January 1st, 2016

Top workplaces’ list includes mental health agencies

Commonwealth Psychology Associates LLC was named one of the “Top Places to Work,” by The Boston Globe for the past two years. The distinction is based on confidential surveys filled out by employees that are assessed by Workplace Dynamics of Exton, Penn., an independent third party that specializes in employee engagement and retention.

In all, 357 companies, divided into four groups by size, completed the questionnaire with input collected from 77,000 employees. The participants responded to two dozen statements related to their work experiences.

Andrea Piatt, Ph.D., ABPP, who founded the practice in 2004, attributes employee satisfaction to the fact that clear directions are given, innovation is encouraged and personnel feel highly valued.

Those factors, along with pay and benefits, an eye toward work/life balance and job satisfaction make the difference. “You can see us all walk our talk here,” Piatt said.

Commonwealth Psychology Associates has offices in Newton, Mass., as well as the Back Bay and Financial District sections of Boston. Of the 63 total employees, 35 are doctoral level clinical staff and include adult and child psychologists, psychiatrists, and neuropsychologists, who provide counseling, testing, evaluations and more all under the same roof.

Piatt said the business is unique because of its full-service, multi-specialty approach. A neuropsychologist, she started bringing in other providers to handle the medication end of things and the collaborative setup grew from there.

The practitioners use a “team model,” to help patients with anxiety and panic disorders, depression, divorce/conflict, life and career coaching, learning disabilities and other issues. Services include cognitive behavioral therapy, neuropsychological testing, biofeedback and more.

“We function in teams and have meetings where all the specialties get together to work out the best care (for patients) and it’s important having all that support and input readily available,” Piatt said. “Everyone is equal. All disciplines are equal.”

“Our clients can get access to other services they need and not have to be sent out for them. That’s been very effective,” she added.

In addition to Commonwealth, a behavioral non-profit called Institute for Health and Recovery in Cambridge, Mass. also made the list. The organization is described as a “service, research, policy and development agency” on its Web site.

It works to assist individuals with alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse issues, violence and trauma, HIV/AIDS and mental health problems.

Katharine Thomas, assistant director at IHR believes the organization earned its status because of an agency culture that values both a nurturing and supportive environment in addition to the quality services it provides.

IHR currently has 79 employees, 30 of whom are direct care clinicians. They, along with training and capacity building staff have a range of degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

Services are provided in the home or community and at clinic sites in Cambridge, Boston, Lowell, Fall River and Springfield.

Bilingual staff is available and a client’s cultural identity, circumstances, needs and age are taken into consideration, she said.

She said that client services have a focus on recovery and that everyone involved strives to give “integrated, relational, family-centered, trauma-informed, culturally competent, non-judgmental” care.

“IHR is unique in both the family-focused nature of our services, reflecting our commitment to a relational approach to behavioral health treatment and in how we actually provide treatment in homes, schools and communities,” Thomas said.

“We are also unique in our use of a substance abuse lens; many behavioral health providers see and treat mental health issues but we know there is often also co-occurring substance use in families and strive to gently uncover and treat it while working with our clients,” she noted.

Thomas added that IHR’s founder and executive director Norma Finkelstein, Ph.D., has been a national leader and pioneer in policy and service development for issues around substance use disorder, COD prevention and treatment and family-centered trauma care.

By Susan Gonsalves

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