Behavioral Health Services
Behavioral healthcare is an integral part of the Transplant Center. The behavioral health program that we have developed here is comprehensive, unique, and integrated into the transplant continuum of care. Very few transplant programs have a full-time behavioral health team dedicated exclusively to the behavioral healthcare of its patients. The comprehensive nature of the treatment programs we offer also sets us apart from most other programs, and allows you and your family to access the care you need under one roof.
Our experienced team of transplant social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists provide a complement of clinical services designed to help patients and families before, during, and after transplantation. The demands of chronic medical illness, its treatments, and transplant survivorship can be daunting and overwhelming. Our highly regarded and compassionate behavioral health providers are available to help you cope more successfully with these challenges. From the time of your first appointment in the Transplant Center, our behavioral health team will work with you to identify your behavioral healthcare needs, improve your health, and enhance your opportunity for a successful transplant.
Behavioral health services include comprehensive psychosocial and psychological evaluation; individual counseling or psychotherapy; couples therapy; and family therapy. We also collaborate with BIDMC neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and psychopharmacologists who have considerable experience with transplant patients. Also, we work closely with medical and mental health providers from surrounding communities to ensure seamless medical, psychological, and psychiatric treatment.
We have several behavioral health treatment programs designed to target common issues that confront our transplant patients and their families. These programs are empirically based, that is, anchored in practical experience, and include:
Stress Management for Patients and their Caregivers
This treatment program teaches you about the nature of stress and its impact on your overall health. You will learn how to keep your mind healthy throughout the transplant process, and you will develop and practice specific strategies for dealing with daily hassles and bigger stressful events. We will teach you visual imagery and relaxation techniques that are effective in managing stress.
Strategies to Improve Medication-taking
Every one of our patients has a cocktail of medication that they are advised to take daily. Often, the medication regimen is very complex; for example, involving many different pills that must be taken at certain times of day, with or without food, or other conditions. We ask you to take your medications following a set schedule - a challenge if your liver or kidney disease may be causing some memory problems for you. Our adherence treatment program will help you identify the medication-taking strategies that are the best fit for you, and then teach you how to integrate them into your daily routine.
Alcohol and Drug Relapse Prevention
We offer a short-term (8 to 12 sessions) treatment program designed to help prevent relapse to problematic alcohol or drug use, something that can negatively affect your transplant candidacy as well as your transplant recovery. In this cognitive-behavioral treatment program, you will gain more insight into past abuse or dependency, develop effective ways to cope with stress, identify high-risk situations and how to deal with them, develop effective strategies for coping with cravings and urges, and manage negative moods like depression and anxiety. In most cases, our treatment program meets the requirements of our substance abuse policy here in the Transplant Center (although some people may need more intensive, long-term treatment). We will coordinate your care and provide immediate feedback to your transplant physicians about your progress in treatment.
Significant obesity can compromise your general health, as well as increase the risk of transplant-related complications. This weight loss treatment program will have you working closely with our transplant nutritionist and health psychologist, who will design a program specifically tailored to meet your individual needs. We will help you to establish weight loss goals, boost your nutritional knowledge, identify cognitive and behavioral patterns that contribute to your weight gain, and monitor your progress over time. When necessary, we will coordinate a referral to more intensive weight loss programs and help you to access these programs.
Improve Quality of Life
You don't need to wait for your transplant to start improving your quality of life. Your quality of life is not defined entirely by your physical health. Your relationships with others, how you spend your time at home, your work, your goals and aspirations, among other things, are also important and help to determine your overall level of personal satisfaction and well-being. We have a short-term treatment program designed to help you improve your quality of life - before and after a transplant. We will assess your quality of life in a variety of different areas and work with you to increase your overall life satisfaction.
It is well known that smoking cause health problems. We advise all of our patients to quit smoking, and we offer a treatment program to help do it successfully. Our cognitive-behavioral smoking cessation program will help you better understand the physiological and psychological addiction to nicotine and how to overcome them. You will learn how to identify key triggers, cope with cravings, and change longstanding behavioral patterns to give yourself the best chance of staying quit. This four-session treatment program is sometimes combined with nicotine replacement therapy, medications, and/or computer-assisted programs. We will work with you to develop the most effective treatment plan to help quit smoking and stay quit. Your caregivers are also welcome to participate in this treatment program.
Caring for someone with a chronic illness can be very challenging - both physically and emotionally. We offer treatment services to the caregivers of our transplant patients. These services will teach you how to recognize the signs and symptoms of caregiver strain, effectively manage caregiver stress, get the respite care that you need, and access caregiver resources that may be helpful to you.
Transplantation offers hope for the future, and with this comes new challenges of survivorship. Our team of behavioral health experts is available to you and your family in the months and years before and after transplantation, to help you take advantage of every opportunity to get the most from your transplant experience.