Dr. Julia Kannard, CPC, DBH: Meet Our Clinical Director

We are delighted to announce that Dr.Julia Kannard, CPC, DBH was recently appointed to the role of clinical director for Moriah Behavioral Health’s mood and anxiety division.

Dr. Kannard is known for her years working with eating disorders, outpatient program development and primary care and mental health integration. We asked Dr. Kannard to share what she is most excited about; leading a team of clinicians in adolescent mood and anxiety treatment.

Q: Tell us about your background and passion for this role?

Dr. Kannard: My background in this field includes all levels of inpatient and outpatient care, wrap-around and multi-disciplinary services for acute needs, serious mental illness, SUD, eating disorders and working with primary care and mental health care integration. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and doctorate in behavioral health. While I was working on my education, I had the benefit of working as a behavioral health tech as well, in case management, as a therapist and a lead therapist, and eventually became heavily involved in program development for a new DBT-based PHP program in Arizona. We utilized feedback from clients to continually improve the experience and outcomes of the program, which is something I carried into subsequent program development roles once I moved here to Nevada.


Q: Much of your work has been focused on treatment for eating disorders. How does that influence and inform your approach to treatment for mood and anxiety?

Dr. Kannard: I started as a BHT at a residential eating disorder treatment facility and have worked extensively with eating disorders in my roles at Moriah. While we stabilize the eating disorder, we are always mindful of treating the underlying mental health component, as well. Every intervention, every family session and individual session and group session, the mental health piece connects with the eating disorder. When dealing with mood and anxiety, we see many similar struggles with body image, self-esteem, and low value and worth, and that experience helps me to be more thorough and look at the issues through a different lens. It’s also helpful that our team members have diverse treatment backgrounds and bring many different perspectives for conceptualizing clients, which lends to great collaboration in our approach to treatment.


Q: Why is outcome tracking such an important focus as your take on this role as clinical director?

Dr. Kannard: Outcome tracking is crucial because you want to make sure that the interventions you’re using are making a difference. Having those objective measures and quantifiable data to support what the client is expressing and what they’re demonstrating is really valuable. Whether they feel like they’re doing really well, or if they don’t feel they’re making enough progress, it’s helpful to be able to pull out the data and show the client how far they’ve come. It’s also great to share with parents so they can see areas of improvement that the on-site teams have the luxury of seeing everyday. If the outcome measures aren’t showing the change we and the families are looking for, we look at other interventions and treatment approaches we can implement to achieve that. Throughout treatment, we’re using scales for depression, anxiety, and strength and difficulties to help individualize their care.These tools really help us to ensure we are providing appropriate care for the client and that they are able to reach their goals.


Q: What are some unique aspects about working with adolescents?

Dr. Kannard: The family component is huge with minors of any age. One of the things I am most passionate about is treating the whole family and bridging the gap between the adolescent in residential care and the family at home. While the adolescent is in treatment,they’re receiving 24-hour a day support and attention, and the family needs to be plugged into that. It’s really been my focus throughout my time at Moriah to make sure the family is progressing as well and is prepared for the adolescent’s return to the home environment. One of the things I love about working with adolescents is that they don’t always have as many years of behaviors and thought processes to work through, and they are more resilient to adapt and learn new things. Many adolescents come in with no skills at all, so we spend time just working on skill-building, which can go a long way. They have time on their side and they have brain plasticity on their side, which gives them a unique ability and opportunity to make changes.


Dr. Kannard’s passion for working with individuals and families on their journey to overcome eating disorders and mental health concerns, stems from her personal struggles as a youth. She is able to connect with Moriah clients and families authentically, helping them understand that while the road will be challenging, recovery is possible and attainable.