Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP)

Improving Care for Youth and Young Adults with Early Psychosis

Serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis, typically appear during adolescence and young adulthood. These conditions — which arrive with symptoms of paranoia, hallucinations, and social withdrawal — often cause tremendous suffering for youth, young adults, and their families.  These problems are compounded by an ineffective response: even when patients and families reach out for help, the healthcare system may not have the specialized training or have awareness of the range of resources to address the complexity adequately. 

With the unique needs of youth and young adults in mind, we have launched the Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) program. Research shows that early intervention significantly improves the course of the illness and results in better outcomes. Directed by Nami Bhatt, LMHC; Program Director/Family Education Specialist and Dr. Carolyn Brenner, MD: Medical Director BHI Direct Clinical Services and Outpatient Behavioral Health Services, the Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) Program team consists of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, employment/education specialists, peers and other experts, as needed. Together, they help youth and young adults get accurate diagnoses and timely and effective care allowing them and their families to have the brightest future possible. The STEP Program was formally launched in winter 2019.

The program’s ultimate goal is to offer clinical consultation to providers who care for youth and young adults with early psychosis anywhere in our region.

If you or a family member might benefit from STEP

The Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) program aims to provide you with the best, research-based treatment individualized to your personal needs and goals. We treat the whole person, not just the symptoms of psychosis, because everyone has their own road to recovery. We are here to help you make smart decisions about your health. Our team provides state-of-the-art coordinated care and is here to help you with all aspects of your life. Our program is designed to treat individuals who have recently had a first episode of psychosis, are seeking outpatient treatment and are between the ages of 15-40. STEP treats the whole person and not just the symptoms of psychosis.  Our team includes professionals trained to help you on your own road to recovery.

Our team provides state-of-the-art coordinated care and is here to help you with all aspects of your life

  • Psychotherapist: The individual therapist uses interventions that are geared toward assisting you in multiple areas of development. The strategies used are practical, easy to understand and based in proven methods supporting healthy functioning. The therapist uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis as well as Individual Resiliency Training.
  • Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who specializes in mental health evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment with medications to help clients reach their goals.
  • Nurse Educator:  A nurse specialized in behavioral health and integrated physical health who works with clients on health and wellness.
  • Supportive Employment and Education Specialist: The employment and education specialist will assist you to identify educational, work and career goals and strategies for how to achieve them.
  • Peer Support Specialist: An individual who has lived experience with mental illness and is specially trained on how to guide you through your recovery process.  Peer specialists are living proof that getting back on track in your life journey is possible.
  • Family Education Specialist: The goal of the family education specialist is to support the family with ways in which to best cope with your recent experience of psychosis.
  • Case Manager: To keep your care coordinated between professionals and on track and working towards your needs and objectives.

Getting treatment

Prior to admission to our program, we review prospective clients to make sure there is a good fit between our program and you. Please contact Maria Palero via phone (206-744-4550) to have a confidential discussion about your interest in STEP.