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09.27.21

A Day in the Life of Deepti Kumra, Behavioral Treatment Services

Riverside Behavioral Treatment Services (BTS) deploys mobile teams consisting of licensed mental health clinicians, behavioral analysts, and psychiatric nurse practitioners to provide consultation and treatment to individuals with complex needs. Clients have significant intellectual or developmental disabilities or brain injury and are also experiencing a diagnosed mental illness or behavioral challenges. Deepti Kumra is one of these clinicians and recently took a few moments to give us a glimpse into her day…

Diving right in

I’m on my way this morning to see one of my clients, who has an intellectual disability and has also struggled a lot with social anxiety.  But he’s ready now to make personal connections outside his immediate family and wants to form meaningful relationships – and perhaps even find a partner. Today I’ll see four clients, all in person.  I average 3-5 clients a day, depending on the distance I need to drive.  This is a welcome change from the past year when we were on zoom all the time. We made the best of it and fortunately did get to keep in touch and make progress, but it was tough – we serve adults with severe developmental disabilities, so interacting remotely is something that can trigger anxiety.  I’m glad to be seeing people in person again and witnessing their progress in real-time.`

A typical session – if there is one!

Most of my work consists of teaching concrete coping skills to reduce anxiety and improve social skills, and also making sure that my clients are safe in the community. Techniques that can help are mindfulness-based interventions like active visualization – perhaps imagining a serene setting engaging all five senses, to calm extreme anxiety.  And DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) helps with social skills and interpersonal effectiveness by raising a client’s self-esteem and confidence.  Later today, I have a monthly check-in with a family as well as a Department of Developmental Services coordinator for a client I see regularly. It’s really important to keep the communication flowing with anyone who plays an important role in the client’s life.

Empowering the client

An important part of my work is teaching clients how to truly advocate for their needs, in a way that they are heard.  I keep this in mind as I approach each of my sessions.  The goal is for people I see to be able to independently voice their needs and make healthy decisions.  What do they need to succeed right now?  How can I help them get there?

Challenges to overcome

At the moment, socializing – especially dating – is a challenge for a few of the people I’m seeing. Clients often struggle with relationships, and guardians and families sometimes need some help understanding that their loved one craves intimate connections with someone, the same as all humans do.

Celebrating success on any scale

When I see my clients develop their own voice and the power to make decisions, it gives me immense satisfaction!  To see them take this new confidence out into real-life situations – mastering activities of daily living, getting a job, conquering their anxiety around cooking or other tasks – that’s simply amazing!  These basic activities that a lot of us take for granted are not as easy as they seem.  I love small or big successes. One of my clients registered to receive the COVID vaccine independently, and I was over the moon!

Bringing it back home

I have a relaxation ritual at the end of the day where I tidy up my home, put all work-related papers out of sight, and watch TV while eating a healthy snack like fruit to restore my energy. I also play tennis a few times a week – I find that exercise is very helpful.  To be honest, another way I decompress, believe it or not, is in staff meetings! When I’m struggling with a case or have a story to tell, it’s great to be able to share it with people on the team who also have a passion for this work, and get their support and feedback. I find that is a big boost to my morale and outlook, and it empowers me the same way I try to empower my clients!

 

Riverside’s mobile behavioral treatment teams provide consultation and treatment to individuals who have intellectual or developmental disabilities or brain injury and are also experiencing a diagnosed mental illness or behavioral challenges. Referrals are made through an individual’s Service Coordinator at their Department of Developmental Services (DDS) area office.  For more information, visit Riverside Behavioral Treatment Services

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