When behavioral health professionals, leaders, and organizations make considered decisions, we do so using observation, evaluation, and planning. Since we are often called upon in our roles to make these considered decisions, it’s critical they come from an objective, unbiased, and informed place—never from fear or ignorance. This is the fundamental intention of clinical assessment, and this vision underlies every aspect of our organization.
CHRISTINA RENÉE LAVAIL, FOUNDING DIRECTOR
After thirteen years in the legal field, Renée’s talent and interest in working directly with people eventually drew her to pivot to a career in behavioral health. After completing her Master’s Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy, she devoted another thirteen years to a leading behavioral health agency, going from intern, to therapist, to supervisor, and eventually to Clinical Director.
As a therapist and supervisor, Renée eventually began to focus on treating youth with problematic sexual behaviors. This Multi-Systemic Therapy was intensive, evidence-based, and involved the entire system impacted by the behavior. Some important take-aways from this experience are that:
- Our society does not acknowledge the importance of science-informed sexual education, and the necessity to educate our children about their bodies.
- Professionals such as therapists, probation officers, teachers, and judges often make decisions concerning sexually related behavior based on limited training and personal experience—not scientific data.
- The public, even professionals, have a tendency to react more fearfully toward acts that are sexual in nature, compared to other types of aggressive or harmful behavior.
“The clinical information we were able to provide invariably met with excitement and gratitude or absolute disregard. The need for social change and my desire to promote sexual education became crystal clear.”
When Renée was promoted to clinical supervisor she had another pivotal realization. “I felt a sense of being woefully unprepared. The skills I had developed as a clinician were not the same skills that I needed to supervise other therapists. I needed to be able to provide clinical, ethical and professional guidance on a daily basis. I found areas that I lacked training in and had to seek out resources and answers. Luckily, the program I administered provided ongoing consultation and I regained my bearings and my confidence. This experience had a lasting impact—that clinical supervision is a specialization that requires as much special training and mentorship as we provide to new clinicians.”
The need for behavioral health professionals at all levels, from interns to owners is greater than ever, and their success is critical to the health and wellbeing of our communities. Renée established the Clinical Assessment Group in 2016 to provide behavioral health professionals with the resources they need to be ethical, successful, and sustainable in their careers. The Clinical Assessment Group consists of therapists, supervisors, and behavioral health leaders who have years in the deep end of this type of work, and want to make navigating those complexities a little easier.
Clinical Assessment Group has since established the Clinical Supervision Academy, Albuquerque Sex Therapy, and New Mexico Sexual Health. Each of these organizations focus on support, mentorship, and training from informed, objective, and unbiased perspectives, and are dedicated to leading from knowledge, never from fear.