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Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic is “equipping people with the tools to navigate life’s challenges”

A desk with the words Operational Stress Injury Clinic lit up in blue.

The Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic (NSOSIC) is embarking on a journey to transform mental health and addiction service offerings. By developing a multi-year training plan, NSOSIC aims to revolutionize interventions, ensuring individuals receive holistic, evidence-based care tailored to their needs.

NSOSIC belongs to a national network of Operational Stress and Injury Clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada. 

The clinic provides mental health services to clients of Veterans Affairs Canada, Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). With offices located in Dartmouth and Sydney, NSOSIC provides services to clients throughout Nova Scotia.

"Our focus is not just on treatment but on empowerment and growth," said Patrick Daigle, program leader with NSOSIC. "By expanding our individual and group interventions, we're equipping people with the tools to navigate life's challenges.”

NSOSIC is a specialized outpatient program that focuses on assessing and treating operational stress injuries (OSI) to help clients improve their quality of life. An OSI refers to any psychological difficulty resulting from operational duties during military or RCMP service.  

The NSOSIC team consists of psychiatrists, psychologists, registered nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and nurse practitioners.

At the center of NSOSIC's approach lie its core types of therapies including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye-Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) and Motivational Interviewing (MI). These evidence-based techniques form the foundation of NSOSIC's intervention framework, providing a robust platform for healing.

"We've witnessed remarkable transformations," shared Conor Ryan, clinical team leader with NSOSIC. "But we recognize the need for a multi-faceted approach, especially for individuals facing conditions that do not respond to treatment."

To address this, NSOSIC has introduced innovative techniques like Schema-Based Cognitive Therapy, Emotion Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT), and Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT). These specialized interventions target deep-rooted cognitive patterns, emotional regulation and intrusive thoughts, offering personalized strategies for lasting change.

"We're not just treating symptoms; we're addressing the underlying mechanisms," explained Dr. Abraham Rudnick, clinical director of NSOSIC. “This comprehensive approach is pivotal in promoting sustained recovery and resilience.”

But NSOSIC’s commitment goes beyond conventional therapy. 

Recognizing the intertwined nature of mental health and substance use disorders, NSOSIC offers tailored interventions, including trauma-informed yoga, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and biofeedback.

"We're addressing the whole spectrum of well-being," noted Ryan. "From trauma recovery to addiction support, our goal is to empower individuals on their journey to wellness."

Cultural sensitivity is paramount at NSOSIC, with a dedicated emphasis on inclusive practices and team learning opportunities. This ensures that every individual, irrespective of background, receives compassionate and culturally responsive care.

"We're fostering a culture of understanding and acceptance," said Dr. Rudnick. "Because healing begins with feeling seen and heard."

To cater to diverse needs, NSOSIC embraces outsourcing for specialized services, ensuring access to comprehensive care while optimizing internal resources. This includes referrals for psychodynamic therapies, couples’ therapy and grief counseling, among others.

"Our aim is to provide seamless, integrated care," emphasized Daigle. "By collaborating with external partners, we're expanding our reach and impact, enriching the lives of those we serve.”

As NSOSIC continues to evolve, its dedication to holistic care remains unwavering. From prescribing psychotropic medications to recommending neuromodulation therapies, NSOSIC's holistic approach addresses both mental and physical health, promoting overall well-being.

"Our journey is one of growth and transformation," reflected Daigle. "Through innovation, collaboration, and compassion, we're charting paths to healing and hope."

NSOSIC's multi-year training plan represents a beacon of hope for people needing support with mental health challenges. By integrating diverse interventions and fostering a culture of inclusivity, NSOSIC is redefining the landscape of mental health care. 

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