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“I think a big part of it is just learning how to help people in a very healthy way–how to have the skills that I need to be able help people and be able to be the best version of myself in my sessions while I’m helping people.”

Over the past ten years, Beau’s orientation as a practitioner has shifted immensely as a result of attunement to his own experiences in practice. Within this shift has been a willingness to invest in continuing education opportunities and to find out, often by trial-and-error, what works and does not work with clients in a relational context. For instance, when Beau first started practicing, his initial internal question upon meeting a client used to be, “What’s wrong with you?” Now, his internal question is, “What happened?” Over time, Beau has seen the impact of paying attention to and shifting his own internal state as it relates to his interactions with clients and, specifically, practicing from a space of empathy.

In the way of continuing education, Beau emphasizes, “One of the best things that I could do to be a better therapist was learn as much as I can about trauma. I would say that has probably helped me the most [in] working with people, having more empathy for people, [and] having compassion.” Part of his understanding of trauma has been the adoption of IFS-Informed EMDR. Beau has found that the practice of this modality over the past year and a half has created a pathway to solutions for a set of clients who were having an especially difficult time. He notes also that observing the success of the modality with clients has alleviated the dissonance he was experiencing as a practitioner.

“I believe when we stop growing we start dying, and that is true for my profession.”

Creating a community that is supportive of growth has also contributed to Beau’s ongoing paradigm shift as a practitioner. He has found that actively surrounding himself with a community that has a growth-centered mindset has played a role in enabling him to learn how to be a more effective practitioner. Beau continues to find that seeking out colleagues who value growth processes help him not only in the context of his practice, but in building various facets of his professional life as a whole. 

Essential to Beau’s journey in the behavioral health field is his continued diversification into professional roles in addition to therapist, such as online teacher and public speaker, all of which have built upon one another to create his brand Therapy Teacher. Beau emphasizes that part of his health as a professional in the behavioral health field depends upon his ability to wear several hats and, in the process, accumulate resources that will support him in times of transition. 

Building a public presence, specifically online, centered around education in the behavioral health field for Beau has been a uniquely challenging and successful process. He has sought the consultation of professionals outside the behavioral health industry and spent hours learning skills such as video editing and website design. Foundational to the micro-successes within the project, Beau finds, is the experience of a multitude of failures. He notes that a willingness to step out of his comfort zone in the way of time and resource expenditure has been invaluable in getting the project off the ground and moving it forward. 

“Where I am in my life and business I’m probably experiencing more freedom than I have in years of my whole career.”

In the long term, Beau expresses his desire to structure avenues that allow him to share what he has built with other therapists, such offering tangible services for building an online-presence, like video editing, or other opportunities for consultation. It is his hope to use TPN.Health as a tool not only to support his private practice but to create opportunities for diversification by sharing his original content on the platform and connecting with like-minded professionals in the field. 

Do you value diversification as a behavioral health professional? Perhaps you already play roles such as teacher or content-creator in addition to practitioner. Perhaps you’d like to start! Not only is TPN.Health a platform for supporting the referral process but a platform for supporting you as a professional in the behavioral health field. Connect to other members in TPN.Health to create opportunities for professional growth and share resources in our newsfeed.

The Referral Network

The Building Blocks for a Referral Network: TPN.Health Endorsement

When you endorse another TPN.Health member, you’re saying, “I have worked with this provider and know that they are providing a quality of care that is worthy of a referral.” The feature allows you to endorse a provider for a specific specialization and write a note if you have more to say about the provider. In a future iteration of the endorsement, you will be able to endorse not only for specializations but for focus issues and modalities as well.

If you endorse another member, it is noted on their clinical profile. For example, Jessica Gibson Kendrick, LPC, has received an endorsement from Dr. Patrick Bordnick, and this is visible to any TPN.Health member who finds Jessica Kendrick’s profile.

The Referral Network

Since TPN.Health launched in August of 2019, we have received invaluable input from our community that is enabling us to build a more efficient platform. We have discovered that behind the referral process are accessible referral networks consisting of living relationships among providers. From a conversation between TPN.Health member Tanya Stuart, LCSW-BACS, LAC, CCS and TPN.Health CEO, Trevor Colhoun, it was clear that there was a need for a more efficient way to build and track those relationships. And, perhaps, TPN.Health could provide the solution.

Over years in practice, Tanya has been tracking her relationships with the providers she trusts in an excel spreadsheet. She keeps the sheet updated with current information on the providers and uses it to make referrals and field calls from other providers. In this way, Tanya has created her own referral process by painstakingly recording her network’s data as it evolves. Likewise, she is the point-person for others who need access to the data. When Tanya approached Trevor with this information, he proposed that TPN.Health could build in a feature that would alleviate the grunt-work and headache of this process.

The solution: referral networks. In a nutshell, referral networks are an aggregate of all the providers you endorse made visible to your network in a list on your TPN.Health clinical profile. How it works: All the providers on Tanya’s analog list individually create their own TPN.Health clinical profiles. Tanya’s only work then is to endorse them for their specializations in TPN.Health. After she endorses them, their profiles appear in a list visible on Tanya’s clinical profile. In this way, the pool serves as a visible representation of the analog relationships that Tanya has worked to build and track for so long. No more fielding calls or hunting for updates on providers’ information. 

The launch of the referral network as a TPN.Health feature is especially exciting because it is a key feature in building out not only your personal network in TPN.Health but the network as a whole. A provider, such as Tanya, who already has an expansive analog referral network can bring their network into the digital space of TPN.Health. Simply by utilizing the endorsement feature in TPN.Health, a provider is enabled to track their referral network and make it available to other providers with a click of a button. In a similar way, a provider who perhaps is new to the field and does not have a large analog network, can create the foundation for their referral processes with access to the expansive referral networks of more experienced providers. Trevor Colhoun comments that the endorsement pool’s capacity to build and track connections within TPN.Health is directly serving our mission to bring the trusted providers across the expanse of the field under one accessible umbrella. 

The essence of the referral network is that it serves as another layer supporting providers’ navigation of behavioral health field processes through TPN.Health. We’re excited to keep building these layers into the platform! Stay tuned.

Endorsement Pool FAQs:

      1. Where is my referral network? 

Your referral network is found on your profile under “Sent” Clinician Endorsements. 

The endorsement pool can also be found underneath Referral Stats on your Profile Overview tab.

      2. Who can see my referral network? 

Your referral network lives on your clinical profile, so you will always be able to see it. TPN.Health members with whom you are connected can also see it. 

**Note** In a future iteration, members that want access to your referral network will need to be connected to you, and you will have the option to grant them access to view your pool. We know that you have worked to build these relationships and want to give you as much agency as possible in your choices when sharing this information with other providers.

     3. Can I search within another providers referral network? 

Once you are connected to the provider, you will be able use a filter-search, similar to the standard clinician filter-search, within that provider’s endorsement pool. This feature is coming soon.

Click here to begin building a trusted referral network in TPN.Health!

Specializing in Grief and Loss: Allison Durant, LPC

“I feel a really strong connection to destigmatizing grief.”

Through a journey of professional re-alignment and education in her own healing processes, Allison Durant, LPC, is doing work centered around therapeutic support and education in experiences of grief and loss. Her passion for addressing the issues of grief and loss stem from a personal encounter with loss at a young age and the resulting attunement to societal intolerance and stigma surrounding the issues. Having worked as a CPA in healthcare for the majority of her career, she began to consider a career shift that would allow her to cultivate this passion as well as facilitate meaningful experiences for people.

headshot of allison durant

Seeing the benefit of receiving counseling services in her own life, Allison became curious in the behavioral health field as an option for a career-shift. Curiosity turned to action when she enrolled in a Masters in Counseling Education program at UNO in 2012. Working diligently since that time, Allison celebrates completion of the LPC licensure process as of January 7, 2020! Allison reflects that the experience of re-committing to a degree program after having spent so many years away from academia was uniquely challenging and rewarding. Going back to school was difficult in the realms of mindset-shifting and balance with other areas of her life, such as working and being a mom. However, her commitment to the behavioral health path was and is fueled by a vision of specificity, which makes the arduous process worthwhile.

Today, Allison is manifesting the intention to address grief and loss stigma in the community and provide therapeutic support to grieving people by opening the New Orleans Grief Center. In addition to providing one-on-one counseling services, she is facilitating two weekly therapeutic groups with a psychoeducational component through the spring. The “Grief” group is open to all people who have experienced a significant loss, and the “Motherless Daughters” group is geared toward women who have experienced the loss of a primary caregiver before the age of twenty-five.

flyer with detailed info

As her practice is still in a fledgling stage, Allison notes that this time is about evaluating the nuanced needs of the local community in the way of grief and loss support. So far, the general grief group has been geared toward loss relating to death as this is what the participants seek. However, Allison also emphasizes the breadth of grief and loss work, such as in the loss of a job, anticipation of a loss, or life transitions.

As it stands, New Orleans does not have a centralized location for grief and loss support services, specifically nonprofit services. While attuning to the community’s needs, Allsion’s goal is to open a non-profit center, that offers support specifically for children and families who have experienced a loss. She hopes to model the center after the Dougy Center: The National Center For Grieving Children and Families in Portland, Oregon.

 “I’m not afraid to reach out.”

In the process of entering the behavioral health field as a practitioner, Allison sees no shortage of avenues for support including her classmates at UNO, a supervisor who understands her path, and colleagues with whom she offices. If she has a question or needs additional resources, she feels confident in reaching out with a phone call or email for that support. Likewise, having years of professional experience as a CPA in healthcare, Allison is primed to engage with the business-side of building her practice. She acknowledges that her body of life experience both personally and professionally serve to support her in the practice of counseling and in creating a new career pathway.

“I’m really curious.”

In the spirit of future possibilities, Allison considers doing research on early caregiver loss and its long-term impacts, as this is an area that lacks exploration in current peer-reviewed literature. Also on the long-term, she is excited for the prospect of an opportunity for a 4-day retreat on early mother loss in the New Orleans area. Author of New York Times Bestseller Motherless Daughters, Hope Edelman, with whom Allison connected on a trip to Peru, would co-lead the retreat in 2021. Fingers crossed!

Allison and Hope Edelman on the Peru Trip
Allison Durant, LPC, and Hope Edelman in Peru
Allison Durant, LPC, and Hope Edelman in Peru
Allison Durant, LPC, and Hope Edelman in Peru

Connect with Allison Durant, LPC, on TPN.Health.

Building Your Network in TPN.Health

“By clinicians for clinicians.”

TPN.Health is a collaborative and comprehensive platform. The platform serves as a digital network-secure tool which serves to support the work of professionals navigating behavioral health systems. We have discovered the value of an effective tool can be accredited to community engagement, and we seek to create a community that promotes intentional engagement with TPN.Health digital features. These features, such as the personalized clinical profile and the endorsement, enable members to actually build an accessible network of trusted professionals within the digital space of TPN.Health. In this way, we truly are built “by clinicians.” 

We understand that the goal of a behavioral health professional throughout the referral process is finding the best clinical fit for each client. Behind that process is not only access to enough of the right clinicians and providers but a way to find them and keep track of them. Today, we are addressing network-building, which lies behind the TPN.Health referral process, and how you, an active TPN.Health member, can make the tool work to its greatest potential. 

How To Build Your Network in TPN.Health

1. Create a robust clinical profile. 

SEARCHABILITY. Filling out specific fields when creating your clinical profile is essential because it allows you to be filter-searched in TPN.Health. Filter-searchable fields include:

  • Referrals: Indicate whether or not you are “Accepting Referrals” with the button
  • Specializations (Scopes of Practice)
    • Age/Gender  
  • Focus Issues
  • Modalities and Interventions
  • Insurances Accepted
  • Languages

Other fields that are not filter-searchable but that contribute to your identity in the TPN.Health community include:

  • Biography
  • Photo
  • Education
  • Publication list
  • Link to your website if you have one
  • Video of:
    • You
    • The space in which you practice
    • Other facets your work

The goal is to create a clinical profile that accurately reflects and showcases your identity as a professional in the behavioral health field!

2.Connect.  

Now that you have created a robust clinical profile, you can begin to reach out to other members to make them a part of your network. When you click “Connect” on another member’s profile, they are notified and can accept your connection request. Once they accept, both parties have access to the direct messaging feature. Note that your connections are only visible to you.

3. Endorse.

You can endorse other community members with whom you have worked for a specific specialization or scope of practice. Be as detailed as possible when endorsing because sent and received endorsements are visible on your profile! Endorsements are visible markers of living relationships with other trusted professionals in the network. In this way, they are key to creating strong networks supporting the referral process in TPN.Health. 

Alongside the endorsement feature, we are excited to announce the first iteration of the endorsement pool, which is simply a collection of your outward-endorsements made visible on your TPN.Health profile. With the endorsement pool, other members can see inside your personal network of providers and the specific scopes of practice for which you are endorsing those providers. Stay tuned for a blog on the endorsement pool as a key feature of building a reliable referral network in TPN.Health. 

Do you have questions about how to effectively build a network that supports the referral process inside TPN.Health? Reach out to us here!

Haven’t started building with us yet? Take the first step here.