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By Jess Macinko
News Editor 

New mental health provider opens on Main Street

 

March 29, 2017

Jess Macinko

New mental health provider opens on Main Street

Goldendale has a new mental health provider. Adventure Psychological Services, located at 125 W. Main St., offers counselling by appointment, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Fridays. Prospective clients can get a free trial consultation by phone to see if the practice is a good fit. More information is available at adventurepsychological.com.

Dr. Anson Service founded Adventure four years ago in Vancouver. An influx of clients commuting from the Gorge area prompted him to expand eastward. Adventure's Goldendale office, which opened a few weeks ago, is the growing practice's second location. Currently, office hours are limited to Fridays, but Service anticipates the location will soon offer counselling two days a week, and eventually five days a week.

Service is no stranger to the area. From 1997 to 2000, he lived in Goldendale, working as a sales manager for Columbia Homes and TLC Modular Homes. He moved away to get his degree, and has now been counselling for eight years. Service sees a parallel in sales and psychology in that both are a helping profession-requiring genuine interested in people, their needs and their backgrounds.

What's in a name?

When Service opened his practice, he wanted to start something different. He describes his methods as action-based, a take-life-by-the-horns approach to therapy. Simply put, Adventure encourages people to go out and have adventures.

"That's something most people are missing," Service says, explaining that he prefers to get clients out and about, rather than just holding sessions in office. Helping people out of self-created ruts allows them to put things in perspective and find purpose in their lives. The next step, Service says, is looking at their environment and spotting things detrimental to that purpose.

Adventure's emphasis on getting out and getting active has been successful in treating a range of problems, from obesity to gambling addiction. It is also uniquely suited to combating a new psychological threat: too much screen time. Device dependence is the number one cause of mental health issues treated by Adventure's Vancouver office. Symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, social isolation, and physical differences-especially in young men-which Service attributes to increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

"Kids aren't going outside anymore. They aren't riding bikes," he says-a lack of activity which leads to lower testosterone levels and lagging physical development.

The problem is relatively uncharted territory, made worse by a lack of awareness. "People come in with all kinds of complaints. They don't even realize what the real problem is," Service says. "It's like the wild west. Most people have no idea this is happening."

The problem is so new, there are no widely held standards for how much screen time is too much (the American Academy of Pediatrics released a series of recommendations on children's media use in 2016). Service's recommendation is one hour per day outside school or work. He says the average person under 24 spends 6 – 8 hours of their free time in front of a screen. Adults, he says, are worse offenders than kids; for people over 24, average screen time clocks in at around 9 – 10 hours.

In fact, parents may be part of the problem in children's device dependence. Screens are an attractive babysitting option, especially for "helicopter parents" obsessing over child safety, Service says. "They think, 'My kids are inside, they're not out getting into drugs or hanging out with the wrong people.' But they aren't hanging out with anybody."

Service plans to publish a book on the subject-for clinicians and parents-later this year.

Medicaid/Medicare

Currently, Medicaid/Medicare clients make up about 25 percent of Adventure's client base. Service doesn't plan to increase that percentage.

"The quickest way to go out of business is to open a practice in a small, rural town and take every Medicaid client that walks through your door," Service says. "You'll be closed within a year." For most providers, state-paid insurance means more red tape for less pay. Until lawmakers figure out how to make the programs less penalizing for doctors, Service expects low-income options to stagnate.

One of the big sticking points is that state-paid insurance doesn't allow penalty charges for no-shows. If providers open their doors to all state-paid clients, they run the risk of getting burned on clients who don't show up or cancel at the last minute.

Service has an understanding with his Medicaid/Medicare clients: miss one appointment, you get a pass. Miss two, find a different provider. It sounds harsh, but it helps keep the doors open. And it seems to work.

"So far, we've had excellent success with no shows," Service says. "We don't get them."

 

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