Focus – Clarity – Direction

Focus, clarity, and direction - CAT program objectives

When a child or adolescent is facing complex mental health issues, regular sessions with a psychiatrist or even a weeklong evaluation may not provide enough time and in-depth observation to understand the factors that are contributing to a patient’s challenge.

For some families, their child’s mental health issue has been treated unsuccessfully, despite seeking out numerous prior treatment modalities, and has exhausted all other resources and services within their community. The UNI Comprehensive Assessment Treatment (CAT) Program is an assessment program that targets this population.

Program Description

The CAT Program’s mission is Focus, Clarity, Direction. In the first phase of the program, our collaborative team will Focus on the child’s primary issues, identify the root of these issues, and work to establish clear and individualized goals for treatment.

In the second phase, Clarity is established. The child will receive a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment which will provide diagnostic clarification, identify the most effective therapy modalities for the child’s unique needs, and help to recognize the most effective interventions moving forward. This phase also includes a thorough academic assessment to help the child achieve full academic potential.

In the last phase, the child and the family is provided with Direction. We offer recommendations for the most appropriate setting for the child moving forward. Our goal is for the child to reunite with family as soon as appropriate. We collaborate with parents and educational consultants by offering tailored treatment recommendations to facilitate a smooth transition in their child’s journey toward wellness.

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Program Highlights

  • Program grounded in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Safe and secure environment ∗ Daily contact with board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists
  • Individualized and evidence-based treatment
  • Diagnostic clarification
  • Neuropsychological, psychiatric, and educational assessment
  • Teaching and practicing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skill sets
  • Individual, family, group, expressive therapies
  • ROPES course experience
  • Providing the vision for a path to wellness by gaining a holistic understanding of the individual child.

Read about our therapy methods.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment (CAT) Program?

The CAT program at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute is a clinical program designed to help gain an understanding of a youth’s mental health and behavioral issues. It is designed as a four to six-week program where a multidisciplinary team works closely to evaluate the youth, identify the accurate diagnoses, and actively treat the symptoms. We have expertise in:

  • mood disorders (depression, bipolar),
  • anxiety (OCD, GAD, tics),
  • psychosis,
  • autism spectrum disorders,
  • substance abuse, and
  • many other diagnoses.

What makes us stand out from other programs is that many of our child psychiatrists are also pediatricians and thus have a very good understanding of the interactions between medical and psychiatric illness. We can handle many medical conditions that other psychiatric facilities are not equipped to manage.

What the CAT Program is NOT

The CAT program is not a substitute for an acute inpatient psychiatric admission. While this program can help stabilize a youth and identify the underlying medical and psychiatric conditions, it cannot be done in the typical acute inpatient hospitalization of a few days duration. Often insurances will not authorize for a youth to be in a psychiatric hospital more than three to nine days. While much can be done in this timeframe, it does not lend itself to expansive diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that the CAT program is designed to do.

Who is the treatment team?

The treatment team consists of a child and adolescent psychiatrist, psychologist, pediatrician (when appropriate), social worker, nurses, school teacher, expressive therapists (music, art, and recreation therapy), psychiatric technicians, and nutritionist.

What sort of treatment will my child receive?

Each youth’s treatment plan is individualized based on their symptoms and diagnosis. We will review previous records and testing and talk with previous providers (psychiatrists, primary care doctors, therapists, and the like) to obtain a clear understanding of your child. Then, through clinical interviews, appropriate medical evaluations, observation, and further psychological testing, we will refine the diagnosis. This allows us to recommend the best treatment options we can.

Treatment will involve therapy and often can involve medication. Your child’s psychiatrist will discuss medication options with you prior to initiating any treatment. We strongly believe in only providing the best evidence-based care available.

Will my child be in school?

Academics are an important component to a youth’s life and we will evaluate and coordinate his/her academic needs. However, upon initial admission, academics are often a secondary concern given diagnostic confusion of behaviors and symptoms. The school teacher reviews the records concurrently with the treatment team, and we develop an academic plan that is instituted when the youth has stabilized to the point that academics can be productive. Depending on the individual situation, school work may be done on the unit or in some cases in the hospital’s formal classroom.

What sort of other kids will my child be exposed to?

The CAT program is housed on our acute inpatient unit. We have an individualized programing track for these youth. They will be in groups with many other youths who have a variety of psychiatric issues. There will likely be kids with worse problems, many with fewer and others with very different problems from your child. While this is often a concern we hear from parents, we feel confident that our milieu and individualized treatment program provides a very healing therapeutic environment.

What Is the Family's Involvement?

We strongly encourage the family to be very involved as it is essential to understanding the youth’s presentation and help us assess their needs. Some parents are able to come out for a few days at the start of the admission. Then we have face to face time with the treatment team before they return home.

Families have daily phone or email contact with the treatment team and family therapy sessions as clinically recommended via telephone and/or video conferencing. Sometimes, the family will then come back out for more face to face sessions or at the time of discharge.

For some families or some situations, it is not appropriate for the parents to come out with the youth. In these cases, the family will still have daily phone or email contact with the treatment team and conduct therapy sessions by telephone.

What can I do to prepare?

The more previous records you can obtain prior to admission, the better. That way we have more time to focus on reviewing them and treating your child instead of requesting previous records. Due to HIPPA laws, other facilities cannot send us records they didn’t generate – meaning even if the last placement had all of your child’s records, they can only send their own records.

Because of this we strongly encourage all parents to keep a master file with copies of all of your child’s records. This way you can quickly provide any information to the next provider with minimal hassle. When your child is discharged, we will give you a copy of our reports for your master file and send a copy to your child’s next provider.

How Much Does It Cost & What Is Covered?

The cost of our program is designed as a set daily rate that includes all common services from your treatment team (psychological testing, medications, professional fees, and the like). There are times when supplements are charged for non-standard services, such as the need for a 1:1 staffing with your child.

Also, if there are nonstandard medical tests (such as MRIs or EEGs) or medical sub-specialists that your child needs to see, we will work with your insurance to authorize these visits. The business office will be your point of contact for financial questions as we intentionally keep the treatment team focused on providing the best clinical care for your child.

Please call for questions related to billing for the CAT Program.

Why do I have to pay upfront?

Unfortunately, most insurances will not cover this sort of treatment. While we will certainly try to work with your insurance, there is no guarantee that they will pay. Quite frankly, the only way to make this program fiscally possible is to obtain payment at the time of services. If your insurance does indeed pay, you will be reimbursed the difference.

Additional Program Specialists

Tina Halliday, LCSW

Tina Halliday, LCSW is the Admissions Coordinator for the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment (UNI CAT) program in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has worked with UNI since 1999 and the CAT program since it began in 2011. Tina graduated from the University of Utah, Graduate School of Social Work with her MSW. She has practiced for 30 years in the Behavioral Health field. She has provided direct clinical care to a variety of age groups and treated a variety of mental illnesses. Tina has also worked with Employee Assistance Programing throughout much of her career. This includes clinical services, management consultation, critical incident debriefing, and wellness seminar trainings to many employer groups. She enjoys her family, friends and a variety of outdoor activities.

Chase Knaphus, LCSW

Chase Knaphus is a Clinical Social Worker for the Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment (CAT) Program at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute. He received his MSW and MPA from the University of Utah. He has been at UNI since 2010, with his first six years in the role of a psychiatric technician on our child inpatient unit, and his last year in the role of Social Worker (working with children and adolescents). Chase has also gained clinical experience through a clinical internship at Valley Behavioral Health's Children's Outpatient Services, where he provided individual and family therapy for his clients. His therapeutic orientation is based in Cognitive-Behavioral therapy and ACT therapy.

Holly Badger, TRS, CTRS

Holly Badger is the expressive therapies manager at UNI. Holly received her bachelor’s degree in recreation from the University of Utah. She is licensed and nationally certified as a therapeutic recreation specialist (TRS, CTRS). Holly has worked at UNI since 1997. She has facilitated groups with patients of all ages in both inpatient and outpatient. She has extensive experience using the UNI ROPES course with groups of patients, University students, staff, faculty, and corporate teams.

Joseph Walker, TRS, CTRS

Joe Walker is a state licensed, nationally certified therapeutic recreation specialist for the UNI CAT program. Joe graduated with his Bachelors in Arts from the University of Utah in 2012 after completing his senior internship at a residential treatment center. Joe has worked at UNI since 2012 and brings experience in leisure education and ROPES course facilitation. He loves introducing and promoting healthy, safe recreation into the lives of others. Joe enjoys spending time conquering the trails with his family.

Molly Myers

Molly Myers is a clinical dietitian at UNI. Molly attained her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics and Exercise Science at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. She completed her dietetic internship through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and will complete her Master’s degree in Dietetics in May 2018 with a focus on clinical dietetics through the distance program at UNL.

Molly has experience as a consulting dietitian for several small community hospitals and nursing homes and a clinical dietitian in a transitional care unit/nursing home facility. Her passion for dietetics lies in providing nutrition education and counseling with an emphasis in reasonable healthy lifestyle behaviors. Outside of work, Molly enjoys reading all different genres, going for long hikes, and experimenting with new recipes.

Ariel Fry, RD, CD

Ariel Fry is the clinical dietitian supervisor at UNI. Ariel completed her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and General Dietetics at California State University, Chico. She completed her dietetic internship through Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. During her internship she did her clinical rotation at Duke Raleigh Hospital, which helped grow and build her love and excitement for clinical nutrition. She went on to pursue a career as a clinical and community dietitian.

Ariel also has experience in outpatient counseling on weight management, bariatric surgery, and therapeutic diets. Her interests lay in motivational counseling for healthy lifestyle and disordered eating. Ariel is extremely passionate about helping others. When Ariel is not working she enjoys anything outdoors, adventuring with her husband and puppy, and trying to find the best doughnuts in town.

TyJha Jackson, MPH

Ty Jackson is the Outreach Specialist for the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment (UNI-CAT) Program in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, health science minor from Clemson University and a Master’s in Public Health from Westminster College. During graduate school, Ty was a part of the UNI nursing staff, working as a Psychiatric Technician on all inpatient units, as well as day treatment before her transition into outreach. Ty has lived in 8 different states, spanning from California to New York. She enjoys learning about diverse cultures, while traveling and meeting new people.

Jacob Hansen, MST

Jacob Hansen is the Education Specialist in the Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment (CAT) program at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. He is a certified secondary education teacher and has taught courses across the curriculum including history, math, the sciences, and literature. He earned his Masters of Science and Technology degree at the University of Utah. Jacob has worked with teens in the field of education for nearly ten years as a wilderness guide, a classroom teacher, and as a director of local tutoring organizations.

Jacob takes an adaptive approach to learning. He works to establish a growth mindset in each student he works with in the CAT program. He enjoys reading history and the sciences and continually fixing up his old house. He can often be found traveling around the mountains and deserts in the West.

Saran Pech-Archibeque

Saran Pech-Archibeque is the Administrative Assistant for UNI’s CAT Program. She has worked at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) since 2008. Saran has been part of the nursing staff working as a psychiatric technician on all units (adults and youth). With hard work and determination, she became the Lead Psychiatric Technician on the youth units. In addition to being the Lead Psychiatric Technician she simultaneously worked as the Health Unit Coordinator, before she transitioned to being an Administrative Assistant.

Saran has her Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a minor in Ethnic Studies from the University of Utah. She is fluent in English and Cambodian. Saran enjoys being outdoors and learning about different cultures, customs, and history. Being born in a refugee camp and having such worldly life experiences, Saran brings nine years of enriched perspective and an edification that lifts the culture around her. With such insights, she hopes to one day write a book.

Cherry Wang, RN

Cherry Wang is the Nurse Manager for two units here at University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), and is dedicated to serving the mental health needs of younger adolescents and children. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Utah and a Master of Science in Teaching from Shinshu University, Japan. Cherry has been part of UNI’s nursing staff since 2004, first working as a psych tech, then as a charge nurse, Clinical Nurse Coordinator, Nurse Educator, and Nursing Supervisor before coming to her current manager position; she is engaged in UNI’s Nursing Shared Governance Council and had served as the Chair of Clinical Practice Nursing Council.

In her time away from the hospital, Cherry is a competitive cross country skier. She won two gold medals in the Women’s 5K Skate Cross Country event in Italy. She now enjoys a variety of outdoor activities especially skiing in the mountains of Utah.

Kirsten Nelson, RN

Kirsten Nelson is the Nurse Manager responsible for UNI’s CAT unit. Kirsten joined UNI in 2014 and has worked as a clinical nurse and nurse educator for Youth Services; she received her Bachelors of Nursing and minor in nutrition from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. She is currently completing a doctorate of nursing practice degree with Gonzaga University with an expected graduation date in Spring 2019 she is also a board certified psychiatric-mental health nurse and has in-depth training in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Deedee Johnson, CSW

Dominique “Deedee” Johnson is a clinical social worker for the CAT Program at UNI. She received both her Bachelor’s in Social Work and her Masters in Social Work from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. She completed her Masters level internship at Broughton Hospital, one of North Carolina’s three regional psychiatric hospitals, working with adult, adolescent, and deaf patients. After graduate school, Deedee worked with chronically ill and terminal patients through Hospice and Palliative Care providing therapeutic support to patients and their families. Her treatment philosophy is based in a cognitive behavioral approach that includes elements of dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and relational psychotherapy.

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