Focus, clarity, and direction - CAT program objectivesFocus – Clarity – Direction

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.

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

Jonathan D. Birnkrant, MD

Jonathan Birnkrant, M.D., Assistant Professor (Clinical), earned his medical degree at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, NH.  He completed triple board training in the Brown Medical School – Rhode Island Hospital Combined residency program in Providence, RI, where he served as chief resident.  Dr. Birnkrant is board certified in Psychiatry and C... Read More


Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, Psychiatry, Child


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Elizabeth L. Botts, MD

Dr. Botts, a native of Oklahoma, completed her adult psychiatry residency training at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City, UT and child psychiatry fellowship training at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee before moving back to Utah. Dr. Botts is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Board Eligible in Child... Read More

Benjamin R. Chan, MD

Dr. Benjamin Chan currently works as an inpatient attending physician at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI). He sees a wide variety of patients with various diagnoses and ages (from 4-17 years old). Conditions that Dr. Chan treats in an inpatient setting include: depression, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (... Read More


Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Child & Adolescent, Autism, Mood Disorders


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Thomas Conover, MD

Dr. Conover is Board Certified in General Pediatrics, General Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Conover practices at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) where he provides care for psychiatrically hospitalized children and adolescents, and serves as the Medical Director for Youth Services.... Read More

Kristin Francis, MD

Dr. Kristin Francis joined UNI as a child and adolescent inpatient psychiatrist after completing medical school, residency and fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. She treats a wide range of psychiatric disorders and has special interests in treating patients who suffer from eating disorders. ... Read More

Toni M. Hesse, MD

Dr. Toni Hesse, Assistant Professor (Clinical), earned her medical degree at the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota.  She then completed  a psychiatry residency and a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship here at the University of Utah School of Medicine.  During training, Dr. Hesse conducted a pilot investigation in ... Read More


Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, Psychiatry, Child


A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Ernest Jeremy Kendrick, MD

Dr. Jeremy Kendrick recently joined the University faculty after completing residency in Pediatrics and a combined residency/fellowship in Adult, Child, and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Kendrick currently practices inpatient psychiatry at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute where he works with children and adolescents. As a Pediatrician as we... Read More

Allison Nitsche Leahy, MPH, MD

Dr. Allison Nitsche, a native of New Orleans, completed her adult psychiatry residency training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and child psychiatry and community psychiatry fellowship training at Emory University in Atlanta before moving to Utah in 2010. In Atlanta, she also received her Master of Public Health degree with a focus on Heal... Read More

Matthew Pierson, MD

Dr. Matthew Pierson is an Assistant Professor (Clinical) of Psychiatry at the University of Utah, where he is active in several clinical services.  He is a child and adolescent inpatient psychiatrist at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI).  Here he treats hospitalized youth, ages 4-17, with a variety of psychiatric conditions.  ... Read More

Mary Steinmann, MD

Dr. Steinmann is an inpatient child and adolescent psychiatrist board-certified in pediatrics, adult psychiatry, and child psychiatry. She has a special interest in children and families struggling with chronic comorbid medical and mental illness, and the impact of chronic illness on sibling relationships and family dynamics. She also has a stro... Read More

Amy L. Wilson, MD

Dr. Amy Wilson is a child and adolescent inpatient hospitalist at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI).... Read More


Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health, Psychiatry, Child


A location has not yet been added by this physician.


Psychiatry, Child


A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Tina Halliday, LCSW

Tina Halliday, LCSW, is the admissions coordinator for University of Utah Health's 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.

Scott Sonntag, LCSW

Scott Sonntag is a licensed clinical social worker and the program specialist for University of Utah Health's Neuropsychiatric Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment (UNI CAT) Program in Salt Lake City, Utah. Scott has worked at UNI for over 11 years in various roles. In addition, Scott has worked as a social worker at the Carmen B. Pingree School for Children with Autism. He also has worked at the University of Utah Counseling Center where he provided individual, couple, and group therapy for students. During his time there he implemented an Autism Group on campus and provided outreach for International Students.

Scott takes a behavioral approach to therapy and is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) informed, but adheres to acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) as his preferred approach. Scott is also currently pursuing an education at the University of Utah in a dual master's program in public administration and health care administration.

Scott has many interests but his passion is waterskiing and wakeboarding. His second home is Lake Powell. 

Rachelle Wilson, RN

Rachelle Wilson is the nurse manager of University of Utah Health's Neuropsychiatric Institute’s (UNI) Youth Services for inpatient care and is responsible for the management and coordination of nursing care for UNI’s Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment (UNI-CAT) Program. Ms. Wilson holds a master’s degree in the science of nursing with a focus on leadership and management; she is also is a board certified psychiatric nurse.

She has worked in the CAT program from its beginning in 2011. She has over 20 years of psychiatric nursing experience and is passionate about child and adolescent psychiatric nursing care. Ms. Wilson’s professional mission and purpose is to provide leadership and direction to direct care providers following evidence based best practice standards to ensure an exceptional patient experience.  

Ms. Wilson is a native to the Salt Lake Valley and appreciates all the activities this exquisite mountain setting has to offer.

John Webb, CTRS, CHMC

John Webb is the expressive therapies manager at University of Utah Health's Neuropsychiatric Institute. John received his bachelor’s degree in recreation and master's degree in clinical counseling. He is licensed and nationally certified as a therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS TRS) and licensed in Utah as a clinical mental health counselor (CHMC).  

John has over 20 year of experience working with adolescents in a verity of settings including: wilderness, residential treatment, and hospitals. He is the father of four sons. John and his wife enjoy spending time with their family in the mountains and on their small farm.

Joe Walker, TRS, CTRS

Joseph Walker is a state licensed, nationally certified therapeutic recreation specialist for the UNI CAT program. Joe graduated with his bachelor's 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.

McKenna Miller

McKenna Miller is a creative arts therapist working in the expressive therapies department at University Neuropsychiatric Institute. McKenna's degree and certifications are within the music therapy techniques. She works with the UNI CAT program inpatients once a week facilitating a music therapy group focused on DBT skills, self-expression, leadership skills, and positive self-concept.

McKenna completed her bachelor’s degree at Utah State University in 2012 and then completed an internship in Tallahassee, Florida. McKenna has worked at UNI for one year and worked with CAT patients since being hired at UNI. McKenna enjoys sewing, reading, movies, and spending time with those who matter most. She holds the philosophy that cultivating a feeling of hope through her use of music through therapeutic intention is the goal in life and in her work with inpatient youth here at UNI.

Dakota Allstadt, RD, CD

Dakota Allstadt is the primary clinical dietitian at UNI. Dakota completed her bachelor's of science in nutrition at Simmons College in Boston, MA, with a minor in psychology. She completed her dietetic internship through the California State University of Sacramento and went on to pursue a career as a clinical dietitian in a low socio-economic community hospital of Vallejo, CA.

Dakota also has experience in outpatient counseling on weight management and therapeutic diets. Her interests lay in motivational counseling for healthy lifestyle and disordered eating. Dakota enjoys outdoor activities, especially skiing, in the Utah wilderness.

Amanda Speer

Amanda Speer, LCSW

Amanda Speer is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) since 2001. A Salt Lake City native, she completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Utah.

Amanda works with appropriate CAT Program patients through equine therapy, where people and horses come together to improve personal insight and potential for growth. Whether she is in the office or in the barn, Amanda considers herself privileged to be a part of the change journey her patients and their families set out on.

Amanda’s main role at UNI is program manager of the Recovery Works Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program. She has worked in the fields of addiction and mental health since 1997. Before coming to UNI, she enjoyed working with residential, crisis, and criminal justice populations. 

TyJha Corbin, MPH

TyJha Corbin is the outreach specialist for University of Utah Health's 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 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 eight different states, spanning California to New York. She enjoys learning about diverse cultures, while traveling and meeting new people.

University Neuropsychiatric Institute 501 Chipeta Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108