Addiction Prevention

Dr. Omar Manejwala: Craving

Dr. Omar Manejwala is a an addiction psychiatrist, SVP/CMO at Catasys, former Hazeldon Medical Director and the author of the new book Craving: Why We Can’t Seem to Get Enough. He is an addiction expert, with a strong background in psychiatry and addiction medicine, making him a remarkable resource for mental health professionals. In Craving, Dr. Manejwala digs deeply into the phenomenon of craving and provides real insight into what makes the addictive mind tick in a way that is accessible to everyone from the layperson to the mental-health practitioner.


Craving is that biting sensation in the mind and body, often relentless in its power. In the addictive mind, craving acts as fuel to the fire, creating a maelstrom of negative behaviors resulting in a bottomless, and often hopeless pit of dissatisfaction. This book is a timely interjection into the state of craving and addiction. Dr. Omar Manejwala provides tools to understand the root cause of our craving, providing useful tools and means with which to overcome them.


Tonight, we are honored to sit with Dr. Omar Manejwala and talk shop, ask questions, and engage in the process of gaining a deeper understanding of Craving and what that means for those of us working in the addiction field. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog.


Check out the video sneak of Dr. Manejwala talking about the book. You can also follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Recovery Self-Care Service

Being of Service: Self-Care is Still Imperative

Boundary (Photo credit: castle79)

When being of service becomes a source of obligation and stress, you’re not really being of service to anyone. If anything, you are causing harm to yourself and denigrating the purpose of service work. The steps are in order for a reason, right? Learning to love ourselves before we can wholeheartedly love others has to become part of the cornerstone of our recovery. We do the steps and “leave no stone unturned,” looking at our actions, the actions of others, our responses to them, how they effect us, how we react, and so on. We uncover and discover as much as we can, including some things that catch us by surprise. When we are brand new, the familiar adage, “fake it till you make it,” can certainly be applicable especially when you simply need to get out of yourself by being of service. At the same time, if you find that you have dedicated yourself to helping others and “faking it” to the extent that you, yourself, are being neglected, it’s time to pause.


As much as we ran away from ourselves via drugs, alcohol, food, sex, video games, social media, we can also do the same thing in recovery by overextending ourselves in our service work. We can do too much and place ourselves at great risk for doing too little for ourselves. At some point, we have to stop and feel the feelings of whatever it is we are trying to escape. We are, as they say, “as sick as our secrets.” Within each of us in recovery potentially lies the hurt child seeking solace, safety, love, and protection. As we begin to be of service to ourselves, we can be of service to that side of us that is hurting and hiding in the darkness. We can ultimately learn to be gentle with ourselves , which will allow us to be gentle with others.

How do we do this?

  • Ask for help.
  • Get a sponsor
  • Find a therapist
  • Create a network of other people in recovery with whom you can relate, be honest, and have sustained emotional safety. (Fellowship)

Set healthy Boundaries.

Physical and emotional: Think about boundaries as a “property line.” Read what Positively Positive has to say about this. It’s fantastic.

Creating healthy boundaries will help you set guidelines for people around you that tell them what is acceptable to you and what is not. There are physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, both different but both invaluable to self-esteem building and self-care. You don’t have to agree with everyone or have him or her agree with you to be liked.

Do the work

  • Work the steps.
  • Start a journal.
  • Go to meetings
  • Take commitments
  • Do the deep, therapeutic work provided by your therapist.

Being of service is our ultimate goal. We need to be able to give back what has been so freely given to us. That is step 12, after all. In the process, however, we must maintain healthy boundaries and a sense of self-care.  Remember, it’s ok not to be ok sometimes, however it’s not ok if we put on our trainers and run from our feelings. Allow someone to be of service to you. You deserve it just as much as the next person.


Recovery Service Treatment

Chloe Huerta: Assistant NeXt Manager

Chloe Huerta is one of our amazing alumni who came back and joined the Visions’ team. In 2010, Chloe brought her engaging personality and compassion to our residential facility as a Program Aide; Chloe has since become the Assistant Manager for NeXT, our Gender-Specific Extended Care program and is working toward her CAADAC.  Chloe always makes me smile whenever I see her. She’s funny, incredibly positive, willing to learn, always filled with gratitude and is a remarkable young woman. She has made it her mission to give back to the community that helped her find her way during her youth. We are tremendously grateful to have someone like Chloe as part of our team.  Her relatability, understanding, and kindness are an integral part of who she is and what she brings to the Visions family. Thank you so much for all you do, Chloe! Read on for the amazing staff comments about you and your awesomesauce:

“She is a miracle. A completely different human being than the girl I first met here in treatment. Incredibly proud of her and amazed at the level of joy, compassion and optimism this young woman displays and shares with our residents.” – Roger L’Hereault


“Chloe Huerta is an amazing example of fun in recovery and not taking life too seriously! Chloe always has a positive attitude and keeps the clients excited about their new life. Chloe is one of the most caring people I know – her genuine personality is recognized by clients and staff alike. Chloe is able to hold boundaries, express needs, and hold others accountable yet is also able to have respect from clients. She’s amazing.” – Ashley Bolen

“Chloe is a rock star! I had the pleasure of working with Chloe when we first opened up the Extended Care house and together we managed to make it work! I think the best part about her, other than her upbeat bubbly attitude, is her ability to roll with the punches and take things as the come. (There was a lot of that the first year!) She has strong passion for helping people and I feel she truly cares about the young teens we work with. It’s a pleasure to work with her and she brings a lot of fun to the table too!” – Jennifer Garrett


Chloe!  You have come such a very long way, and we are so proud of your journey!  Chloe is a Visions’ alumni who came to work for us as an overnight PA.  She moved to days and was eventually promoted to Assistant Manager of the Extended Care program.  She has helped so many girls with their early stages of recovery because she truly relates to their struggles and issues.  Chloe is in school for her counseling certificate and is one of our brightest stars.  We are grateful for her work ethic and her ability to show up “no matter what.”  We love us some Chloe!!!  — Amanda and Chris Shumow


No staff blog would be the same without our 10 questions. As I thought, Chloe doesn’t disappoint:

1: What is your Starbucks order?

 Iced  Dirty Chai or Iced Green Tea (no water)

2: Sand or Sea? Why?

I’m afraid of sea creatures but I love being in the ocean

3: Favorite literary character?

 Pippi Longstocking

4: Are you following your dreams?

I have a lot of dreams but I’m on the path to following my current dreams.

5:  What is your greatest joy?

Spending time with my younger brother

6: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?

Floranopolis, Brazil. It’s supposed to be beautiful, I am obsessed with the culture and a few of my friends live there.

7: If you could have dinner with anyone (alive or dead), who would it be and why?

Hellen Keller!

8: Cake or pie?

Cake–pie is for Thanksgiving.

9: Dogs or Cats?

I’m all about the pups! 

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I’ve always wanted to give back to the people who saved my life. I looked up to the tech, counselors, and therapists when I was a resident and I hoped to help someone at such an important time in their life.


Aleksandra Petrovic, LMSW — Trauma Specialist

Aleksandra Petrovic, LMSW, is a trauma specialist, coming to Visions via New York where she worked with underprivileged children and their families. Aleksandra’s work led her to a hospital outpatient program for dual-diagnosed adolescents, which used DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) as their primary modality of treatment. Continuing to help underprivileged youth, Aleksandra went on to work at a state-run adolescent recovery center with children ages 5-16 who had been shuffled through the foster care system until they could no longer be placed due to their behavior. Aleksandra earned her B.A at Columbia University, double majoring in psychology and French literature, with a minor in neuroscience. She went on to earn her masters degree in social work at Hunter’s School of Social Work in NYC.

Aleksandra has completed her training in EMDR at the EMDR Institute under its founder Francine Shapiro. She uses EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation and Reprocessing) and TF-CBT (Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) regularly when working with clients and their trauma(s).

EMDR is a

“one-on-one form of psychotherapy that is designed to reduce trauma-related stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to improve overall mental health functioning. (via SAMSHA)

TF-CBT is a

“psychosocial treatment model designed to treat posttraumatic stress and related emotional and behavioral problems in children and adolescents. Initially developed to address the psychological trauma associated with child sexual abuse, the model has been adapted for use with children who have a wide array of traumatic experiences, including domestic violence, traumatic loss, and the often multiple psychological traumas experienced by children prior to foster care placement.” (via SAMHSA)

Aleksandra will use TF-CBT by having a client paint or write their story several times until there is a full range of emotions expressed. The repetition of reading and writing eventually desensitizes the severity of the impact of one’s memories. Aleksandra also uses Internal Family Systems (IFS) to help her clients safely access their trauma, helping them “go back” into the traumatic scene and “save” their younger selves. Processes such as these require a commitment to doing difficult work, but they are worth the efforts.   Deep trauma work employed in the modalities Aleksandra uses is extremely beneficial for treating trauma in adolescents and helping them process their trauma in a safe, therapeutic way.

Aleksandra uses the treatment modality most beneficial to her client’s needs whether it’s EMDR, TF-CBT, IFS, writing, movement, or art. Her approach and style are right in line with the Visions’ holistic, client-based approach to adolescent treatment. Her work with the kids at Visions is very individualized–Aleksandra first focuses on building a rapport with the kids, and creating a trusting, safe environment for them to express themselves. When she treats trauma, she assesses where the client is emotionally, whether their trauma was chronic or an isolated event, their awareness surrounding their trauma, if it is repressed or glaringly present, and whether or not there are any psychological issues like mood disorders, depression, or mania present resulting in a dual diagnosis.

Aleksandra has taken her own trauma recovery and transformed it into a path of being of service to adolescents struggling with their own deep traumas. She believes that treating trauma is a crucial step in working on one’s recovery from addiction, eating disorders and other mental health issues. Aleksandra recognizes the influence of major and minor traumas as often being the underlying cause of substance abuse and self-harming behaviors.  We are so fortunate to have such a compassionate, caring trauma specialist as part of our clinical team at Visions Our clients now have access to trauma treatment in both our residential and outpatient programs, as we recognize the deep impact unresolved trauma has on one’s recovery.

Anniversary Blogs Recovery Service Treatment

Scott Davenport — Residential Counselor

Scott Davenport started working as a Program Aide in 2010. His dedication and willingness to learn has led him to become a Residential Counselor, the position he holds now. As such, Scott is working more directly with the clients, and bringing his cool sense of calm energy into everything he does. Scott has this wonderful ability to connect with the clients on a very real level, especially since he was once a client himself. His innate gentleness and kindness make him easy to talk to and extremely relatable. Scott is an extremely consistent and dedicated member of the Visions team—he’ll show up for anything he’s asked to do, and is always intent on doing what’s right for the clients.



One of the things I really appreciate and respect about Scott is how thoughtful he is in regard to what he says and how he mindfully interacts with those around him. He doesn’t say anything unless it necessary or true, making him someone worth listening to. Because of that quality, Scott is a really skilled listener. In the time I’ve known Scott, I can tell you that he is one of those people who means what he says and says what he means. He is kind and gentle but understands the need to hold firm boundaries with the clients. The kids in our programs are lucky to have him in their lives and so are we.


Read on for some particularly kind words from some of the Visions team:


“Ah Scotttt! I love Scott! It’s like all of the good things in life got together and said, ‘HERE YA GO! ENJOY!’ He’s a great person to be around and on those days at Visions when everything is chaos, he is just serenity incarnate…to me and Aleks at least.” – Janette Duran


“Scott is one of my favorite heroes.  He is a gentle soul, well-liked and respected by the kids and his peers. Also, if you don’t already know this, he is an artist extraordinaire.  I have an original Davenport hanging in my studio.  Thanks Scott, you are the best.” – Susan “Art Lady” O’Connor


“Scott is definitely the calm in the storm.  His kindness combined with his dead-on assessment with what’s going on with the clients makes him great support for both the kids and his co-workers!!” —  Katie Mason


“Scott does a great job with the kids, very calm and patient.” – Bill Hoban

“Love the guy; effortless person to work with.  I think this is in part due to Scott being a mindful practitioner of the team approach. It’s really an equal two-way street with him or a live-and-let-live-through-mutual cooperation kind of vibe.
A grounded, consistent and calming force he is. Yes, that last sentence sounded like Yoda. He’d dig that, I think.” – Roger L’Heauralt


“Who would have ever thought that the young man seeming not to pay attention when he was a client at IOP would turn into one of Visions’ brightest stars!  Scott is such an amazing mentor for our clients.  His steady, patient and quiet way adds a feeling of calm to the days that seem so hectic.  He has truly grown into an amazing employee, friend and man in the time that we have known him.  Scott has stepped up into the large shoes Brian left when he moved to Latigo and has not missed a step.  He is always thinking of the clients’ best interests and will show up for any crisis or for a skate!” – Amanda and Chris Shumow

Our staff blogs wouldn’t be the same without some insight from those we’re honoring. Of course we asked Scott to answer our 10 questions, and of course, he answered them with the same thoughtful, mindful qualities we can expect. Read on:

1: Favorite movie of all time?


2: Who is your hero?

My Dad

3: Last book you read?

Neuromancer by William Gibson

4: If you could have been any person from history, who would it be and why?

MLK – He stood for so many important, great things.  He made a profound difference for our country and for humanity without using violence or hate.

5: Best late-night LA haunt?

I don’t have a lot of late nights.  Favorite morning place – sitting outside in the sun with a cup of coffee.

6: Do you sing in the shower?

Yes, I always have weird songs stuck in my head first thing when I wake up in the morning.

7: What is your most memorable skateboarding story?

I think I hit my head once but I don’t remember?

8: Describe yourself in 3 words.

Generous, optimistic, honest.

9: What inspires you?

Beautiful places, animals, morning, good people, hard working people, funny things, being outside.

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I love the people I get to work with.  Visions seems to have a unique way of helping teenagers without being cutesy or treating them like children, something I really needed and appreciated when I was a client.  I was always treated with respect and compassion and was usually guided by positive examples rather than told what to do.  It is something that has stuck with me that I would like to give back.

Mental Health Recovery

Mental Health Recovery: Lose the Stigma

Recovery (Photo credit: glenn~)

Addiction and mental health are deeply woven into the fabric of our culture. Rather than stigmatizing those suffering from the confines of their minds and addictions of their bodies, it’s clear we need to provide wider ranges of treatment for recovery. Over the Visions has broadened our treatment base, continued to step away from the prohibitive nature of limited thinking, and are continuing to encompass the whole person in treatment. I just read an article that talked about the use of antiquated treatment methods circa 1950, and I was pleasantly reminded of how forward we are in our treatment programs.


Our mental health track has broadened to include the treatment of trauma, provide DBT for all levels of treatment, and allow for alternative methods of support when the 12-step model isn’t appropriate. Recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all, and we recognize that. Our therapists and staff devise a treatment plan appropriate for each client, supporting their individual needs while also providing them with the treatment they need. We can begin to find solace in therapeutic care, safety in our own bodies, and space in our hearts to heal from the deep wounds of our hurts. We will find that there are answers to the most difficult questions if we are ready and willing to do the work. To give up when things are painful or when the shadows are looming cease being a choice when a skillful clinical and support staff supports you.


Remember, healing is a process, not an easy 28-day fix. Recovery is a life-long practice that we engage in one day at a time, and some days, one moment at a time. Many of us want everything right here, right now, supersized, and fast: the typical “quick fix.” Recovery isn’t like that. Allow yourself the chance to slow down and catch your breath. Allow yourself to let go and accept help. Our brains and bodies can recover and learn to hold space for our trauma and addictions in ways that are safe and kind to us as individuals.


Try this for good measure. Find a group of friends whom you trust and feel safe with; make a pact to text each other “.b” (stop-breathe) when you are feeling overwhelmed or when you want to have a unified moment of mindfulness between you and a friend. By doing something as simple as this, we can create a chain of positive healing instead of polishing the old standby chain of sickness. We can recover.

Mental Health Recovery Treatment

Teen Rehab: A Space for Healing

Making the decision to send your child to teen rehab is emotionally complex. It takes great courage to pick up the phone and ask for help when your family is in crisis. Harder yet is the process of following through and accepting the help you are given. A suffering teen, who is spiraling quickly down the rabbit hole of addiction and mental health isn’t exactly a pillar of willingness; parents are sure to be confronted with resentment and resistance. The truth is, a teen who is in trouble more than likely won’t look at going to a teen rehab as a viable option, let alone a necessity. For some, however, it is a life-saving necessity.

As we enter into our second decade of service, we want you to know you have a safe refuge to turn to.  At Visions, we have built a treatment facility ready to provide you with the tools to heal from the wounds of addiction and mental illness, while providing you with the skills to love without crossing the boundaries into co-dependence. We have two residential houses: one that caters to mental health issues and one to addiction. We also have an outpatient facility, a day school, and a young adult program, and gender specific sober living facilities. The varying levels of care we provide are broad. Teen rehab need no longer be considered a frightening place to send your adolescent, but rather a refuge for your teen to heal and rediscover a space of emotional and physical safety.

Curious about whether or not your child needs teen rehab?  Check for these warning signs:

  • Is your child away from home for long periods of time and unable to communicate where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing?
  • When they do come home, do they beeline for their room, making no eye contact or conversation?
  • Is there a profound change in behavior: is your child especially angry or easily agitated or are they showing signs of depressions or apathy?
  • Are their grades suddenly dropping?
  • Has their social circle suddenly changed?
  • Have they radically altered their appearance in some way?
  • Are their moods markedly changing?
  • Has there been an abrupt change in weight?

Some parents are fortunate enough to have a child who attempts transparency and who tells them they have been using. Keep this in mind: if your child does tell you they’ve tried drugs or are doing drugs, you more than likely need to multiply the amount by 3,  if not more.  Teen rehab isn’t just about your teen; it provides a space for the family to heal as a unit. A teen using drugs and alcohol, cutting, or starving themself is voicelessly begging for help. As parents, we have to step outside of that place of blame and anger to help our teen step on a path to recovery. Teen rehab can facilitate that process.

Addiction Adolescence Alcoholism Holidays Mental Health Recovery

End of the Year: Mental Health Care

It’s the end of the year, and for recovering addicts, alcoholics, and those suffering from mental health issues, it can be a frightening time. We place on onslaught of expectations on others and ourselves as we seek perfection and immediate change via resolutions and hyped up promised to ourselves. In many ways, this can be a set up for failure, especially for the addict/alcoholic who has to do everythingallatonce. You know, who else wants to join a gym and work out every day for 3 hours with a trainer 7 days a week while also giving up meat and going vegan? What, that’s not reasonable? Sheesh. Can’t we do everything? The honest answer is no, at least not all at once.

Okay, so the New Year metaphorically represents a time of renewal and an opportunity to commit to personal change.  Recovery teaches us not to place too much pressure on ourselves as we begin to make change. We are encouraged to take baby steps. In the beginning of the recovery process, the foundation we stand upon is tenuous; working steps, getting a sponsor, being of service is part of our construction process. We are building a foundation one action at a time. Mental health recovery requires us to work hard and consistently to broaden the safe, healing ground on which we stand.  Resting on our laurels is simply not an option. Holiday time and end of year shenanigans make recovery work imperative; there is no reprieve.

Before you get overwhelmed with resolutions, how to deal with parties, peer pressures, and goals of perceived perfection: stop. Just stop.  This isn’t an opportunity to beat yourself up or wallow in the what-ifs and I-should-haves, nor is it the opportunity to kick your feet up and rest.  This is the time to take things one minute at a time.

  • Call your sponsor.
  • Take your medication—even if you feel better!!
  • Surround yourself with friends who are supportive of your new path.
  • Make plans that include having safe, sober fun.
  • And don’t forget to have a sober dance party.

This time of year presents the perfect time to be of service and to practice self-care. Our mental health depends on it. Embrace your new self. You are beautiful and enough, just as you are.

Anniversary Blogs Service Treatment

Stan Weinstock, CPA – Controller

Honestly, what can I say about Stan Weinstock, the man that literally keeps me on my mathematical toes, makes the best bad jokes, is my lunar calendar comrade, and who is one of the most genuinely kind human beings I’ve ever met? There simply isn’t enough space. Before I met Stan, I was told that he was THE Laker fan. I shrugged it off, until I saw his car and I was sure, absolutely dead positive, it belonged to a Laker staff member. I was wrong; it was Stan’s remarkable yellow and purple, 4-wheeled homage to our beloved Los Angeles Lakers. He was serious. He is also serious about Excel formulae, of which I lack any real comprehension. I wonder, who will check my math now and make sure I get paid? I’ll miss Stan, who is affectionately referred to as “Stan the Man” here in V-Town. He’s been a part of the Visions fabric since our inception. We are losing a huge part of our family, but the world is gaining an incredible man. No more deadlines, Stan! Awesome!


Stan the man, the LAKERS fan — funniest dude at the Vis, and that’s a tough title to earn!  The first person I met here after Chris, Amanda and Fi, Stan put a (super-)-human face and perspective on all the paperwork around here.  LOVE him! –Jesse Engdahl


Stan the Man!  Things won’t be the same without him.  He is a fixture at Visions, and in the midst of our chaos he has never been too busy to help out.  Most of all I will miss his mastery of the well-placed pun.  – Patrick Schettler


Stan has consistently bent over backwards to help the employees of Visions, he is the quiet Bodhisattva of our company.  His patience in explaining 401k plans, and health insurance has saved me from many panic attacks.  Everyone at Visions will sorely miss him and his quirky attachment to Windows products.  I wish him all the best in his retirement, he deserves it! Go Lakers! – Joseph Rogers


Stan really is the man! He is so patient and helpful, whether it is a paycheck question or a technological dilemma. He will be missed as will his purple and yellow Lakers Lexus! – Heather Colligan


What can I say…. Don’t go!  You are funny, smart and so very considerate.  I know you go the extra mile to pay me right away.  Thanks.  You will be missed.  Stay in touch.  and of course, “Go Lakers” – Susan O’Connor


Stan is special in so many ways, and I mean that in a good way!!  Make sure you listen to everything he says, there is often a disguised, inappropriate joke in there somewhere!  Oh, and I think he likes the Lakers a little, but I could be mistaken. – Katie Mason


Stan’s the man. He has significantly helped foster an era of banter, puns, bad jokes, good jokes, irony, simile and off the wall observations.
That’s not all–he works here too! We will miss our cheerful and wise employee advocate. It simply won’t be the same place without him. – Roger L’Hereault


What can be said about Stan that hasn’t already been said? Stan is the man! Visions won’t be the same without him. His steady kindness and impeccable work ethic are second to none. He is a man of strength and integrity. Most people don’t see it, but Stan has a fiery side, which he uses to fight against the injustices of evil insurance companies. Stan has amazing patience and he can multi-task like a seven-armed madman. I don’t know how he does it, but he makes time for everyone’s demands and gets the job done with unparalleled tenacity and thoroughness. That’s all I have to say about Stan, and even though I’m fairly sure it’s already been said, it bears repeating! Thanks for all of the paychecks and Go Lakers! – Daniel Dewey


Stan has been around since almost day one. Stan is always willing to be a team
player and help out with most anything needed.He implemented our simple IRA and made it relatively simple for everyone. Stan has become a bit of an institution
around here and will be dearly missed. — Bill Hoban

I have had the privilege of working with Stan for the past 8 years or so. Stan is an important part of the Visions family, and his unique sense of humor and view of the world is always refreshing. Stan is constantly helping Visions staff to stay on track and on time so we can get paid. Stan has a heart of gold and is always concerned about others. Thank you Stan for your hard work and commitment to Visions. — John Lieberman


Stan, we will miss you!  After “about” 10 years as our Controller, Stan, “The Man” Weinstock is retiring.  From the beginning, Stan has helped us stay on budget, get our paychecks, get us paid and bought the best Holiday Party gifts anyone could ask for!  He has helped so many of our staff look at their finances, explained insurance stuff (mind boggling :), all the while fitting right in with the rest of us quirky folk.  Stan has been our go-to computer guy, and we already miss the funny emails that he sends!  Stan’s Laker Mobile will be missed in our driveway.  We are grateful that we had so much time with you, but guess it’s Lori and the dogs’ turn.  Thank you so much!  — Amanda and Chris Shumow 


Time for those quirky questions. What, you thought Stan would escape those? No way! Read on:

1: Were you always good at math?

I guess.  If I remember, there were 48 bars on my crib.

2: Phil Jackson or Mike D’Antoni? Why?

That’s easy, has to be Phil Jackson.  At this point, the Lakers record since D’Antoni is 4-8.  But they haven’t lost a game under Phil Jackson so far this season.   But seriously, because this IS serious, how do you not go with the guy who won all the titles?

3: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

In & Out.  Oh, you probably mean travel?  Maybe Patsy’s Pizzeria in NY.

4: Did the Lakers sponsor the custom paint job on your truck?

Is a “Cease and Desist” order like a sponsorship?

5: What superhero best represents you?

The Silver Surfer, one of the noblest (but tormented) cosmic entities in the Marvel universe.  He often sacrificed his liberty for the greater good.  Although he is from the planet Zenn-La, and I’m not, we are both trapped here on earth.

6: Top 5 favorite Visions’ moments over the last 10 years?

  1. Handing out the prizes at the company holiday parties.
  2. The time it snowed – I wasn’t there but I heard it was amazing!
  3. When the neighbor’s herd of goats came to visit at Mulholland.
  4. That time I managed to reconcile the bank account.
  5. Changing gears here – every time I’ve read a letter from a parent thankful for the work Visions has done to help and heal their child and their family.

7: What will you miss the most about Visions?

All the truly nice people I’ve worked with over the years.  And the meals.

8: What will you miss the least?

The 3:00 pm deadline for submitting payroll.  It’s taken years off my life, or at least hairs off my head.

9: Do you have any big adventures planned for your retirement?

Just the usual, nothing major – end hunger, bring peace to the world, stop global warming, read a book, take a nap.

10: Why did you choose to work for Visions?

Goes back to question 5 – sacrificing liberty for the greater good.  And question 7.

Anniversary Blogs Service Treatment

Brian Wildason, MA, CADC II -Residential Counselor

Brian Wildason is a Visions superstar. He has been with us since 2005, working with our teens and their families with wholehearted dedication. Brian has a wry sense of humor, which seasons his professionalism and interactions with the staff and clients in a wonderful way. He’s always the first one to help if and when help is needed. One of the things I always notice about Brian is his ability to remain calm amidst the hubbub of treatment. Brian is extremely reliable and is always, and I mean, ALWAYS, the one willing to do the most unusual of jobs. Got an alligator in your tub? B-dubs is the man to call.  The staff couldn’t agree with me more. Read on:


Brian, a.k.a. B-dubs, is an amazing coworker and moreover a close friend. I don’t want to inflate his ego, but it should be said that he is one of the most integral people working at Visions. He works magic with the kids that are fortunate enough to receive his counseling. He’s always striving to be better at his job and keeps everyone on their toes with his wit and wisdom. If he was as good at golf as he is at his job, he’d be on the PGA tour leaderboard every weekend. – Daniel Dewey

Brian is unbelievably good at what he does. I hear from parents and alumni all the time who are eternally grateful for his compassion and dedication to the process.  He is a true professional and a great friend. He is also the Undisputed Ping Pong Champion of Visions, having turned away countless challengers. –   Patrick Schettler

Brian is the American all-star of Visions. He can handle anything and is always there to smooth out a problem. – Heather Colligan

My first recollection of Brian was as a Program Aid. Brian was always the first to raise his hand to volunteer for interesting jobs and extra shifts. Brian is the first to help and the last to leave. – John Lieberman

Brian Wildason, lead counselor, and mentor to staff is a life changer.  In addition to being Amanda’s work husband (Chris has John, so it works out), he is truly one of the driving forces behind our program.  He has an incredible ability to intuitively know what the clients and the staff need within moments of speaking to them.  He has been a leader in creating new programming, the first to adjust to the electronic charting system and overall has helped Visions maintain the highest level of integrity when it comes to providing what we say we provide: the best treatment for adolescents and their families.  Brian has helped change the lives of so many clients.  By putting their needs above all else, he provides the steady, positive influence that so many of our clients need when they’re in treatment.  Brian also remembers to make sure the kids are having fun, which is so critical to adolescent treatment.  Thank you, Brian, for all you do.  We appreciate it more than you know. – Amanda and Chris Shumow


Read on for Brian’s answers to the usual series of silly questions behind these anniversary blogs

1: What inspires you to do what you do?

Remembering when I was a lost teenager and not knowing where to turn.  I try and offer support and encouragement for struggling teens and families.

2: You are always of service, what do you do to ensure self-care?

Sit on the porch with my dog and enjoy the silence.  Golf and cigars is always good also.

3: If you could say one thing calm a frightened parent, what would it be?

I wish there was something to say to make it better, I think offering a kind smile goes along way.  Also I think its important to remind parents to Breathe…repeat….repeat…  You are not alone, there is hope

4: Mountains, Desert, or Beach?

Got a go with beach…unless its Vegas then desert

5: “Cake or death?” Just kidding. Cake or Pie?

Pie (Warm Pecan with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or hot apple pie with a slice of American cheese.

6: Do you play any musical instruments?


7: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Professional bull rider or a clown

8: If you were stranded on an island, what 3 books would HAVE to have with you?

Ummmmm…”Fishing for Dummies,” “How to Build a Sailboat in 30 days or Less,” and Sun Tzu’s – “Art of War.”

9: If you were a Sesame Street character, who would you be?

Oscar the Grouch.

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

The commitment and passion of the staff towards helping families heal. We are pretty much a family helping other families.

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