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TPN.Health is Recalibrating the Referral Process

We at Trusted Provider Network talk a lot about the referral process and rightly so. We talk about it because TPN.Health is the professional tool for clinicians to make and receive referrals for clients based upon the best clinical fit. It’s a big part of why we’re here. The goal is to put the process in clinicians’ (your) hands so that it is easily navigable. After all, behavioral health is a field where there is not enough time in the day for clinicians to be caught up in search issues. So, I asked a few clinicians, each of whom use a referral process appropriate to their own practices, to share their experiences with the referral process.

TPN.Health member Taylor Farris, LMSW, works at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Facility. Her work at the jail is largely crisis management, getting people stabilized and maintaining that stabilization. Beyond the crisis management, Taylor herself often lacks the time and resources to provide clients what they need. It is at this point that the need to refer out surfaces; she says, “It’s imperative to have a good list of people. Once I know they (clients) are being released, I need to find someone that can really start the intensive therapy process…to try to break that cycle of incarceration.” She needs to know for sure that the people to whom she is referring can help the population she serves.

Some of you have expressed that you are in institutional or organizational settings where your place of work already has a solid referral system, so you never need to make referrals yourself. Even though you’re not making referrals, other clinicians can still search for you. The idea is that you are searchable, able to display the parts of your scopes of practice that are most important to you and the modalities, theories, and therapies you want to practice.

Others of you in the behavioral health space may not be in the business of seeing clients. Perhaps you are in a setting oriented instead to academia. For instance, Dr. Patrick Bordnick, LCSW, Dean of the Tulane School of Social Work, and Chair of the Board of Advisors for TPN.Health, does not himself see clients, but people often call him for referrals. Likewise, he notes the fringe benefit of being able to search for and find vetted providers for loved ones. In his experience, the referral process in the behavioral health space is presently “cumbersome, unclear, and unscalable,” and TPN.Health serves to address this issue.

At the recent TPN.Health sponsored “Teaching DBT Skills” training, I had an opportunity to speak with Mark Saucier, LPC. He works in the counseling department at a local behavioral hospital and owns a small private practice, for which the giving and receiving of referrals is necessary. Mark really spoke to the underpinnings of referrals when he expressed, “[I am] always needing them and always happy to give [them] because I don’t know everything, and I don’t know anyone who does, so maybe all of us together can figure it out.”

Underneath the referral process is the need for different human beings to practice, in honesty, what is uniquely theirs to practice. In a similar way, there is a need for a community of clinicians as diverse as the people it serves. TPN.Health Ambassador and member Parker Sternbergh, LCSW, touched on the subject of diversity when she noted how important it is for her to “bring herself” into practice. This means integration of creativity and nuances from her own lived experience into the role of clinician.

It is true that no one provider is clinically equipped to address all manner of things and people that happen to float, barge, slump, or dance into their office, but there is even more to it than that. Principally, a therapeutic encounter is a human encounter. This means it is quite possible that non-negotiable barriers come up when determining clinical fit. These barriers can take the form of differences in gender, communication style, energy level, perceived power, age, or any number of nuanced perceptions that influence how people exist in an encounter with another person.

So, part of the clinical fit is the human fit. Will clinician and client be able to relate to one another? Are there barriers that we can help remove to locate a better match between clinician and client? These are questions to consider when making a referral, and TPN.Health is giving you the tool to navigate to solutions, through access to a trusted, diverse community.

Click here to begin making and receiving referrals in TPN.Health!