Oh, how the times haven’t changed. The mental health diagnosis and treatment process has largely worked the same since Freud:
- Patient visits therapist and voices a concern.
- Therapist asks questions, arrives at diagnosis, and endeavors to ease the patient’s symptoms.
- Patient feels better … until they don’t.
- Rinse and repeat.
Truth is, traditional therapy models have needed an upgrade for a while now—which is why Lightfully is taking a whole new approach to behavioral health.
“The problem is, no two people are the same,” says Amber Parris Claudon, LICSW and Lightfully’s Vice President of Clinical Training. “The experiences of mental health conditions vary by individual. Plus, patients typically have at least one other condition. Conceptualizing a client’s mental health problem based on diagnosis limits the full picture of the client’s experience.”
Makes you wonder: Can therapists using a traditional treatment model—which most often amounts to symptom Whac-A-Mole—create meaningful and lasting change?
“Not consistently,” Claudon says. “They’re offering temporary relief—and that’s important—but they’re not necessarily creating change that helps the patient live differently and better.”
That’s why Lightfully is embracing an enhanced model of care known as process-based therapy (PBT). Instead of focusing on symptom reduction, PBT identifies the mental and emotional processes (hence the name) perpetuating the symptoms.
It then draws an integrated set of therapeutic interventions from a variety of evidence-based treatment modalities—from cognitive behavioral therapy to EMDR and everything in between—to deliver care that works best for each patient and, ideally, becomes sustainable for life.
This sounds exciting, you may be thinking. But where do I learn PBT and how it works? Great question. The answer: Right here.
Lightfully’s innovative Equip training model ensures mastery of all the therapeutic techniques that are used in the PBT framework, which is reinforced over time through ongoing data-driven feedback from seasoned supervisors. “We’ve centered our entire organization in the use of data to systematically and steadily improve our clinical model and everything else we do,” Claudon says.
Here’s what makes Lightfully’s commitment to treatment, training, and culture so special.
Unique benefit #1: On-the-job continuing education comes with your employment package
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been good for mental health, and that includes the mental health of clinicians who provide treatment.
“At Lightfully, we’ve been asking ourselves how we recruit the team we want and need,” says Allison McCabe, Clinical Development Specialist at Lightfully. “How do we set them up for success? How do we make the job so satisfying that they want to stay for all the personal and professional growth opportunities we’ve built into our culture?”
Pay and benefits are just the beginning—and both are best-in-class. “We also ask ourselves, how do we prepare our staff to do a difficult job well,” says McCabe, “so they find value in coming to work every day.”
The answer: the Equip model’s approach to onboarding and training, which is anchored in three core areas:
- Building competence to engender confidence.
- Offering tangible tools—systems and processes that help therapists do their jobs better.
- Creating a community and culture that gives people permission to embrace ongoing learning.
Equip is a competency-based and feedback-driven method of training in which Lightfully employees are provided with intentionally paced education, practice, and feedback to build mastery and professional fulfillment. Let’s unpack that a bit:
- Competency-Based: Every therapist will build measurable competencies in the set of integrated therapeutic interventions gleaned from evidence-based therapies.
- Feedback-Driven: Lightfully’s approach is learn, practice, share (more on that later).
- Intentionally Paced: Each employee moves through training as they build proficiencies. There’s no schedule. Timelines vary by employee—and that’s OK!
- Mastery-Oriented: Once an employee demonstrates a mastery of a specific competency, they move to the next.
Unique benefit #2: We don’t toss you in the deep end
A cornerstone of the Equip model is “train before treat,” which simply means our staff is required to demonstrate competency prior to working with clients. New therapists at Lightfully do not take a caseload until they have had at least a month of intensive training.
Our facilities offer a rich training experience in which all our fully licensed therapists learn from one another. Even better, because every clinician is bringing different experiences and core competencies, everyone on some level serves as both student and teacher.
There’s where “learn, practice, share” comes in. It works like this:
- Learn: After a few weeks of onboarding, new clinicians shadow others who are conducting individual and group sessions.
- Practice: Starting around week five, you’ll pick up a caseload of one or two patients. You’ll begin evaluating patients and identifying the appropriate intervention. This expands to a full caseload at week six.
- Share: Once you exhibit mastery of some of the 12 intervention buckets, you begin teaching these therapies to your peers.
Pacing guidelines ensure the staff isn’t taking on too much too soon. “You learn a little more every week until you’re fully trained,” Claudon says.
Your supervisor will sit in on your sessions for a while, but you’ll gain more autonomy as time goes on. Eventually, they’ll check in only occasionally. In some cases, sessions may be recorded in the spirit of continuous learning.
“This kind of training and onboarding timeline is unheard of in the field,” Claudon says. “Often, staff is thrown into their jobs too quickly at the expense of the team and ultimately the clients. At Lightfully, we have made a commitment to making training and staff competency a priority.”
Unique benefit #3: Imperfection is okay. In fact, we encourage it
The Japanese practice a world view called wabi-sabi, or the celebration of imperfection. Lightfully’s clinical model leaves a lot of room for trial and error. In fact, it’s encouraged, as is bringing the learning back to the wider group.
One example: “Maybe you try something in a session and record it,” explains Claudon. “You then share the recording with your supervisor and colleagues and ask for their feedback. It’s a very vulnerable action, but it’s the culture we want to create here.”
Why? Continuous learning means creating a safe environment to succeed and fail fast—and then sharing the good or bad news immediately, openly, and honestly.
“Your colleagues may be able to build on what you tried or connect it to something they’ve done that you can learn from,” adds McCabe. “It’s how we create a continuous feedback loop.”
Unique benefit #4: We prep you for your next big thing
At Lightfully, we want our team to come for the job, but stay for the career. And our onboarding and training is specifically designed to be the first step of that journey.
“Equip as a training program is extremely unique,” Claudon says. “This type of thing doesn’t exist outside of grad school or a Ph.D. program.”
Think about it: Your training team consists of licensed therapists across a dozen competencies. It’s like learning moviemaking by hanging out with Spielberg, Scorsese, and Tarantino in a theater every day. Your office becomes a learning institute.
“The commonality is the 12 intervention buckets—they’re consistent across the levels,” Claudon says. One person might know the basics of exposure therapy and another will have more advanced understanding, but they’re all speaking the same language.
Compare that to the way many therapists feel today: quickly trained, rapidly launched into a full caseload, lightly supported, and rarely feeling like a larger community will always have their back with ongoing, nurturing feedback that allows them to continue to grow their skills.
“We have an epidemic on our hands, and retention problems in this field are a big part of it,” Claudon says. “What if we could create a place where people are trained and prepared to do this work, and it works? How cool would that be?”