I Am Ready To Get Help, Now What?

In this episode, Shannon Spollen will discuss the process of working with a treatment placement specialist.

I Am Ready To Get Help, Now What?
Shannon Spollen, MBA

Shannon Spollen, MBA is a Treatment Placement Specialist.


 Scott Webb (Host): On today's podcast, I'm going to speak with Shannon Spollen. She's a treatment placement specialist, and she's going to explain what she does and how she helps folks and take us through the process of working with a treatment placement specialist.

Welcome to My Miracle Radio, a podcast by Sierra Tucson Alumni Relations. I'm Scott Webb. Shannon, it's so nice to have you here. Thanks so much for joining me.

Shannon Spollen: Thanks for having me on.

Host: Yeah. This is going to be good. Sort of framing this as, "I'm ready to get help. So now, what do I do?" But before we get there, what does a treatment placement specialist do?

Shannon Spollen: The mission of the treatment placement specialist is to provide complementary treatment guidance and referrals for individuals who are seeking help for behavioral health concerns, so that includes mental health, trauma, substance use disorders, and eating disorders. I like to put it really simply to people as that I, as a treatment placement specialist, am essentially like a hub. People come to me through various ways and methods. And we talk a little bit, we connect a little bit. And then, my goal is to get you right back out again, but moving in a more intentional direction toward the next step.

Host: Yeah, I can see what you mean, a variety of ways in which folks might get to you. And let's then look at the benefits. What are the benefits to working with someone like yourself when folks are ready to get help?

Shannon Spollen: There's a lot of benefits to it, but I think I'd simplify it by saying that we are a soft landing spot for people. So whether they're getting to us through a therapist or a psych provider that they're working with, or they've gotten our number from a co-worker, let's just say, we're a soft landing spot for people to meet them where they're at, and then to help do a little bit of hand-holding through the process and what's next. So regardless of how someone gets to me, regardless of what their history may be with seeking or receiving help in the past, no one is ever coming to me because they're having the best day of their life. Most people are feeling really overwhelmed by their circumstances. They're maybe feeling a little bit emotionally charged. They may or may not be able to advocate for themselves in terms of what they're really wanting or needing. They may or may not know what questions to ask, not just of a treatment program that they're talking to, but they may or may not even know what questions to ask themselves about what's important to them, what their goals are in treatment and what they're wanting to look at in terms of a treatment program. So, I want to be that soft spot for them where they're getting not just some recommendations for what comes next, but just information in general on what this all looks like. There's a lot of mystery and there's a lot of unknown for people who are coming into this with no experience in this space whatsoever.

And regardless of what kind of recommendations I make for you, the decision is yours to make. And I want you to feel empowered to make that decision, and the best way that I know of for you to feel empowered to make the decision is to have some knowledge about what all of this is, what it all means, what the options are in front of you. You need to have all of that information or at least have some high-level overview to feel comfortable to do that and know that I'm here to support what that decision is.

Host: Yeah. And along the lines of sharing that knowledge, let's go through the process of working with a treatment placement specialist and what that looks like for folks.

Shannon Spollen: So, that's going to largely depend on the person themself. So, sometimes I talk to people who they've been to treatment before, they're pretty savvy, they know what residential treatment looks like, they know what the goals are, they know what goes on there. They're really ready to roll and they want to be admitted into treatment somewhere in the next, let's say, 48 to 72 hours. So if that's your goal, we can certainly make that happen and we can move that quickly. One conversation, collect your insurance, move you on to an admissions team at a program and then, get that ball rolling.

And then, there are some people who it's a much slower process because they're at a different point in that process. So, sometimes I'll talk to clients themselves who maybe their therapist has referred them to me to talk about residential treatment or intensive outpatient programming, and they have no idea what either of those things mean. So, some people are just wanting to understand the differences between the two so that they can think about making a decision. And sometimes I work with family members who they have a loved one who is kind of expressing a readiness to get help, or they're at least talking about it. And so, they're wanting to talk to me to ask a whole lot of questions, to gather some information, and to have a plan in place so that when their loved one says, "Okay. I'm ready. Let's do this," they have a number to call to immediately start putting that plan into action.

So, it's really going to depend on the person. But for the most part, it's always going to include at least one phone call to gather information to find out what's going on, and then collecting insurance, getting insurance benefits run with a program so we have an idea of cost for someone. And then, from there, getting them connected to an admissions team at a program to begin the assessment process and, hopefully, then admit into the program.

Host: Yeah. And as you said, you sort of view yourself, think of yourself as kind of this hub and that sounds right. That checks out. What are some of the things you talk about with clients and their families?

Shannon Spollen: So, everything that we talk about is really an effort for me to be able to make a recommendation for you that will hopefully be a good fit. I think a lot of times people get caught up in this idea that they need to find a treatment program for fill-in-the-blank diagnosis that works with fill-in-the-blank insurance. So, somebody might come to me and say, "I've been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression, and I have Blue Cross Blue Shield." There are a boatload of places that can work with that diagnosis that are in network with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Not every one of those programs is going to be a solid fit for you, the client. You know, insurance and diagnosis are two important pieces of the puzzle, but they're not the entire puzzle. There are a whole lot of other factors that we want to consider if we're looking at making a targeted recommendation for somebody. So if someone's been to treatment before, I'll usually ask them where they went to treatment, how long ago that was, what worked for them there, what didn't work for them there, what felt good about it, what didn't. We'll talk about not just the diagnosis, but what do you feel like you're struggling with right now and what are your goals? So, you have been diagnosed with PTSD and depression and anxiety. But maybe you're also really having a hard time with your sleep and maybe you've been prescribed medication to help with your sleep. And now, you're kind of all over the map, because maybe that medication is having some negative impacts on your sleep and you don't really want to stay on it, but you're having trouble regulating that medication for that. I talk to a lot of people who are on a lot of medications and really want to dial that down or get off of medication altogether. So, talking about what those other goals are outside of just your diagnosis and healing from that, that's also important, as is environmental factors.

So, we can be talking about the best clinical program, the most robust clinical program in the world, but it's co-ed and you need something gender-specific. In that case, all the rest of it doesn't matter, because now we need to be looking at just those programs that are gender-specific. So, the size of the environment, the makeup of the population, what other kinds of things they do there at treatment that feel comfortable and good to you. Like if somebody really hates yoga, we don't need to be looking at a program where they're going to be required to do yoga three times a week. You know, if it's optional, great, I would encourage somebody to really push some of those boundaries and just try it and see how it goes. But if they absolutely hate yoga, the best place for them is not going to be where yoga is incorporated into their treatment required three times a week. So, that's just an example of, you know, all of these other factors that make up what a good fit is for somebody outside of just diagnosis and insurance.

Host: Yeah. Good stuff today. Just want to finish up and give folks a sense of, all right, so they're going to enter treatment. What happens next? And is that the end of the conversation with someone like yourself?

Shannon Spollen: So, it doesn't have to be. I tell every person that I talk to regardless of what they end up doing from there. You have my name, you have my number, hold onto it. Save it in your phone. Know that, you know, maybe you're not ready at this moment to move forward. But a month from now, six months from now, a year from now, you might be ready, and you'll have my number. You might find that you take a recommendation that I give you, you do some programming, or maybe you were just looking for a recommendation for a local therapist, I can give you that information. And I've had people then come to me three months later like, "Hey, my cousin or my neighbor, my coworker is looking for a therapist. Could you help with that?" So, hold on to my number. Know that you can always reach back out to me again. It doesn't stop here. And you can always share my number with other people too. My services are free, so I am more than happy to help anybody who's looking for help.

But as far as what happens then, if you admit into a program, if you're admitting into a program within the Acadia umbrella, Acadia being the company that I work for, you'll be assigned a treatment team once you arrive at treatment. That treatment team is going to be working with you through the course of your treatment and also making recommendations for you for next steps once you leave treatment. And that's something that they are all continuously working on, even from your first days in treatment. And then, the aftercare team there is going to my team, the treatment placement specialist team, to get those recommendations. So, if the treatment team is recommending to step down to PHP and IOP, or get set up with outpatient providers if you don't have them, they're really looking to us to provide those guided recommendations.

So from a figurative standpoint, that's not the end of the conversation. And specifically when it comes to working with families, oftentimes, when I'm working with a family member and it's their loved one who is the identified client, I'll usually have some sort of communication with the family once the client has gone into treatment. I don't like to really be intrusive with people. So, I'll be there as a resource for them if they want to reach out to me. And oftentimes they do, because they have now some additional questions about what happens from here, who do I talk to, what do I do. But sometimes I'll have family members who are just really having a hard time now that their loved one has gotten to treatment, they're safe, they're contained, they're starting to do some of their healing work, and now they're finding, the family member is finding that some things are starting to creep up for them. Like now, all of their energy that had previously been directed toward getting their loved one to treatment is having trouble finding a new place to be put. So, in those situations, I'll talk to family members about supporting their own selves and recognizing that your loved one is on a journey, as are you. And sometimes those paths will intersect or travel together, and sometimes they won't.

But regardless of what your loved one who is in treatment does or does not do, you still need to do for yourself. So if you feel like you maybe want to start doing some work with a therapist, I'm more than happy to provide some recommendations, some referrals for you for a therapist who might do some good work with you. I am only making recommendations for programs and providers who I know, who I've vetted, so that it's really more of a trusted referral and recommendation as opposed to just googling and, again, looking for someplace that works with a diagnosis and an insurance.

Host: Yeah, that's awesome. And when it comes to trust and you making recommendations about people that you've vetted, professionals that you've vetted, can definitely see the value. So, it was really educational today. Appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

Shannon Spollen: You're welcome. Thanks again for having me on.

Host: This has been My Miracle Radio by Sierra Tucson Alumni Relations. For more information, please visit sierratucson.com. I'm Scott Webb. Thanks for listening.