Holidays Mental Health Self-Care

Holidays and Self-Care

Agni Yoga
Agni Yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is having learned the many ways in which we can care for ourselves. We typically come to recovery via hard emotional and/or physical bottoms. In other words, we have often lost our asses in the process of trying to stay afloat. So, when we get to a place where we are being taken care of, we soon discover we are also learning to take care of ourselves.

When holidays are bestowed upon us, there is a great opportunity to invoke a sense of self-care. In the past, holidays often meant alcohol-filled parties or BBQs filled with some sense of debauchery or another.  With the air of recovery about you, better choices are possible. This isn’t to say that gain perfect judgment—we don’t. We are human, after all. But the chances of us doing something good for ourselves are much higher than they used to be.

Overwhelmed by this? Try one or some of these things to give yourself pause:

  • Take 10 deep breaths.
    • Try one of my favorite calming techniques: Breathe in for the count of 5, breathe out for the count of 6. Do this 10 times! If you can, increase the #s, always making the outbreath longer. It naturally calms the mind and resets the nervous system.
  • Get outside! (We tend to deprive ourselves of good ol’ Vitamin N-ature!)
  • Yoga;
  • Take a nap;
  • Read a book;
  • Go to a meeting;
  • Be of service. It will change your life.

Share with us: What do you do to take care of yourself in recovery?

Mental Health Mindfulness Recovery Self-Care Spirituality

Deepening Our Recovery With Yoga and Meditation

recovery |riˈkəvərē|


1. a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength;

2. the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. 

This Statue of Shiva (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we begin the process of recovery from various addictions, some may be surprised to find there are a number of approaches to recovery. This is promising. It means recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it means there is hope for those who may be having some difficulties finding their way. While some of us may solely lean on the 12 steps to create a foundation in recovery, others find they can also lean on the Eastern practices of yoga and meditation. The latter two provide a unique path for practitioners to compassionately look at themselves and develop the means to create a healing “space” within the mind and body. In this way, yoga and meditation encourage an internal healing, and ultimately nurture our minds and bodies toward a spiritual and physical recovery. These modalities cultivate recovery by using a most practical tool: the breath. “Our breath is portable,” says Sharon Salzberg, a renowned meditation teacher. No one can see it, touch it, or take it away from you. It is simple, yet powerful in its silence.

When we engage in our addictive behaviors, we disconnect from ourselves and from our bodies: I remember distinctly using so I didn’t have to feel. I sought to desensitize my mind, body and soul by means of drugs, alcohol, starvation and self-harming.  In sobriety, this behavior often continued with the transference of addictive behaviors, proving that the desire to nullify emotions or sensations is sometimes stronger than the desire to face them. Here’s where things like yoga and meditation are remarkable. They gently encourage you to come back to the present; to face the shadows; to embrace the often difficult process of recovery. This doesn’t mean you can or should ignore the 12 steps. Rather, yoga and meditation are what allow you to take the foundation you create with the steps to a deeper place. In this way, yoga and meditation facilitate our innate ability to undo the physical erosion created by our addictions.

I recently took a class with Seane Corn called “Yoga for a Broken Heart.” For an hour and a half, she addressed the physical manifestations of grief, compassionately leading us through the process of creating a healing space within our bodies with movement and breath. At one point, she said, “You can’t have light without the shadows.” How apropos for the recovering mind! It reminded me that none of us come into recovery without demons or shadows. We all have them, and we probably had them while we were using. In fact, how many of us used because of them? I know I did. Frankly, the sheer thought of turning to face them was abhorrent to me, and in the beginning, I did it with so much resistance, the shadows sometimes won. Truth be told, we come into recovery with an unspoken need to grieve. Modalities like yoga and meditation show us a way to create the space in our bodies to face that grief with compassion instead of anger and fear. Think of it this way: when we use, we disallow the grieving process by blocking it with “stuff.” Imagine what would happen if we gently removed that extraneous stuff and began to let it go. We can do that with these practices. We can allow what is to just be and we can let go of the things that are holding us back.

With yoga, we are graced with a set period of time where our breath takes precedence. We are afforded the opportunity to let go of the competitive mind and face the very thing we’ve been avoiding: ourselves. As we cultivate this space, we learn to give ourselves the love and attention we sought with our addictive behaviors. We begin to practice the art of forgiveness and become compassionate toward ourselves. We ultimately learn to find comfort in our skin, in our bodies, and in our minds. Through this process, we can and will find light in the shadows.

For more information, check out:

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention

Yoga for Addiction Recovery

Q & A With Tommy Rosen

Mindfulness and Meditation (weekly meetings)


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Heather Colligan, MA, LMFT, Latigo Program Director

For the last 9 years, Heather Colligan has championed the cause for healing and recovery for teens and families alike. Her commitment and dedication to the families that cross her path is truly remarkable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from alumni how invaluable Heather was in their lives while they were in treatment. One of the things that has always impressed me about Heather is her ability to remain soft in her approach while maintaining firmness in her convictions–she demonstrates what I like to call “fierce compassion.”  Heather is held in high regard by both clients and staff alike; she is proof that bringing heartfulness to the table when working with teens and their families is both an art and a gift. We are extremely fortunate to have her on our team and as part of the Visions family.


The staff really had some inspiring things to say:


“Heather puts her heart and soul into her work.  She is one of the most caring and dedicated people I’ve ever known, and Visions is lucky to have her.” Patrick Schettler

“It is hard to imagine Visions without her…so I won’t. What a composed professional and cool operator while in the thick of it. I remember being blown away the first time I sat in with her during an intense session. Never had I seen someone with so much compassion and clarity of purpose in tandem. She has the ability to show true kindness, navigate road blocks to therapeutic growth while remaining detached yet invested. What a tenacious advocate these kids have had in her over these many years.” Roger L’Hereault

“Heather is wonderful. Watching her work with our kids is great because she knows how to draw them out and make them realize what they are capable of. Even on her craziest and busiest days, Heather manages to keep it together and keep the Latigo house going. Heather is the foundation and heartbeat of Latigo.” Lianne Domingo

“I have known Heather since she arrived at Visions.  Always positive and quite funny, she has this delightful ability to laugh at her own foibles. This amazing quality continually helps me as well as the clients to release us from the unrealistic expectation monsters we impose on ourselves; Quite a gift!

Anyone that is around Heather recognizes her love of the color purple. Any art she has done with me is full of  wonderful shades of lavender, lilac, purple and plum. Purple is also the color of good judgment. It is the color of people seeking spiritual fulfillment. It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. And, she is aptly named, as Heather is a purple-flowered plant that grows abundantly on the Scottish moors.  It is beautiful and very tenacious  – definitely two of Heather’s qualities. Thank you, Heather, for your amazing gifts!  They have influenced us all.” — Susan “The Art Lady” O’Connor


And of course, Heather couldn’t escape our list of curious questions:


1. What inspired you to work with adolescents?

 I taught high school for years and I loved the teens, but many of them had other issues impacting their schooling, so I decided to get my next degree in counseling, so I could help in a different way.

 2. Cloth or disposable?

 Disposable of course!

 3. What’s your ideal vacation spot?

 Ski trip to Switzerland. Used to take school trips there as a kid. I loved it.

4. Funniest craving when you were carrying your son?

None, actually.

5. Guilty TV pleasure?


6. Optimist, Pessimist, or Realist?  


7. Anna Freud, Erik Erikson, or Jean Piaget?


8. Has becoming a parent changed your worldview?

Yes, I am even more aware that harmony is needed.

9. If you were a Muppet, who would you be?


10. Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I really enjoy seeing people change their lives and feel honored that families let me accompany them on their journey.

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Jennifer Garrett: NeXt Manager

Jennifer Garrett, better known as Jen G. around these parts, is one of our amazing success stories. A Visions alumni, she decided to come back and join the ranks as a Visions’ program aide in 2010. She endured the night shift,  transitioned to the much sought after day shift and eventually became a Recovery Mentor.  Jen is a remarkably strong individual, and her dedication to the clients and her co-workers is palpable. As Amanda says, Jen is the “quiet storm” at Visions—she’s remarkably shy and keeps to herself,  but her dedication and strength speaks for itself.  With the recent opening of  NeXt—our Adolescent Extended Care program, Jen was the ideal candidate to be promoted to NeXt Manager. We are beyond grateful to have Jen here at Visions, and are fortunate to have someone of her caliber on our team.

Check out what the staff had to say!!

“I remember working with Jen when she first came to us as a resident.  Jen was on point, really wanted to do the deal, and very much wanted to have a better life for herself.  I was thrilled when she got time under her belt and came back to work with us at Visions.  Some of Jen’s best qualities include her ability to roll with the punches, her ability to lead others, her insight, and her strength.  Jen is an amazing example of a woman in sobriety and I am so proud to count her as a peer and friend.” – Lianne Domingo

“She’s a quiet force at Visions…always reliable.” Christina Howard

“She is committed, loyal and has an incredible work ethic. She maintains composure during crisis and she’s solution oriented.  She maintains gratitude and fortitude in her endeavors.” – Fiona Ray

“Jen is an alumni of Visions who came back to give back to the clients.  She is a role model for the clients, and a steady example of a woman in recovery.  After working as a program aide, she moved up to help open and run the extended care facility.  Always conscientious, Jen makes sure that the clients know they are cared for.  Thanks, Jen, for a great few years! We are proud to have you as part of the team.” – Amanda and Chris Shumow

Check out Jen’s illustrious answers to our curious questions:

1: What is your guilty television pleasure?

American Idol or Animal Cops: Houston — I have every episode recorded.

2: Favorite late-night LA hangout?

If I am ever hanging out anywhere late anymore I guess it would have to be Cacao coffee house on Santa Monica Blvd and Federal.

 3: Describe yourself in 3 words.

Strong, independent, big-hearted.

 4. Coffee or Tea?


5. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done yet?


6. What song do you sing when you’re alone in the car?

“Free Falling”- Tom Petty or “Watching You” by Brad Paisley.

7. What’s your favorite charity?


8. Favorite season?


9. Would you rather climb a tree or read a book?

 Climb a tree.

10. Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I choose to work for Visions because it is rewarding not only for myself but for many others as well. Although some days can be difficult and met with resistance, the days you get to see the light come on in others’ eyes as it did for myself is so worth it. I have fun at work and love what I do. Not to mention, I love everyone on the team and appreciate all the hard work everyone does to make Visions the best environment to work in.

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Roger L’Hereault, BA, Program Aide Supervisor

Roger L’Hereault has been an integral part of the Visions Team for the last 10 years.  He has a deep dedication to creating a safe and healthy space for clients to begin their path to recovery and has been responsible for building the fundamental internal infrastructure for the staff to follow. Roger is not only incredibly professional, he does so with great integrity and aplomb.This also means he sometimes has to don the “bad guy” role, but alas, he does so without falling into the negative follies so often seen in a position like this.  The wonderful thing about Roger is: he can do the dirty work of maintaining boundaries and holding the rest of us responsible for doing the same, but still manage to smile, make a joke, and ultimately endear himself to the staff and clients alike. Pretty cool! It turns out that Roger is also quite a talented musician!

Don’t listen to me, though, read the amazing comments from the staff:

Roger is very detail-oriented, a fixer of problems and quite funny at times as well. — Heather Colligan

“I dread to think about what Visions would be like without Roger.  His calm, respectful, professional management style is the reason his staff holds him in extremely high regard.  His expertise in the field is a major contributing factor to our pristine record of resident safety.  Roger is the one we call in to deal with very difficult situations.  He gladly makes himself the “bad guy” when we have to enforce rules and structure.  Despite this, he never emerges shaken, angry, or resentful.  He is a sage source for the entire staff, from program aides to clinicians.” –- Troy Matthews

“I sometimes wonder if Roger is half-man, half-machine. Not only is he a natural leader, he has a superhuman amount of patience, and he is always looking for creative ways to make the Visions experience better. Did I mention he shreds on the saxophone?” — Patrick Schettler

“Roger… what can we say about the man who keeps us in line!  He is the creator of almost all of the policies and procedures that help Visions keep our kids and staff safe.  He is calm and steady during the most hectic of times.  Roger’s loyalty and dedication has always been appreciated, and we know that he always has the clients’ best interests at heart.  He has been with us almost from the beginning, and without him, we would likely not have been able to grow as gracefully as we have.  One of the things I love most about Roger is his sense of humor at unexpected times. Roger’s consistency makes him one of our key players at Visions.” –- Amanda and Chris Shumow

And without further adieu, let’s see how Roger answered our bevy of questions:

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

Carpenter or rock star.

2: How many instruments do you play?

I play 5 instruments: Voice,Saxophone, Clarinet, Guitar, Bass.

3: Favorite genre of music?

British rock: The Who to PJ Harvey.

4: Are you a landlubber or sea dog?

Land guy for sure. Ancestors were farmers so I never had a chance.

5: Introvert or extrovert?

I naturally walk the line of both but more of an extrovert the older I get.

6: Favorite comic book hero?

I suppose Batman. He was a heavy hitter without having a superpower. The guy had guts.

7: What’s your secret power?

If I speak of my superpower it ceases to exist so I’ll refrain. Rest assured it is awesome in the true meaning of the word.

8: Favorite place to relax in Los Angeles?

My favorite cigar bar or really anywhere I’m playing music.

9: Describe yourself in 3 words.

Spontaneous, Pragmatic, Creative.

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I choose to continue to work for Visions because its mission and objectives align with my own beliefs. Love, open-mindedness and family communication are some of those shared values.

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JuliAnn Crommelin: Alumni Coordinator and Counselor

JuliAnn Crommelin truly understands the treatment process.  As a Visions alumni, she is a shining example of what is possible in recovery.  For the last 6 years, JuliAnn has dedicated her life to helping others. She is kind, compassionate, and able to meet the clients and their families on a deeply empathetic level. It’s a pleasure to witness her growth. JuliAnn began working for Visions as a program aide but she quickly became a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor, and eventually took on the role of Outreach Coordinator on the Marketing team. Quite honestly, JuliAnn is the perfect person to share with others the benefits and value of the Visions program! As you can see, there is no shortage of kind words from the staff, either:

“I was told that in order to represent something well you have to believe in it with your entire being.  JuliAnn is just that…an image of passion and enthusiasm that lives and breathes the essence of Visions.  It has been an honor working side by side with her, sharing the common mission of reaching out to support teens & families.  If you have not had the chance to meet JuliAnn, please take a moment to watch this: Visions Teen Interview with JuliAnn.  Kindly, Christina Howard”

“JuliAnn is the most positive person I’ve ever met. Seriously.” – Joseph Rogers

“Incredibly poised, insightful, and wise beyond her years! She is an amazing role model.” Heather Colligan

It’s been a pleasure watching JuliAnn’s progression expand from client to program aide to counselor and eventually to alumni coordinator and marketing. JuliAnn has continued to grow into an amazing part of the Visions team.  We often brag to tours about her because she is truly an example of someone who works hard and continues to put one foot in front of the other and gets results!  We can always count on her to be a consistent person for the clients at Visions to talk to.  She is just the right touch of tough love and compassion, always keeping the client’s best interests at heart.  We are grateful for her work ethic and loyalty.  She is truly a leader and we cannot wait to see what she can accomplish next! – Amanda and Chris Shumow

Of course, JuliAnn had to answer a few questions from us as well. As you can see, her passion for what she does is everywhere:

1. What is your greatest accomplishment thus far?

My greatest accomplishment thus far is being a person that my family is proud of.  My little sister tells me all the time how she looks up to me and how I am a guiding role in her life.   It continually baffles me because for so long I was a bad influence on her and probably not someone she would ever want to be like and now she calls and asks me for advice.  That is something I never expected to happen.

2. Your favorite movie?

My favorite movie is Elf with Will Ferrell. Or probably any other comedy he is in.

3. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?

If I could do anything in the world I would want to open an animal sanctuary for abused or neglected animals that paired each animal with an abused or neglected kid, so the animal and kid can do the healing work together.

4. Would you rather sail the sea or climb to the top of Mount Everest?

I would rather sail the sea, even though I get sea sick.

 5. Cake or pie?

Anything chocolate….or red velvet.

6. What’s your favorite book and why?

The Hunger Games series and the Harry Potter series, they are both so captivating and have every element you could want in a book: romance, mystery, violence, etc.

7. Katniss or Hermione?

Katniss, I find her commitment to her anger amusing.

8. What would you say to your teenage self if you knew what you knew now?

I would tell my teenage self to breathe, chill out, get involved in yoga, horseback ride while you still can and write a gratitude list.  Your life is not as hard as you think it is.

9. What inspires you?

I am inspired by anyone that does good in the world.  There is a lot of hurt, sadness, homelessness and greed but there are also a lot of good-hearted people who are willing to help and make things better.

10. Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I initially chose to work for Visions because I wanted to help other teens who are as lost and confused as I was.  I continue to work at Visions because I know that by doing this I am helping save lives and families.  Every kid that is helped here can go out and touch that many more lives.  My hope is that we are all creating a ripple effect of love and healing that will continue to spread.

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Daniel Dewey – Teacher/Residential Director of Education

Daniel Dewey has been with us from the very beginning, nurturing Visions during the early days of its burgeoning development and creating a safe space for learning and academic achievement within our residential facilities. Daniel works to create academic stability for incoming clients, whose education has fallen to the wayside. Setting up educational plans and creating that type of stability works to not only create confidence in the parents, but in the students as well. There is an element of kindness that permeates everything Daniel does, whether it’s working with students, talking to the staff, or being a parent to his son. He’s an inspiration to all who cross his path. We’re lucky to have him with us. Happy 10 years, Daniel. Thank you for everything you do!

Our staff weren’t shy in their expressions of appreciation either:

“Calm, caring gentle presence.” – Heather Colligan

“Daniel is without a doubt one of the most unflappable people I’ve ever met.  His kindness is a constant that clearly is the cloth from which he is woven.  I’ve never met a former student of Daniel’s who hasn’t spoken of him with respect and great fondness.  Visions is fortunate to have such a caring and warm educator. I also hear he’s a wicked dancer.” – Joseph Rogers

“What can I say, other than that Daniel really is the heart of Visions.  He’s an institution around here.  He’s been here forever, but even after all this time there is never a day that he doesn’t give his all for the kids.  Daniel is one of these guys you can’t not like.  He is one of best people to work with, nay, best people to know. He is a model of genuine compassion and good works.   I have been incredibly blessed to have him as a mentor and a friend.    Just, please, don’t ask him to dance, for all of our sake.” – Troy Matthews

“Daniel has been with us before we even had clients…or the hope of clients! 🙂 Over the years, he has been one of the vertebrae of Visions.  His quiet strength and patience has helped us grow and change and change again into the program that we are today.  We are most thankful for his ability to teach kids that thought they were “unteachable.”  We can’t tell you how many times we have heard that Daniel was the first teacher that ever “got” them to learn and inspired them to not only finish high school, but to go to college.  When we call parents to check in, Daniel’s name is usually followed by glowing reports of professionalism, kindness and knowledge.  We have often come into the facility and gone directly to Daniel to figure out exactly where the clients are emotionally.   Although he is not a clinician, he always has his finger on the pulse of what is going on with them. We can’t imagine what the past 10 years at Visions would have been like without Daniel Dewey.”  – Amanda and Chris Shumow

Without further adieu, let’s see what Daniel had to say when we asked him a few curious questions:

1. Favorite genre of music?

Classic Rock if I had to narrow it down. I love most all genres of music except modern country and Dubstep.

2. Chalk or dry-erase?

I’m Old School in many ways, but I appreciate the convenience of dry-erase.

3. Favorite poet?


4. If you could invent something, what would it be?

A time machine so I could visit exotic times and places throughout history..

5. What inspires you to teach?

Sounds corny, but it’s the kids and the hope that they’ll change their lives and make this world a livable place when they get older.

6. Favorite thing about Los Angeles?

Central to the mountains and the beach and a great culinary selection.

7. Webster’s, Random House, or Oxford?


8. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional athlete; probably a quarterback or a pitcher.

9. How does your son inspire you?

He inspires me to give him a better life than I had and he keeps me out of trouble (most of the time).

10. Why do you choose to work for Visions?

It’s my addictive personality. Visions gives me the opportunity to work in a small group setting so I feel like I have some impact on the kids. The people here are cool too.

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Garth LeMaster, MA, LMFT – Outpatient Therapist

Garth Lemaster is precisely the type of person you want around in a crisis: he’s level-headed, straightforward, respectful, and honest. He shows up when he says he will and he always gives his heart and soul to his work. Garth is one of those therapists the kids seek out for their check-ins, and as a result, he spends the majority of his time at Visions session. It’s also not unusual to see Garth helping out with the day-to-day operations of Outpatient and the Day School, which shows how much of a team player he really is. Since 2007, Garth has been a wonderful source of goodwill for all of us at Visions; we are lucky to have him as part of our treatment team. I really can’t say enough kind things about Garth and neither could the staff:

“Garth is an amazing person!  His patient and calm demeanor is unparalleled.  It takes a lot to rattle Garth’s nerves…on occasion I try simply for entertainment (I know, it’s terrible) but I end up giving in before he does.  This way about him is reflected in his approach with the kids he works with as well.  His ability to listen is one among many and I’ve witnessed the lives that he has touched as a result.  Garth is one of those people who “so rocks” and has no idea!” —  Love Always, Natalie (IOP Staff Member and huge fan of Garth!)

“Garth is the quiet warrior of our team.  Families always know that Garth will be there with kind words, thoughtful insight and strength.  He meets his clients where they are, and he helps them find their inner strength in therapy.  We respect Garth and I, over the years, have found myself in Garth’s office when overwhelmed or in need of advice, always getting what I need as a co worker. Parents tell us that Garth is solely responsible for the change in both their lives and the lives of their teens. He would likely scoff at this and respond back that the family did the work, but Garth truly led the way.  Patrick says it best when he says that Garth is a ‘therapy ninja’!!  Thank you, Garth, for being an anchor at our outpatient location.” — Amanda Shumow

“If I had to pick someone from work to team up with on Survivor, I would pick Garth. The thing I love about Garth is his quality of character. He has an integrity that can be counted on. I’ve had the privilege to really watch him blossom as a therapist over the last 5 years, and I really appreciate the work that he does. He genuinely cares about the families and kids he works with. He is respectful and I greatly enjoy our occasional  political détente in the mornings—and while we don’t always agree, I love that he always listens and genuinely has care and concern for people.” — Joseph Rogers

“Garth is quiet strength for the kids.  Now, to get him to paint with us…!  –  Susan O’ Conner who’s best known as “The Art Lady.”

And without further adieu, let’s hear Garth’s answers to some of our curious questions:

1.  If you had wings where would you go?

The Hotel Caruso in Italy.

2.  Favorite restaurant in Los Angeles?

IN N OUT: Double-double combo, hold the “animal,” I’m just a regular guy. 

3.  Last movie you watched in the theater?

The Gray.

4.  Favorite song to play on your guitar?

“Over the Hills and Far Away.”

5.  Have you watched any episodes of The Real Housewives on Bravo?

I’m proud to say no.

6.  What was your High School Mascot?

A wildcat.

7.  What is the best present you ever received?


8.  Soup or Salad?


9.  Best word to describe your personality?


10.  Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I like helping kids, but I do so at Visions because the team is so good. It’s a really good place to work.

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John Lieberman: Director of Operations

From the beginning, John Lieberman has been an integral part of the fabric that makes up Visions. In 2002, he came to us as a consultant, recruiting, doing outreach, and helping develop the initial building blocks which make Visions what it is now. After two years, John came on full-time and he’s never left. It’s hard to describe exactly what John does, because in truth, he does so much–if you were to ask him, he would divert you elsewhere!  The fact is, he is the first supportive face a desperate parent sees when they reach out for help. John is the initial guiding light that allows a scared, hopeless family to walk through one of the hardest periods in their lives: deciding to send their child to treatment and everything that entails. John does this with respect, compassion, and kindness; he is the one that makes sure the hand of Visions is always there for families, regardless of what stage of treatment they’re in.

But, the staff’s accolades really say it all:

Joseph Rogers, our Educational Director at our Outpatient Day School said, “John is a consistent person I turn to whenever someone comes to me with a family member or friend in crises.  I can always count on his ability to calmly help me find a solid resource when people need it most.  I feel John would be the kind of person I would most want with me when absolutely everything fell apart.

Christina Howard, our Director of Business Development had this to say: “Three words that best describe John Lieberman: Loyal, Dedicated and Passionate.  John’s drive to provide exemplary care for each and every family at Visions continually pushes the growth and depth of our clinical services.  His love for socks also make him extremely fashionable.”

Chris and Amanda Shumow placed their trust in John ten years ago. Their gratitude is endless: “What can I say about a man who has literally saved thousands of lives.  John has been an amazing partner, example of recovery and most of all one of our best friends.  John’s dedication is unparalleled.  Day or night, he is available to the staff and families at Visions.  He cares about each and every person that touches his life and tries to get them the help they need with us or somewhere else.  With over 20 years in the business of mental health and substance abuse, John has the experience and knowledge to make a difference.  To ask John about his job, he would say that he does community outreach, marketing, intake, crisis management, human resources, is a group home administrator….and may even plunge the toilet when necessary ;).  John sets the example of what it means to be humble and gracious no matter what he takes on.  Visions would not have the reputation it has without John Lieberman.

Hear what John had to say when we threw some wacky questions his way!

1.  If Chewbacca from Star Wars was your Best Friend where would you meet him for     lunch this weekend?

I would meet Chewbacca at Animal restaurant.

2.  Cats or Dogs?


3.  “Early Bird Gets the Worm” or “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”?

The slow ones get eaten first.

4.  If you won the Miss America pageant what would you wish for?

World peace.

5.  What was the last song you were listening to?

Mumford and Sons “Little Lion Man”

6.  How do you like your steak?


7. Favorite memory with your granddaughter?










8. Coffee or Tea?


9. What was your best Halloween costume?

Dressed up like a pimp with the Shumows

10. What does Visions mean to you?

Visions is what dreams are made of! Almost from the day I got sober I wanted to be able to give back the love, fun and acceptance that was shown to me. The treatment center I went through made me feel safe. Visions is a safe place for families and their kids.

Body Image Eating Disorders Mental Health Recovery

Recovery: Living With ED

Being in recovery from an eating disorder isn’t a finite thing. There are days when the disordered thoughts may come rushing in, triggered by outside sources . There may be times where our body dysmorphia gets the upper hand and we can’t discern reality from our own delusion.  There also may be times when we find ourselves in a relationship with someone who’s at the tipping point of their own eating disorder. Typically, these types of circumstances are not emotionally safe, but in many ways,  they provide opportunities to engage in the practice of self-care: Ask for help, and whenever possible, walk away.

Eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors are tricky: the risk of sliding is always there, because, well, we HAVE to eat. Our bodies require the fuel, the love, and the dedicated care that feeding ourselves provides. But even in recovery with days, months, or even years of abstinence, there may be some rough days where we may get off track. The trick there is, do you have enough tools in your recovery tool box to ask for help and stop ED in its tracks?

Recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating is a process. It’s an exercise in letting go of control and learning to trust those in your circle of support instead of the distorted voices of irrationality.  You may find that the practice of self-care will be the pièce de résistance in your recovery. Eventually, we discover that we are eating because we are being kind to ourselves. We are eating because we deserve to be healthy. When we feed ourselves,  we are taking care of this incredible body that we get to hang out in.

Here are some ways to practice healthy self care (adapted from this list from NEDA):

  • Remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. There is not “right” way to look.
  • Celebrate all of the amazing things your body can do, like: breathe, run, jump, laugh, dream!
  • Keep a top 10 list of things you like about yourself that are NOT related to the way you look or how much you weigh.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. .
  • Use positive affirmations when the negative internal tapes start playing. You can even place post-its with positive affirmations on them in strategic places: like on your mirrors!
  • Wear clothes that are comfortable. In other words, work with your body, not against it.
  • Take care of yourself: get a manicure, go on a hike, take a bubble bath, read a good book.
  • Schedule some “do nothing” time so you can recharge.
  • Be mindful of your media intake and the messages you receive. Pay attention to messages that make you feel bad about yourself. Say something and maybe you can effect some change!
  • Be of service. Helping others gets us out of ourselves and into service. This is another way to make some positive changes.

As we continue down this path of recovery, our care for ourselves will allow us to care for those around us. We are so much more than our outsides.

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

National Association for Males with Eating Disorders

International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals

Eating Disorders Coalition

Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders Resource Center

Voice in Recovery