Clinical Skills Needed

Psychologist and other mental health providers in SNFs need strong assessment skills, intervention skills, consultation and interdisciplinary team building skills, and multicultural and ethical skills. In addition, they need to be flexible, adaptable, creative, and team oriented.

Assessment: Assessment skills essential in SNFs include: clinical interviewing; behavioral observation; use of appropriate self-report measures; integration of interdisciplinary assessments, such as chart review and collateral interviews; cognitive assessment; and risk assessment (e.g., suicidality).

Intervention: Relevant intervention skills in SNFs include individual, family and group psychotherapy for diverse diagnoses and presenting problems; adaptation and integration of various treatment modalities and interventions (such as behavioral, cognitive, interpersonal, problem-solving, acceptance and commitment, mindfulness, affect regulation therapy, and motivational interviewing approaches, etc.); health promotion and support with treatment compliance; behavioral management; multicultural awareness; and commitment to ethical practice.

Interdisciplinary consultation and support: Imperative consultation in SNFs includes communication with varying professionals and disciplines, staff education and training, participation in interdisciplinary teams; and program development and support.

Other Characteristics Needed:

In addition to strong and specialized clinical skills focused on geropsychology and behavioral health/rehabilitation expertise, behavioral health specialists in long-term care settings need a number of other strengths and skill sets to successfully integrate behavioral health care services in the SNF setting:

Flexibility: Nursing home environments are fast paced, interdisciplinary, and dynamic. Schedules and patient availability change daily and throughout the day. Effective service delivery in SNFs requires clinicians to be self-directive, adaptable, and demonstrate strong problem solving, organizational, and time management skills.

Team Player/IDT Skills: Nursing homes are interdisciplinary environments. Clinicians need strong interpersonal and communication skills to best support the treatment team members as well as the patient. Clinicians need to be able to communicate efficiently in formal and informal staff encounters, be empathic towards staff, and motivate people in positive and encouraging ways to support best patient care practices. Psychologists need to have appropriate boundaries and high respect for other disciplines. Psychologists need to understand the limitations of the setting they work and creatively determine appropriate and realistic interventions for all parties involved.