Gary Bingham: Treating People with Compassion and Respect
After spending over a decade as a radio personality, Gary Bingham decided to turn his energy toward providing individual therapy through Maine Behavioral Healthcare. As much as he enjoyed this work he always had an interest in addiction treatment, so a few years ago he became certified as a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Last summer he joined the Integrated Medication Assisted Treatment (IMAT) team located in Springvale, one of several locations throughout the MaineHealth network that provide evidence-based treatment for people with opioid use disorder. He has a passion and genuine care for the individuals he treats that make him a valued member of the team.
At Bingham’s gentle urging, the Springvale IMAT program recently opened an evening intensive treatment option. “It feels so good to help people who have such great need and are even at risk of death,” said Bingham. “People with substance use disorders are people just like us and deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. I really enjoy talking with my clients, not at them. They get enough of that in their lives.”
IMAT Program Manager Linda Smith, LCPC, was instrumental in recruiting Bingham to the team. “When I met Gary almost four years ago, I was very impressed with his work and reputation. At that time I was working with the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team in Biddeford, and I knew then that if there was ever an opportunity to work with him, he would be a great addition to any team. Luckily, when I moved to Springvale and the IMAT team, he was immediately on my radar. For those of us who know Gary, he is patient and thoughtful, and after several conversations with him about our new team, he decided he was ready for this exciting challenge. I have never regretted that decision!”
Additional team members include Richard Kinsman, LCSW, and Dr. Joseph Scott, who is known for his open door policy and ready willingness to discuss a patient’s needs. Typical treatment for a patient with opioid use disorder will include counseling, medication management, case management and even group therapy. This means patients will not only see their clinical providers but also have an opportunity to interact with peers who face similar challenges.
One concept Bingham and the IMAT team understand well is the critical issue of timing. “We make sure we’re giving patients an opportunity at a time when they’re ready,” said Bingham. “It’s a short window, so we often need to act quickly and make ourselves readily available. That may mean working collaboratively with law enforcement, parole and other resources in the community.”
A special part of the team approach is that treatment is strength-based and focused on reinforcing the positive. This was demonstrated with one of Bingham’s IMAT patients. After participating in treatment, the woman had an unfortunate relapse that involved law enforcement. Bingham coordinated with her probation officer and helped get her back on track. “It was important that I reinforce the positive aspects of her time being clean, instead of the negative,” Bingham explained.
The woman has since tested clean for several months, the longest she has ever been sober. With the help of Bingham and the IMAT team she now finally has hope. “And that’s what we are all about.”