Pictured above: Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam, front left, and Dr. Allison Crawford, front right, take part in an ECHO. ECHOs connect mental health experts in the Toronto hub with primary care providers in spoke locations across Ontario.
Primary care providers across the province are better able to build a psychotherapy-informed practice, thanks to CAMH’s newest ECHO.
Launched in mid-October and led by Drs. Shelly McMain and Allison Crawford, ECHO Ontario Psychotherapy builds on the success of our previous ECHOs. Through weekly video conferencing using a collaborative hub-and-spoke model, the project connects experts in Toronto — the hub — with primary care providers in remote areas across the province to share knowledge, expand clinical skills and capacity, and improve care for people with mental illness.
“The main hope I have for this ECHO is that participants – family physicians, nurses, social workers and mental health counsellors – have a little bit more in their arsenal for managing really complex clients,” says Dr. Tali Boritz, a hub member and psychologist in CAMH’s Borderline Personality Disorder Clinic.
“It’s meant to help them integrate psychotherapy principles, structures and theoretical understanding and skills into their practice so they can think from a therapeutic mindset.”
ECHO Ontario Psychotherapy’s first cycle includes 20 weekly sessions focused on two evidence-based therapies, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Each session consists of a didactic presentation followed by case-based learning, in which a participating clinician presents an anonymized case to both hub and spoke participants for discussion and treatment recommendations. There are 43 primary care providers from 35 organizations and 12 LHINs registered to participate.
“I’m really hoping to gain a better understanding of the psychotherapy process and be able to gain skills to incorporate into my practice,” explains Dr. Jillian Toogood, an ECHO spoke participant and a physician with the East Elgin Family Health Team in Elgin County. “If I’m sending people for full-on DBT, this will help me have a reasonable discussion about what it’s all about and what they might expect to gain from it.”
She pointed to the ECHO’s collaborative model – the spokes as well as the hub – as a great way to test ideas and discuss solutions to complex cases.
“It’s definitely interesting to learn from such a wide group; everyone brings their own background to the table,” she says.
ECHO Ontario Mental Health, the umbrella ECHO at CAMH, is led by Co-Chairs Dr. Allison Crawford, Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam and Linda Mohri, with Director Eva Serhal. ECHO Ontario Psychotherapy is thought to be the first time in the world the ECHO model has been used for psychotherapy education.
“What surprised us is how well the model works in this context – how well it brings the community of practice together, how well people are able to synthesize our knowledge and support their colleagues,” says Dr. Crawford. “The ECHO model really supports and empowers people. Participants are supported within the community but also empowered to generalize that knowledge to their own practice. It’s a great cycle of support, empowerment and skills building.”
The ECHO is part of the larger provincial Project ECHO Ontario Mental Health at CAMH and UofT.
In May 2018, CAMH’s ECHO Ontario Trans and Gender Diverse Healthcare began helping primary care providers across Ontario better care for their patients. In March, ECHO combined technology with traditional Indigenous healing and knowledge to improve holistic care for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people across Ontario.
In early 2019, ECHO Ontario Mental Health will launch ECHO Ontario Advanced Practice to support primary care providers with managing and treating complex, multi-morbid patients. Other CAMH ECHOs include Addiction Medicine and Psychosocial Interventions; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; and general Mental Health.
For more information, visit ECHO Ontario's website.