By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
With mental health issues on the rise, Sierra Tucson Group is carrying its long-standing legacy of clinical and medical expertise to the Valley.
Sierra at Scottsdale Outpatient Care at 8035 N. 85th Way brings hope, according to Monica Clayborn, the regional director of outpatient services.
“Life and treatment can exist in unison, and there is no better place to do that than Sierra at Scottsdale,” Clayborn says.
The strictly outpatient clinic serves adults ages 18 and older who have been struggling with anxiety, bipolar disorder, mood disorders, depression and other mental health concerns, along with those who have co-occurring substance use disorders.
The Tucson location has all levels of care: a subacute inpatient hospital, residential treatment center and the brand’s first outpatient center that opened in 2019.
“Outpatient is relatively new for Sierra Tucson,” she says. “The goal is to expand the Sierra Tucson model to other cities. The residents come from around the world; that’s why we’re expanding to other cities.”
The Scottsdale clinic’s core beliefs mirror the Sierra Tucson model of treatment, which calls for a holistic view of care — not just the symptoms but the underlying concerns with Western and Eastern modalities.
“Sometimes we get clients who have successfully completed the program and they have identified early on that they’re in the spiraling process, and they reach out to someone to get back on track,” Clayborn says.
“They come back for maintenance, which is important, too.”
Adults who receive outpatient treatment at Sierra at Scottsdale participate in a variety of evidence-based, research-backed therapeutic interventions provided by behavioral health experts.
Each client receives a personalized care plan that reflects their current medical needs and short- and long-term goals. The average length of stay in outpatient programs depends on the progress each individual makes throughout the course of treatment.
Sierra at Scottsdale offers partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs.
Clients in the partial hospitalization program participate in programming from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays to Friday, with lunch provided.
The average stay is two to three weeks, with treatments like medication management services, daily group therapy, weekly individual therapy, weekly experiential therapy and family therapy, if requested.
The intensive outpatient program is 9 a.m. to noon Mondays to Thursdays, with an average stay of four to six weeks.
Intensive outpatient programming includes individual therapy session every other week, along with three hours of group therapy daily. Clients can enter either level directly or as a step down from a higher level of care.
Depending on patients’ needs, they may receive care at one or both levels.
“Partial hospitalization programming is a more structured environment and provides more support than the intensive hospitalization programming,” Clayborn says.
“It’s like a pyramid setup. At the very top of the pyramid is where you have your more intensive level of care — inpatient or residential treatment center.
“The step down is partial hospitalization programming, intensive outpatient programming and then outpatient traditional therapy and community support systems. You start at the top with the most intense programming for those needing the most support.”
Sierra Tucson and Sierra at Scottsdale offer free assessment and take out-of-network insurance, as they’re not in network yet.
Clayborn describes Sierra Tucson’s clients as primarily from the United States, but there is a relationship with the United Kingdom.
“Sometimes Sierra Tucson clients, who come from all over, don’t want to go home just yet,” Clayborn says.
“They step down and stay at the Tucson outpatient clinic, as opposed to going home for continued support. It’s nice that we were able to open the doors to other outpatient centers and offer different outpatient treatment options in other cities.”
Sierra Tucson’s reputation preceded itself. Clayborn says the organization is focused on innovation and seeks ways to incorporate effective and new treatment modalities for clients.
“We’re not set in our ways,” she says. “If there are new services we want to add, we can and we stick with it. We’re always looking for new treatment modalities for clients. It’s important to always be innovative.”
Clayborn adds that Chief Executive Officer Dr. Valerie M. Kading has seen an uptick in maternal mental health, eating disorders and trauma.
“More than ever, Sierra Tucson is committed to our Arizona community and the mental health and substance abuse challenges we have faced from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kading says.
She is looking to expand maternal mental health services to all of its outpatient centers.
“We definitely see a huge need for that,” Clayborn says.