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NIATx: Promising Practices to Increase Engagement in Treatment

Maureen Fitzgerald
Great Lakes ATTC/NIATx

NIATx Principle 1, "Understand and Involve the Customer," comes alive when a change team conducts a walk-through of their agency or one of its processes.  For many change teams, the first walk-through focuses on the customer's first contact with the agency: the intake and admission processes.

A walk-through of first contact can start with a member of the change team can pose as a customer calling the agency for information.  This simple activity can uncover previously unnoticed barriers:

  • an out-of-service phone line
  • an endless loop of voicemail prompts
  • a grumpy phone receptionist 
The walk-through can also bring attention to the agency's physical environment. 
  • Is the entrance marked?
  • Are clients welcomed by a friendly staff person or a uniformed security guard?
  • Is the waiting area comfortable and inviting? 
Waiting area, Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center
A welcoming environment that reflects clients' cultures and interests can have a big impact on engagement in treatment. Mark Sanders, LCSW, CACD, cites Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center in Chicago as a great example of an agency that's committed to creating a welcoming environment, as part of a strategy to improve engagement for all of its clients, but in particular for African Americans seeking treatment. Mark recently interviewed Dan Hostetler, executive director of Above and Beyond, for more insights on this agency's commitment to its diverse client population. Read the full story here

Mark will discuss the importance of the agency environment and other strategies to engage African American clients in treatment in the upcoming Great Lakes ATTC webinar:
Engaging African Americans in Substance Use Disorder Treatment
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
11:00am CST
The webinar will be recorded and available for viewing on the Great Lakes ATTC website after the live event. 

Read about other NIATx Promising Practices 

Has your agency conducted a walk-through of one of your processes? What did you discover? Share your story in the comments section below. 
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The opinions expressed herein are the views of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), SAMHSA, CSAT or the ATTC Network. No official support or endorsement of DHHS, SAMHSA, or CSAT for the opinions of authors presented in this e-publication is intended or should be inferred.