Behavioral Health


Options for Independence began child psychiatry services through a collaboration with Tulane University and Dr. Akanksha Thakur in November 2016. Dr. Thakur is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Tulane University and provides thorough evaluations and follow-up medication management appointments to agency participants on Tuesdays. Options for Independence is thrilled to have Dr. Thakur as she allows the area to have reduced wait times for psychiatric services for youth. Dr. Thakur graduated from Tulane University School of Medicine in 2010 and she completed her General Psychiatry Residency at University of New Mexico School of Medicine in 2014. She completed her residency in Child Psychiatry at Tulane University School of Medicine in 2016. Dr. Thakur is passionate about mental health especially in rural populations.

Every participant who sees Dr. Thakur will also have a trained therapist in addition to Dr. Thakur to follow the family through the program. Therefore, the participant not only receives medication but also therapy. This way of participation  helps the participant to work holistically as opposed to only treating one aspect of the individual’s life. Options for Independence and Dr. Thakur work together to ensure that all participants receive the best services.

In order to be scheduled with Dr. Thakur, a referral to Options for Independence is needed by a family member, community stakeholder or other interested party.  If you have any questions about our psychiatry program, please do not hesitate to contact Fatima Griffin, LPC at (985) 868-2620 or e-mail at


Multisystemic Therapy

Multisystemic Therapy (MST) is an intensive family- and community-based treatment program that focuses on addressing all environmental systems that impact chronic and violent juvenile offenders — their homes and families, schools and teachers, neighborhoods and friends. MST recognizes that each system plays a critical role in a youth’s world and each system requires attention when effective change is needed to improve the quality of life for youth and their families. MST works with the toughest offenders ages 12 through 17 who have a very long history of arrests.

  • MST clinicians go to where the child is and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • They work intensively with parents and caregivers to put them in control
  • The therapist works with the caregivers to keep the adolescent focused on school and gaining job skills
  • The therapist and caregivers introduce the youth to sports and recreational activities as an alternative to hanging out

The MST team at Options for Independence has been recognized on a national level for its outstanding achievement in service provision. If you are interested in receiving more information about the MST program please contact Lamara Johnson at or (985) 868-2620. If you are interested in completing a referral to this program, please see the referral form on the contact page and fax to (985) 868-8547.

 Functional Family Therapy

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is built on an integrated theoretical foundation, and systematic research evidence that demonstrates its efficacy and effectiveness for reducing serious criminal behavior in youth. As a true family therapy, FFT targets the family relational system as the entry point and primary target for systematic and individualized treatment. The FFT clinical model is appealing because of its clear identification of specific phases. Each phase includes specific goals, assessment foci, specific techniques of intervention, and therapist skills necessary for success designed to guide the therapist in working with the family to meet the short term and long term treatment goals.

The major goals of Functional Family Therapy are to:

  • Engage and motivate youth and their families by decreasing the intense negativity (blaming, hopelessness) so often characteristic of these families. Rather than ignoring or being paralyzed by the intense negative experiences these families often bring (e.g., cultural isolation and racism, loss and deprivation, abandonment, abuse, depression)
  • Reduce and eliminate the problem behaviors and accompanying family relational patterns through individualized behavior change interventions. During this phase FFT integrates a strong cognitive/attributional component into systematic skill-training in family communication, parenting, problem solving, and conflict management skills.
  • Generalize changes across problem situations by increasing the family’s capacity to adequately utilize community resources, and engage in relapse prevention.

If you are interested in receiving more information about the FFT program please contact Dayna Price at or (985) 868-2620. If you are interested in completing a referral to this program, please see the referral form on the contact page and fax to (985) 868-8547.

Functional Family Therapy—Child Welfare

 Functional Family Therapy through Child Welfare (FFT-CW) is an adaptation of Functional Family Therapy (FFT) that was designed to provide services to youth (0-18 years old) and families. FFT is a relational approach that matches interventions to the relational configurations of families. With FFT-CW, trained therapist are able to implement more “parent driven” intervention strategies to build skills and create a family context in which youth can flourish. This program addresses the mental health, substance abuse and behavioral needs of parents as well as children.

Our FFT-CW team is using FFT-HR (high risk) model which includes five phases: (1) Engagement, (2) Motivation, (3) Relational Assessment, (4) Behavior Change and (5) Generalization. Each phase includes specific techniques of intervention, as well as therapist goals and qualities. The intervention involves a strong cognitive/attributional component integrated into systematic skill-training in family communication, parenting, skills, conflict management skills and numerous other skills linked to a variety of syndromes and referral problems.

Can we help one of your families? Please contact our Program Supervisor, Robin Simmons, LMSW, at 985-868-2620 or

Community Psychiatric Support and Treatment For Youth

The Youth CPST (community psychiatric support and treatment)/PSR(psychosocial rehabilitation)  Community Based Services Program is a community, school and home based support and skill building program designed to provide children and adolescents with strategies and treatment options for improved behavioral health management.  Goal-directed supports and interventions are designed to address the individualized needs of each youth.

  • The program is approximately 6 months in duration.
  • Intensity of services is based upon the individualized needs of each youth.
  • Home, school, and community visits occur throughout service provision.
  • Parent/Guardian involvement is highly encouraged.
  • Behavior Contingency Plans are introduced and recommended as part of treatment.
  • Skill building activities including anger management, communication, socialization, conflict resolution, etc, are an integral part of the treatment process

 If you are interested in receiving more information about the CPST  program for youth please contact Fatima Griffin, LPC at (985) 868-2620 or via email: If you are interested in completing a referral to this program, please see the referral form on the contact page and fax to (985) 868-8547.