Register for a new CE program on treating people with diabetes

The American Psychological Association and American Diabetes Association partner to educate more psychologists.

By Jewel Edwards-Ashman

Psychologists looking to expand their practice by providing mental health care to people with diabetes can now register for a new program launching June 8 that will educate you on how to treat this patient population.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and APA have partnered to develop a two-part diabetes continuing education program* for psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals. The program is designed to give mental health providers the skills they need to help support people in managing their diabetes and treat co-morbid mental health issues.

Psychologists can attend an in-person course — the first part of the CE program — on June 8 in San Diego, California, at ADA’s Scientific Sessions conference. APA will also host an in-person course on Aug. 6 at its 125th Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.

In addition to receiving CE credit, psychologists and other mental health providers who successfully complete the program will be eligible for a listing in the ADA Mental Health Provider Directory.

“For anyone looking to expand their practice and anyone who is interested in chronic health, the biggest benefit would be having more referrals and having more expertise in an area that really targets a huge percent of the population now. In fact, diabetes affects almost 30 million people in the United States,” says Diana Naranjo, PhD, one of the instructors for the CE program and clinical associate professor at Stanford University.

Gain new skills and treat more people

Naranjo gained experience in broadening her health skillset early on in her psychology career. While working as a psychology intern, Naranjo unexpectedly became the so-called “diabetes person,” or clinician, so to speak. A consistent pool of referrals from other doctors who treat diabetes and her ability to speak Spanish resulted in Naranjo’s caseload filing up almost exclusively with children and families with diabetes at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Naranjo says she didn’t plan on focusing primarily on patients with diabetes, but her exposure to this population inspired her to make treating the mental health conditions associated with diabetes her niche. “During my internship, I saw how difficult it was for those families with children who have diabetes to adjust and cope, and understand the disease and all of its implications,” Naranjo says.

Now, while working as a clinical psychologist at Stanford Children’s Health she continues to treat children and teens who have type 1 diabetes, as well as some patients who have type 2 diabetes. She is one of two attending psychologists at the hospital who provide therapy and other interventions in the pediatric diabetes clinic, where children are screened for different co-morbid conditions linked to diabetes. Depression, anxiety and diabetes distress and difficulty adhering to the demanding treatment regimen are the most common diabetes-related mental health issues.

Many of the children she treats and their families travel long distances, sometimes up to five hours away from their homes, to receive treatment at Stanford’s pediatric diabetes center, which is similar to other top-ranked medical centers with large jurisdictions. At Stanford, children with diabetes have access to essential mental health care in a clinical setting to help them manage and cope with their illness. But lengthy travel times prevent them from getting this care at the frequency they may need. Naranjo says linking these patients to a mental health professional who specializes in diabetes closer to home is critical.

“It’s really hard trying to develop coping strategies and skills for a patient’s distress and trying to implement different interventions if you’re seeing someone as infrequently as four times a year,” Naranjo says.

Naranjo is just one of the psychologists who helped develop the new two-part CE program being offered by ADA and APA. She will be a presenter at both of the program’s first in-person courses happening on June 8 and Aug. 6.

She says she and the other program developers are hoping that psychologists interested in diabetes, chronic illness or health overall will take part in this program. “We’re trying to get people with diabetes more connected to regular mental health support within their communities.”

Psychologists who take part in this education program will learn how to provide mental health care services to millions of people with diabetes in the U.S.

To register for the program, visit ADA's website. More information about the course at APA’s convention in Washington, D.C., is available on APA’s website

*Continuing Education credits are sponsored by the APA Office of Continuing Education in Psychology (CEP).  The APA CEP Office has reviewed and approved the programs to offer CE credits for psychologists.  The APA CEP Office maintains responsibility for the content of the programs.