Working with Clients with Emerging Serious Mental Illness



ONLINE COURSE | Instructor: Lisa Youngling Howard, M.D.
CEs: 1.5 | Level: Intermediate

Date of original webinar: December 2, 2020, noon - 1:30 p.m. ET

Young adults with emerging symptoms of psychosis need a great deal of support as they struggle to make meaning of this experience and integrate their mental illness into their identity. Clients who are able to navigate this psychological process are better able to engage in treatment relationships and have an improved prognosis.

This course offers an opportunity to learn more about the treatment of young adults who are struggling with an emerging mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia. We will begin by describing the fundamentals of diagnostic assessment for clients who are first presenting with symptoms of mania or psychosis. We will also review the basics of pharmacologic treatments for these disorders, including indications and side effects. The course will then move into a discussion of the therapeutic work with clients as they navigate their illness. We will explore the advantages and disadvantages of a diagnosis, how to talk with clients about their psychotic symptoms and develop a shared vocabulary around them, how to navigate feelings of shame and stigma related to having a mental illness and how to work with clients to support them in the often frustrating process of medication treatment.

Target Audience: 

Social workers and other social service providers.

Course Delivery Method and Format:

Recorded webinar, self study. All courses are hosted on SmithOnline. Login information will be emailed immediately after registration to the email address entered during registration.

System Requirements:

Attendees will need access to a computer with internet and the capability to play recorded videos.

Registration Fee and Deadline:

$35 (one time registration fee of $5) | Ongoing 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the diagnostic assessment and differential diagnosis of psychotic symptoms
  2. List three different medications used in the treatment of serious mental illness, their indications and side effects
  3. Identify three psychotherapeutic challenges related to treatment adherence. 


  1. Diagnostic Evaluation
    1. How to assess psychosis
    2. DSM 5 criteria
    3. Particular aspects of diagnosis in young adults
  2. Psychopharmacologic Treatments
    1. Mood stabilizers- Lithium, Lamotrigine, other anti-convulsants
      1. Indications, side effects
    2. Anti-psychotic medications
      1. Indications, side effects
    3. Other treatments
      1. Indications, side effects
  3. Psychotherapeutic Treatment
    1. Developing a shared vocabulary for psychotic symptoms
    2. Meanings of Diagnosis
      1. Advantages and disadvantages of diagnosis
      2. Shame and stigma related to diagnosis
      3. Diagnosis and identity
    3. Navigating treatment
      1. Ambivalent feelings about medication
      2. Exploring the meaning of medication treatment

Instructor Biography:

Dr. Lisa Youngling Howard is a board-certified psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience as a therapist and psychopharmacologist. Youngling Howard earned her B.A. from Swarthmore College and her M.D. from Cornell Medical College before completing her psychiatry residency at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School. She works as the supervising psychiatrist at Smith College Counseling Services and also works at Gould Farm, a residential treatment program for people with serious and persistent mental illness. Youngling Howard specializes in the treatment of young adults and has a particular interest in emerging mental illness.

Completion Requirements for Recorded webinars and online courses.

To receive a CE certificate, you must complete the entirety of the recorded webinar or recorded video presentation. Partial credit will not be awarded to those who attend only a portion of the class. For recorded webinars and online courses, participants must complete an evaluation and a post test, noting the length of time to complete the course. Participants must earn a minimum score of 80 percent on the post test in order to earn CEs. Retesting is allowed up to five (5) times. If a passing score is not achieved, CEs will not be awarded. Links to the evaluation and post test are available in SmithOnline. Participants must also complete an attestation of completion for each fully completed course. A copy of the attestation is available in SmithOnline. It is attendee’s responsibility to contact their state licensing board/certification boards to determine eligibility to meet continuing education requirements.

How Will a CE Certificate Be Awarded?

Upon completing the course evaluation and successfully passing the post test, participants will be emailed their online certificate​ within 30 days of course completion​. ​Participants should save and/or print ​the certificate upon receipt for ​their records. Receiving the CE certificate is contingent on submitting attestion, completion of the evaluation and passing the post test.

Continuing Education Credits and Accreditation

Social Work CE Credit: The Smith College School for Social Work, provider #1755, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. The Smith College School for Social Work maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 11/19/2020-11/19-2021. Social workers completing this course receive 1.5 continuing education credits. 

The Smith College School for Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is therefore authorized to provide CEs as a postsecondary institution accredited by CSWE in many states. Courses offered through the School's Program of Professional Education are awarded continuing education credits in accordance with Continuing Education Regulation 258, CMR, 31.00 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Smith College School for Social Work, Office of Professional Education SW OPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0169. If outside these states, please contact your licensing board for accreditation information regarding your state. Association of Social Work Boards database of social work licensure requirements.

Psychology CE Credit: Co-sponsored training events for psychology CE credit with Smith College School for Social Work. Amego Prepare​ is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Amego Prepare maintains responsibility for this program and its content. Due to changes in continuing education requirements for NY licensed psychologists, APA CE Sponsor credits may not be accepted for re-licensure at this time. Please check the NY Psychology Board regulations for CE requirements currently in effect.