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Behavioral Health Integration Expert Mary Talen, PhD, to Speak at the STFM Conference on Practice Improvement

September 14, 2014—Behavioral health integration expert Mary Talen, PhD, will advise primary care practices on how to integrate behavioral health during the general session on Sunday, December 7, at the Conference on Practice Improvement in Tampa, FL.

Dr Talen warns that primary care practices that are slow to integrate behavioral health miss the opportunity to: (1) provide point of care access for patients for behavioral health interventions, (2) build collaborative teams to deliver biopsychosocial care, and (3) provide patients with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse screenings and brief interventions.

“Practices that are starting to integrate behavioral health services should take their time and learn about each other’s work. Practices should promote job shadowing to overcome the biggest hurdle: preconceptions of other health care providers,” said Dr Talen.

She added that integrating behavioral health into a practice must happen at three levels: macro, meso, and micro. An example of macro integration would be advocates using research from integrated practices to inform health care legislators and policy makers on health care reform. Integration at the meso level would be team-based care initiatives. A micro integration happens directly with the patient in an office visit.

Dr Talen didn’t plan to be a behavioral health integration expert. “I stumbled into this field and didn't realize what I was walking into until it was too late, and I was hooked. In 1992, the Kellogg Foundation provided funding to medical schools to build community-based health care, and I was assigned to the project. I was so lucky to work with a team of family physicians, nurse practitioners, psychologists, and community advocates to build a PCMH-type health care center from the bottom up. My early career experience with that team shaped my vision and the direction of my career.”

Dr Talen serves as the director of Primary Care Behavioral Health Education at Northwestern University’s Family Medicine Residency Program in Chicago, IL. Her experience includes training medical residents, nurse practitioners, and psychology interns in behavioral health and multi-professional health care. She has published and presented at national and international conferences in primary care psychology and collaborative behavioral health. She has most recently co-edited a book, Integrated Behavioral Health in Primary Care.

For more information about the Conference on Practice Improvement, visit

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