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Specific Care Clinics

The IWK Youth Psychosis Team

The IWK Youth Psychosis Team is a multidisciplinary specialty service providing clinical service, research, education and advocacy in early identification and treatment of psychotic illness in youth. The IWK Youth Psychosis Team serves youth age up until 19 years of age who are seeking help and may be at risk for or are presenting in the early stages of a primary psychotic disorder such as, schizophrenia.  The IWK team is part of the Early Psychosis Program at Dalhousie University servicing patients under 35 years of age. The team consists of psychiatry, nursing, psychology and trainees in mental health (psychiatry residents, psychology residents, nursing students). Referrals originate from any source in the Halifax Regional Municipality but also extend to consultation assessment requests from clinicians across the Maritime Provinces. Youth accepted for specialized care are followed until about age 19 and are then seamlessly transferred to the adult Early Psychosis Team for ongoing service for up to five years.

The clinical focus is on the earliest identification of illness marked by psychotic experiences, and rapid provision of treatment to enhance and foster positive outcomes. Care includes assessment, stabilization of symptoms, recovery and rehabilitation, family focused care, psychoeducation and psychotherapy. Extensive outcomes evaluations are routinely conducted ranging from metabolic/medical monitoring to assessment of quality of life and burden of care.

Research into the determinants of health for persons in the various stages of psychotic disorder as well as provision of education for patients and families are key components of the program. Parents and families of the youth attend family and patient education sessions as well as family support sessions run by clinicians and trainees.

The psychosis team routinely reaches out to schools, teen health centers, community services and other community resources to provide education sessions on psychosis and psychotic disorders. These sessions help to foster collaboration with our community partners and in turn hopes to foster better understanding of the illness, and in turn earlier identification of those in need. 

The IWK Bipolar Specific Care Clinic

The IWK Bipolar Specific Care Clinic is a multidisciplinary specialty team that services youth with severe and persistent mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder. The team provides consultative services and collaborative care to clinicians at the IWK community mental health and addictions clinics as well as to clinicians across the province for those youth who show signs of increasing severity of illness related to severe mood disorders. The clinic provides opportunity for clinical, education and research opportunities for students and residents interested in child and adolescent bipolar illness. 

The IWK Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Clinic

The IWK OCD Clinic provides specialty service to children and youth (and their families) with moderate to severe OCD. Care is multidisciplinary including psychiatry, psychology and social work (family therapy), as well as an outreach clinician to provide exposure-response prevention (cognitive behavioural therapy) treatment within the youth’s home/community. Education and support for families and the youth with OCD is a key component of treatment at the clinic. The OCD clinic also has a clinical research mandate as well as an academic focus to train psychiatry residents and other mental health trainees in the identification and effective treatment of youth with severe and persistent OCD and anxiety disorders. The team provides consultative services and collaborative care to clinicians at the IWK community mental health clinics as well as to clinicians across the Maritime Provinces for those youth who show signs of moderate to severe OCD with effort to provide a seamless transfer of care to the clinic for those in the most severe stage of this illness.  Clinical training and research opportunities in clinical assessment, and medication and psychotherapy (cognitive behavioural therapy and family therapy) treatment in child and adolescent OCD are available for interested students and residents.  

The IWK Autism Spectrum Disorders Specific Care Clinic (ASD SCC)

The IWK ASD SCC is a specialty service that is part of the IWK multi-disciplinary clinical and academic program for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders and co-morbid mental health illness. This service specializes in treating psychiatric illnesses that occur in youth with ASD. The team consists of experienced psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers with expertise in autism spectrum disorders, more specifically the mental health issues often coexisting with these disorders. The team provides second opinion diagnostic consultation to clinicians within the IWK program, but also to those across the province. The team provides ongoing multidisciplinary care for those youth and their families with severe illness and with complex presentations. Collaboration occurs with the community resources serving youth with ASD to enhance care provision/support services for youth and families with the illness. Research and academic teaching are key components of this clinic; the clinic serves as an excellent learning opportunity for students and residents who have an interest in youth with sever and complex ASD. 

The IWK Eating Disorders Team

The IWK Eating Disorders Team is a multidisciplinary specialty team that services youth identified as having moderate to severe anorexia or bulimia nervosa. The team consults and collaborates closely with colleagues in pediatrics at the IWK providing direct consultation and ongoing care for youth requiring inpatient medical care secondary to an eating disorder. The team also consults directly to the acute inpatient psychiatry unit providing collaborative and ongoing care for youth with the illness who require treatment on the acute psychiatry inpatient unit. Clinical care occurs not only with the youth (in inpatient and outpatient settings) but also directly involves immediate family members in the form of psychoeducation, support, psychotherapy and training in the integral components of evidenced based behavioral and cognitive therapy used for treatment of this illness. The evidence-based treatment approach used by the team follows the Family Based Treatment model developed at the Maudsley Institute (UK) and is consistent with care models provided by most eating disorders programs in the country and internationally. The Eating Disorders Team accepts referrals from across the Maritime Provinces and provides collaborative specialty consultation to outside services via a provincial network of clinicians who share an interest in providing evidence-based care for Nova Scotia youth with eating disorders. The mandate of the Eating Disorders Team is to provide clinical service but also education for learners and residents (psychiatry, psychology, pediatrics) as well as to community partners to enhance early identification of markers of risk for eating disorder and recognize who may require referral to the team.