Piper Meyer-Kalos, PhD, LP, is a University of Minnesota Physicians’ clinical psychologist who works primarily with individuals experiencing serious mental illness. Much of her work focuses on those with schizophrenia or first-episode psychosis.
Early in her career, Dr. Meyer-Kalos spent a lot of time in evidenced-based practices, where she learned about psychosocial treatment development. This exposed her to different realms within psychosocial treatment, including resiliency training, psychological recovery and positive psychology.
Positive psychology has remained a focal point of Dr. Meyer-Kalos’ work, and she continues to try and advance her understanding of it through clinical trials. Currently, she is combining positive psychology and mindfulness to see if it reduces the psychological and biological effects of stress activity in the brain for people with first-episode psychosis. She hypothesizes that this approach could have a longer-lasting effect on improving functional outcomes.
After each study, researchers analyze the data and gain a little more information that’s applicable to a clinical setting. For example, during a previous trial, she adapted a group therapy intervention for people with schizophrenia into an individual therapy intervention for people with first-episode psychosis using positive psychology.
“It’s a real passion of mine because I'm interested in how we can best support recovery for people with serious mental illness. There are more opportunities to really enhance and support recovery while building strength and resources in treatment."
Dr. Piper Meyer-Kalos
Dr. Meyer-Kalos is also part of the NAVIGATE program, a coordinated specialty care model located in St. Louis Park (SLP) that is designed specifically for first-episode psychosis. The program includes a psychiatrist, who is the prescriber, family education clinicians, individual therapy clinicians and a program director.
The longer the symptoms of psychosis go untreated, the greater the risk of additional problems. The group in SLP are fortunate to have enough staff to double the size of a normal NAVIGATE team, allowing them to leverage each other's individual expertise. Many people in the program struggle to stay engaged with it, so the NAVIGATE team centers on what’s important to each patient’s life—for many, it is getting back to work or school.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of this team and to work directly with individuals and their family members,” Dr. Meyer-Kalos said.