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A Unique Approach to Mental Well-Being: Pinnacle Behavioral Health

Rocco Pezzulo

by Marlaina Donato

In recent years, due to a plethora of information and much-needed open discussion, seeking help for depression, anxiety disorders, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder has eliminated the shame surrounding these common human struggles, but because of individual needs and insurance issues, finding the right avenue of treatment can be complex.

“Pinnacle Behavioral Health was founded on the reality that one size does not fit all when it comes to mental and emotional health, and this is the foundation of our cutting-edge programs,” says Rocco Pezzulo, director of operations at Pinnacle Behavioral Health in Albany since 2008.

The reputable outpatient center outsources to the College of St. Rose, and has 40 practitioners under one roof. Their comprehensive counseling services target depression, anxiety and addiction, as well as the unique issues and trauma of men, women, couples and families. Pinnacle Behavioral Health is also one of the few of its kind to offer programs for the LGBT community.

Classes and groups are designed to address body, mind and spirit, and include expressive art, yoga, tai chi and qigong. Part of the healing team comprises psychiatrists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed mental health counselors, physicians’ assistants, a nurse practitioner and certified hypnotist. Most major insurance is accepted by independent Pinnacle practitioners.

As our nation battles an opioid crisis, Pinnacle Behavioral Health offers solutions. “We effectively use Suboxone,” says Pezzulo. “While an opioid, it doesn’t affect neurotransmitters like other medications and does not promote cravings. The ingredient Naloxone blocks effects of opioid medications, including feelings of comfort that can lead to opioid abuse. We help people get their health back, as well as lifestyle goals that include weaning them off of everything. Medication management services are tailored to individuals’ medical and personal needs. The foundation of our group therapy is learning where addiction comes from and how it affects others, such as family and friends.”

Research has shown that medication management is most effective when combined with other treatment modalities like individual and group therapy, and Pinnacle Behavioral Health further spearheads issues around opioid use by hosting a highly effective group dedicated to pain education and management.
For Pezzulo, the best part of his job is traveling and seeking out new modalities. The most recent area of interest is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive procedure that stimulates nerve cells in the brain using magnetic fields. “It’s exciting, because TMS improves symptoms of depression without medication,” says Pezzulo.

At Pinnacle Behavioral Health, children have therapeutic options that are fun, effective and include a heavy dose of play. Pezzulo explains, “Our play therapy for kids includes a big sandbox, and kids get into character. How kids play can tell us a lot about what’s going on under the surface of a child, and watching their behaviors during play is an important aspect of play therapy. Productive play, among several things, helps to build healthier self-esteem.”

Grief, while separate from other common areas of mental health, is something taken seriously at Pinnacle Behavioral Health. “Basically, we address the three stages of grief and determine where the client is. The goal is to realize that loss is part of life, and to reach a state of acceptance surrounding change. Present moment awareness is very crucial, which from a health perspective, can be a blessing that spreads to all areas of life,” says Pezzulo.

A few independent practitioners at Pinnacle Behavioral Health are New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services-certified and can provide a variety of alcohol and substance abuse evaluation services related to driving while intoxicated cases. They also provide assessments for those that need follow-up evaluations while attending New York State Drinking Driver Program classes.

Pezzulo has seen a lot of positive change through the years, and witnessing lives changed for the better is the reward for a lot of hard work. She shares with humble enthusiasm, “It’s wonderful to be part of it all.”

Pinnacle Behavioral Health is located at 1 Pinnacle Pl. Ste. 102, in Albany. For more information, call 518-689-0244 or visit PinnacleBehavioralHealth.com.

Marlaina Donato is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.