CASA’s Community Geographic Team (CGT), which we spotlighted in March of last year, provides education, training, and coaching services to mental health professionals in the rural regions of Northern and East Central Alberta.

One of the ways in which they do this is providing monthly “Community of Practice” meetings. A Community of Practice is a group of people who share the same profession or specialty, and who come together to discuss and share information amongst themselves. Communities of Practice also act as support groups for members to solicit guidance or general help regarding an issue they’re encountering.

CGT Consultant Dr. Beena Thomas has been running her Community of Practice groups on Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and Emotional Regulation since 2017, having recently brought in consultant Stephanie Parent-Chandler to co-facilitate. Thomas, a Registered Psychologist, specialises in DBT –is a mode of therapy commonly used to treat teens struggling with dysregulated emotions and behaviours, often in addition to suicidal thoughts. Community of Practice meetings are open to all AHS clinicians in the Northern and East Central zones that have participated in CGT’s two-part training in DBT.

AHS mental health clinicians from communities such as Peace River, Grande Prairie, Slave Lake, Valleyview, and High Prairie currently participate in the meetings, which are held monthly via video conference.

“[The meetings] provide a space for the clinicians to share clinical cases so they can get direct consultation in using DBT, both from myself and their peers,” says Thomas. “It also provides a place to problem-solve as a team.”

If you are a mental health clinician in a rural community within the Northern or East Central zones and are interested in receiving the DBT training, please contact CGT program manager Dr. Lynn Davis at ldavis@casaservices.org.

The opening of the program has enhanced the continuum of care within the Edmonton zone for early intervention and preschool mental health. It is also building capacity with increased opportunities for training and research. Staff from PKP will be presenting at the Edmonton Public Schools conference for Early Childhood Educators. As a community resource, PKP invites fellow professionals to attend the program to see it in action and engage in mutual reflection and learning about ways to meet the needs of children. CASA is excited to continue to work with our community partners. This hopefully will include the new research chair.

The creation of the Pre-Kindergarten Day Program is part of CASA’S ongoing commitment to offer the right amount of care, in the right way to families, at the right point in time. CASA is excited to continue working with community partners.