Grant will allow Bert Nash to roll out substance use treatment for young people

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Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center has received a grant to implement a substance use treatment program for people ages 14 to 21, the center has announced.

Bert Nash received $200,000 through the Kansas Fights Addiction Act. The funds will support startup costs for the evidence-based program, called the Matrix Model for Teens and Young Adults, according to the center’s announcement.

“The Matrix Model is a structured, multi-component behavioral treatment model that consists of evidence-based practices, including relapse prevention, family therapy, group therapy, psycho-education, and self-help, delivered in a sequential and clinically coordinated manner,” according to an informational webpage about Matrix. “The model consists of 16 weeks of group sessions held three times per week, which combine Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, family education, social support, individual counseling, and urine drug testing.”

Over the course of a year, the center plans to offer three sessions of the 16-week program with eight to 12 members per group, according to the announcement.

The goal is to serve about 40 clients in the first year, said Ashley Countryman, Bert Nash’s director of addiction services. So some groups may have 13 to 14 members, depending on who is seeking services at the time.

Bert Nash/Contributed photo Ashley Countryman

“It will be an ‘open’ group model, meaning people can start at any point in the curriculum, therefore the number of group attendees will always be in flux,” she said in emailed responses to follow-up questions.

Treatment is geared toward adolescents ages 14 to 18, and “transitional” youth ages 18 to 21, according to the announcement.

“On an ongoing basis, we will assess the appropriateness of new group members based on who is currently in the group,” Countryman said regarding whether 14- to 18-year-olds would be in the same group as 18- to 21-year-olds in the program.

Countryman said the center has developed and will offer a 10-session educational series for staff members that covers a wide variety of addiction topics. The center will also send two therapists to Matrix Model training, and two managers to the Matrix Model supervisors training, she said.

Countryman said the grant money will cover hiring a dually licensed therapist, meaning one who is licensed to treat mental health as well as substance use disorders. (Although the two are often concurrent, the state licenses treatment providers separately.)

The center will also offer incentives for current mental health therapists to obtain substance use disorder licenses, either as licensed masters addiction counselors (LMAC) or as licensed clinical addiction counselors (LCAC), Countryman said.

Asked how the center will determine whether clients might be a good fit for the program, Countryman said all clients at Bert Nash participate in a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment, which includes substance abuse screening tools to help identify substance use issues.

“If the screening tool indicates there is a possible substance abuse issue, additional information is gathered around substance use to determine if a person would benefit from substance abuse treatment,” she said. “From there, we will use criteria to determine the appropriate level of care for the person.”

Countryman said in the announcement that the closest treatment program like this is 40 miles away, and that she didn’t know of anyone else in the area using this particular curriculum.

“We will be using all of our resources and building a program around that,” she said in the announcement.

The center aims to begin accepting clients for the 16-week outpatient program by Jan. 1, 2024.

Bert Nash also recently received the first round of approval for a zoning change to use the building at 3500 Clinton Place as a satellite location including medical office space, therapy spaces, associated services and overnight respite care for kids and teens in crisis to stabilize.

That rezoning request is on the Lawrence City Commission’s Tuesday meeting agenda. Read more about that project at this link.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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