STEP becomes New Journeys site

Department news | December 28, 2021

The Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) Program based at the Harborview Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) has officially joined the New Journeys Network in Washington state. New Journeys is an early intervention program for First Episode Psychosis that provides a coordinated specialty care approach to wrap around an individual who is experiencing FEP to assist them in moving towards recovery. Research indicates that early intervention, seen in a model such as New Journeys, positively alters the long-term trajectory of illnesses such as Schizophrenia. The team originally launched in 2018 and began delivering team-based treatment to individuals and families experiencing first episode psychosis with all components of this coordinated specialty care model, but with less dedicated time for many of the clinicians. It is the first program of BHI’s Clinical Services Pillar led by Allie Franklin, LICSW, and Medical Director Carolyn Brenner, MD.

Now that STEP is one of the fully-funded New Journeys programs in Washington, it will be able to support the full multidisciplinary team, including: 1) Nami Bhatt, LMHC, Program Director, who also serves as a the Family Education Specialist; 2) Ryan Juhre, MSW, Individual Resiliency Training (IRT) Specialist, who provides a CBT-informed care; 3) Kristi Dore, MHP, a Supported Employment and Education Specialist who provides coaching and support in schools and employment settings, as well as benefits counseling; 4) Christine Curry, MD, a Psychiatrist, who provides psychopharmacological treatment and education to the client and their family; and 5) Keith Johnson, a Peer Specialist with lived experience which helps go guide wellness and recovery-oriented strategies to support care. STEP is also unique in that they also have a part-time Psychologist (Jessica Maura, PhD) on their team who provides CBT for psychosis and other CBT-informed therapies, and a part-time Nurse to address cardiovascular risk and other healthcare concerns.

Since its inception, STEP has worked closely with Department faculty, including those within the Supporting Psychosis Innovation through Research, Implementation, & Training (SPIRIT) Lab and the Washington State Center of Excellence in Early Psychosis to pilot and evaluate innovations not yet implemented across the New Journeys Network. For example, Lydia Chwastiak, MD, has worked with STEP to develop and pilot a nurse manual focused on addressing cardiovascular risk and a health coach role. Maria Monroe-DeVita, PhD (along with colleagues in the UW School of Social Work, Denise Walker, PhD and Ryan Petros, PhD) has been working with the STEP team to adapt a motivational enhancement therapy (MET) intervention to address cannabis use with this population. Dror Ben-Zeev, PhD, from the BRiTE Center is also evaluating a texting intervention within the team. These interventions will then be in consideration for future implementation across the New Journeys Network, thanks to STEP’s unique role and position within the UW community.