Date of Conferral





Human Services


Mary E. Bold


Collaborative efforts between medical and behavioral health professionals is required to simultaneously treat individuals with medical and mental health disorders. However, there is lack of focus on the competencies and trainings needed by behavioral health clinicians (BHCs) transitioning to integrated primary care (IPC) settings. The purpose of this qualitative interpretive phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of BHCs who have transitioned from specialty outpatient behavioral healthcare settings to IPC settings. Semi-structured interview questions were used to collect data. Using interpretive phenomenological data analysis approach, themes and the shared meanings and experiences of 8 licensed BHCs were explored. Seven participants had graduate degrees and 1 participant had post-graduate degree. All participants had at least a year of experience working in IPC settings, worked full-time in North Carolina, and had over a year of experience in traditional behavioral healthcare settings. Results indicated that participants shared experiences in 5 themes: (a) clinical experience, (b) effective communication, (c) collaboration with primary care providers(PCPs), (d) continued education and trainings, and (e) care coordination. The outcome of this research will inform institutions, administrators, and credentialing boards to consider implementation of defined competencies for BHCs in community health centers that operate on IPC principles to ensure collaborative efforts between BHCs and PCPs in order to help provide effective holistic and affordable health care in a systems-based approach.