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Spotlight on Counseling Services

Denise Kitson, LCSW, joined the Eagleville team in January of 2015 as Director of Counseling Services. Denise brings twenty years’ expertise in leading clinical teams, most recently as Director of Inpatient Clinical Services at Park Royal Hospital, in Fort Myers, FL, where she was known for her innovative thinking and for setting high standards for herself and those around her—all with an easygoing style and sense of humor that puts patients and colleagues at ease.

Denise brings a lot to the table: a depth of experience; a curiosity about the latest advances in behavioral health; and, an unwavering empathy toward people in need. Simply stated, Denise puts patients first.

Since her arrival last January, she has remained laser-focused on creating the best possible patient experience at Eagleville Hospital. To do this, she is constantly researching, testing, and onboarding the latest, most advanced, evidence-based and inclusive practices, therapies, and curricula. She has increased campus-wide resources and implemented initiatives so that Eagleville Hospital can continue to pioneer a patient-centered approach to treating substance use and co-occurring disorders. Her presence has certainly been felt through her supervision, the myriad of programming additions, and other adjustments to Eagleville’s clinical and counseling teams and services that are already in motion.

For example, Eagleville Hospital has ramped up evening and weekend programming, as well as holistic adjunctive therapies, by adding new, or improved, services to patients—yoga and meditation, art therapy, music appreciation groups, and interactive journaling, to name a few. Other activities include physical exercise classes, such as Zumba, life-planning classes such as GED preparation, and evidence-based treatments such as gender-specific groups focusing on stress and anger management, self-esteem, and parenting and life skills. There’s also a new partnership with Nar-Anon in order to bring expanded family education programming to campus.

In addition, there are more robust patient resources available now than ever before, brought by an integrated team of Certified Peer Specialists, Certified Recovery Specialists, and Case Managers under Denise’s direction, that work together with patients to create the aftercare plans that guide the next stages in their recovery paths. To help in this effort, the Eagleville cottage has been utterly transformed into a resource center, the “PEER Center”, which includes a new computer lab complete with Skype capabilities. Staff and patients can research and connect with the right community-based treatments and other specialists that will be vital to them as they continue their lives in recovery.

Kitson says, “We want to look at the whole person, and we want our teams to not only give our patients the latest, most advanced, expert clinical and counseling care they need during their treatment at Eagleville. We want to be there for them, and help them get where they need to go—after they leave Eagleville. We want to help them thrive.”

What’s next for Denise and the counseling department? She will continue to research and test new models of treatment, introduce further staff trainings, and evaluate current Eagleville programming to maximize outcomes and effectiveness. She wants to expand gender-specific services across groups and across the campus, as well as find new creative ways to build the most collaborative and integrated clinical teams.

Kitson sums it up, “I care about our culture at Eagleville. I want our staff to be open and excited about what’s new in behavioral health. Evidence shows us that being informed and trained on issues related to gender, the LGBT community, and inter-family and inter-generational trauma, are all key to treating substance use and co-occurring disorders effectively now, and in the future. I want to contribute to the Eagleville tradition of being a destination for research, education and training. Above that, as always, I want to provide the highest possible standards of treatment for our patients. That’s what really matters.”

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