Adolescence Education Mental Health Recovery Treatment

The Benefits of Blending School and Treatment

There is tremendous value in blending school and treatment. Many clients come to us

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having fallen off-track in their education as a result of substance abuse and mental health issues. There may also be undiagnosed learning disabilities that need to be addressed. Falling grades and school pressure can create another layer of stress and panic for a teen. When an adolescent comes to treatment, it is our responsibility to provide them with both treatment and educational support that fosters an environment of safety and encouragement around learning and healing. At the same time, providing school and treatment simultaneously allows us to notice where an adolescent needs extra support so we can provide that client with adequate educational and clinical support.


I looked to Daniel Dewey, our Residential Director of Education, and Joseph Rogers, our Educational Coordinator at our Outpatient Day School for some insight and perspective, particularly since they each see both sides of the education/treatment pendulum. Daniel sees our clients from their initial point of treatment, while Joseph spends time with our clients during their aftercare process. Both of them promote and create foundational pieces to add to the bedrock of an adolescent’s recovery; they invite curiosity about learning, provide support during times of difficulty, and provide individualized methods of teaching to facilitate and nurture a healthy outlook on education.


Daniel gave me some wonderful insight when he said, “School is important for treatment success; when a resident can stay on track (or in many cases gets back on track) they will have a stronger foundation for their aftercare. School can be a big stressor, so if school can work with treatment, we feel residents will be better equipped to leave Visions and follow their academic path. Additionally, doing well in school tends to be a source of self-esteem for adolescents.  We want our clients to feel good about learning. Many of our clients come into treatment hopeless. It is our goal to help them see the intrinsic value in education and to guide them toward a meaningful life.”


Joseph gave us similar insights, which also help identify the continuum that occurs with school and treatment. He said,  “The practical piece of joining treatment and education is having the benefit of rolling enrollment – clients can enroll at any time, increasing their opportunities of getting back on track. Additionally, students may not be emotionally able or prepared to go back into a normalized educational setting. Having them in a setting that is therapeutically structured for their safety gives them the chance to practice their new behaviors before they go back to their regular school, and because we have clinicians on staff, we can react to and notice a change in behavior quickly and effectively.”


We understand the importance of creating a therapeutically alive and nourishing environment for our clients and their families. Placing school in the treatment arena allows us to support our clients at optimum levels, and it provides a multi-level aspect to the healing process. Blending school and treatment from the residential and outpatient perspective is a necessary stone in the path to wellness. It is beneficial to the adolescent, building confidence and self-esteem, and it is advantageous for parents to see their children simultaneously succeed in their education and in their substance abuse and mental health treatment.

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Celebrating Amanda Shumow!

It’s hard not to get excited about Visions when you talk to Amanda Shumow. She is passionate, dedicated and inspired by the Visions’ staff, the clients, and the work as a whole. Amanda Shumow is the co-founder of Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers. She holds a Master’s Degree in psychology, a CDAAC, and she is currently working toward her Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD).  Her dedication to furthering her own education is matched with her encouragement of others to do the same. Everything Amanda does is in the best interest of helping teens.


Amanda initially worked with adults in treatment at Promises, but she quickly realized she wanted to direct her energies toward working with kids. It became clear to her that what she had to offer adults was much different than what she could offer kids. Amanda said, “When I was a teen, if someone had asked me ‘Do you have a problem with drugs,’ I would have said, ‘yes.’ I wish there was something like Visions when I was young.” It was this realization and awareness that drew her to work with teens and start building Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers with her husband, Chris Shumow.


She is the mother of four amazing children, wife to Chris Shumow, and deeply involved with all aspects of what makes Visions tick. When I asked Amanda about the Visions culture, she said, “We are humble about a lot of things we do, but we are not humble about the staff. We have the best team. The Visions culture is like nothing else. If people love what they do, they do whatever it takes to make things work. Everyone here has deep dedication.”


When I interviewed Amanda for this piece, the conversation we had was rich with passion and love for what everyone on this team does. She said, “We provide a high level of mental health care: for example, we’ve recently integrated DBT training for all staff. Don’t underestimate someone’s magic.” She’s right. Yes, we encourage fun, and revel in team building activities, but we are deeply serious about the level of care we provide our clients. We understand the need for jocularity, because nothing opens the heart like a healthy belly laugh, but our foundation is built on recognizing the intrinsic value and need for deep work.


I asked Amanda to name some of the things she really loves about the Visions culture and the team she’s help build. She said, “Having things like Glamping – that’s bonding. I have found a place where people fall in love with the work they do. It’s also where the ‘least likely to succeed’ come back to work, and that’s inspiring!” She shared this quote from a client, and frankly, I think it sums up the magic that Visions holds, “This is the first group of people who loved me because they want to, not because they have to.”  Amanda, you are the matriarch of a magnificent program, providing a gift of hope, healing, and love.


Read on for some quotes for the staff.


“It’s hard to be in a bad mood around Amanda. Her energy is contagious in every way. She’s one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, I can only hope to a little bit like her. She’s taught me so much about working in this industry and more importantly how to maintain a sense of humor and not lose yourself. She’s our fearless leader and we wouldn’t change it for anything!” – Ashley Harris


“There are so many great things to say about Amanda but I guess to keep it short and sweet and not go on and on and on I would have to go with this…. From what I have been blessed to experience with Amanda is that she is a very kind and generous soul. Always willing to help out and do what she can for others even with a full plate of her own. She is truly the best boss I have had the pleasure of working for. She’s always there to support all the staff in crises mode or silly mode. She keeps the work environment safe but most importantly fun!! She is an inspiration and a role model.”  Jennifer Garrett


“Amanda is a rockstar!! She has such a wonderful personality that draws you in.  She knows how to talk to the residents in a relaxed manner while still holding boundaries and keeping them in line. She has been a wonderful and understanding employer and to me that is so important!! How she balances running Visions and raising her 4 children I will never know.” Amy Lawhorn


“I think Amanda’s greatest gift to Visions families and staff is her realness.  She has the unique ability to turn a serious work related question into a “your mom” joke, and it never gets old.” Patrick Schettler


“I love this woman for so many different reasons.  She is a genius to start.  Her brilliant ideas start out as giant dreams that come true because of who she is a human being.  Amanda’s core beliefs in hard work, family and fun are just a few building blocks she has implemented into Visions’ moral code.  As a woman who gets to work for a spectacular woman I am grateful for her leadership inside and outside the office.  Her passion for impromptu dance parties reminds me of the meaning of life.  Amanda is all business with a gigantic heart that will never grow up!” Christina Howard


Amanda may be the most intelligent person I know. Being around her quick wit, incredible memory, sincerity, fun and compassion makes everyone want to be the best they can.  A constant reminder that there are authentic, good people in the world. – Mie Kaneda


It has been my pleasure to have worked with Amanda for almost twelve years. She is always an abundance of energy and highly unpredictable but consistently keeps the best interest of our kids in mind. – Bill Hoban


1: Roller skates or blades?


2: In three words, describe your passion for kids:

Love, laughter, hope


3: If you were in the circus, what would your specialty be?



4: Favorite song…ever.

Could not even begin to list them, I have one for every genre in every decade…seriously.


5: What do you do for self-care?

Watch really, really bad reality TV and go to Vegas as much as possible.


6: What is your greatest accomplishment thus far?

My family and my relationship with my husband.


7: What makes your heart sing?

My kids, slot machines.


8: If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

Nelson Mandela

9:  What makes you laugh?

My kids, and everyone at work. I have a pretty adolescent sense of humor and so does everyone we work with, so it gets loud and crazy sometimes.

10: How does Visions Inspire you?

Everyday in every way. From kids to staff, we have daily moments that connect us and drive me to do better and do more. Almost every decision we (I) have made in the past 11 years has been inspired by Visions!

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Sarit Rogers, New Media Manager

Sarit Rogers is Visions’ very own Woman of Words – Our Billowing Blogger, Lady of Language and Sorceress of Social Media.  She officially joined the V-Team in 2010 and found her stride as our new Media Manager.  We had an idea of what we wanted her to structure, but could not dream of the ways she would use her innovation to build upon the face of Visions in today’s digital world.

With her permission, I’d like to give her a big shout out on 20 years of sobriety today!!!  Every Blog, Tweet and Post is driven from an innate desire to help others find a life of health and happiness.  Sarit’s raw, candid and unbiased way of writing continues to inspire our team and many more readers across the world.

She is a passionate mother to one very cool kid, is wife to Visions’ Mr. Rogers and is the loving owner of her pup, LuLu.  Sarit is a creative activist at heart.  Inspiring others with her writings, photography and yoga practice, she is constantly looking to help others find the authentic beauty of the inner self.

Collaborating on our Staff Blogs has been one of my favorite jobs to create with Sarit.  We have had a ton of fun letting our readers know who the masterminds are that make Visions what it is.  Sarit has allowed us to see how much we are valued amongst our peers…now it is time for her to feel the same:

Christina Howard

“Like her on Facebook, retweet her, snapchat about it, #JustSarit is anything but ‘just’ our New Media Manager.  She has a great artistic eye and has been instrumental in transforming our web content.  This recognition is long overdue!” –Patrick Schettler

“What comes across so clearly to me in Sarit’s writing is that she genuinely cares.  She is passionate in her desire to help others, the embodiment of compassion in action.  Visions is blessed to have such a talented writer who can produce well-researched, thoughtful, and timely articles.  But what really comes across in her writing is a lifetime of personal transformation that has brought her to a place of deep understanding and hope.” – Joseph Rogers

“Besides Sarit being the realest & funniest person at Visions, she’s the most sincere & caring.  Whenever I have the chance to be around her, I make sure I get my daily dose of Sarit.”  – Janette Duran

“Sarit is one of the smartest, kindest ladies I know!  Not only has she helped me post photos from 6,000 miles away on facebook when I was Paris and I couldn’t figure it out, but she was able to get me back on icloud after my kids signed on incorrectly so many times that we were locked out, for life it seemed.  Apple tech support couldn’t understand why we were not able to get back with their help at the Genius Bar!…but Sarit fixed it via a few texts.  She is just awesome.” – Colleen Kelly, PhD

“Sarit is amazing, special, talented, loving, strong, fearless, kind and so much more!  She possesses a positive and loving spirit/energy.  It’s felt the moment you meet her!  All that cross her path are blessed and feel inspired by her greatness!”  – Jennifer Werber

“Sarit is our beautiful wordsmith who makes someone like me, who is known for potty language and poor punctuation, sound like a poet! Sarit is awesome, always thinking of ways to put our Vision out to words, pictures, facebook posts and blogs. She is willing to show up to events to “live tweet” and is always active when there are shows on that discuss issues we deal with in treatment.  She brings Visions’ ideas out into the world of social media. Sarit is not only our social media manager, but also an amazing photographer and….wait for it….married to JRO another one of the Visions family members! She is a wonderful mother and we are always grateful for Sarit’s take on our business planning meetings! Thanks for all you do!” – Amanda Shumow

Let’s Break into this creative mind with our pondering 10 questions:

1.Favorite Song of all time and why?

“Sympathy For the Devil,” Rolling Stones. Musically, it’s multi-layered and interesting.  Lyrically,  it remains one of those songs that is simply timeless. It’s feisty, political, and it illuminates the fact that we all have a dark side within each of us. I’ve loved it every since I was a tot.

2.  Frog pose or tree pose?

Definitely tree pose. It’s nice to be able to find balance and strength physically and mentally.

3.  What would you like to find at the end of a rainbow?

Aside from the elusive pot of gold? A nice cup of tea and warm, stripey socks.

4.  Best thing about being a MOM?

Watching my son experience the world. It’s incredible to see how he loves others without judgment, shows compassion with ease, thinks outside of the box, and is comfortable being who is is. Now if I could just get him to come back to his senses and stop listening to Nicki Minaj…

5.  Who’s a stronger woman…Wonder Woman, Shera or Oprah?

Wonder Woman, hands down. She’s a warrior fighting for justice, equality, love, peace–with sass!  Oh, and I’ve always liked DC comics.

6.  Cookies or Cake?

Sigh. These days, I’d have to say cookies. Gluten Free cake usually tastes like a sweet rock.

7.  Best thing about being married to Mr.Rogers?

One thing? Really? Okay: He’s FunnyIntelligentKindGentleImaginativeMybestfriend

8.  What paints a better picture…Writing or Photography?

Hm. A good writer can paint a picture tantamount to a good photograph if they have  a thesaurus and one hell of an imagination. They are both equal to me but for different reasons. My pen and my camera are extensions of myself.

As my favorite photographer, Ruth Bernhard once said, “Light is my inspiration, my paint and brush.”

9.  What do you want to be when you grow up?


10.  Why do you work for Visions?

Many, many reasons. We offer something that was barely in existence when I was getting sober. To work for a company that has made helping teens and their families through one of their darkest times is a blessing for which I am truly grateful. Every word I write, every tweet, and every FB post is an act of being of service and extending the familial arm of the Visions’ family. And I get to do it in my yoga pants.



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Jennifer Werber, Business Manager

Jennifer Werber is our wonderful Business Manager who joined us after Stan retired. Those were a pretty large pair of shoes to step into, but it was evident Jennifer, who we love to call Jenny, was going to do it in her own style. What I really admire about her is the fact that she didn’t really step into old shoes; she came in wearing her own and did so without upsetting the equilibrium of the staff. It takes great skill and compassion to do such a thing. The first time I met Jenny, it felt like I’d known her my whole life. Everything she does, whether it’s answering a question about insurance or a question about payroll, or simply looking into something for someone, she does it with a sense of calm, understanding, professionalism, and kindness. She’s an amazing woman and one whom I’m glad to know and work with. We have an extraordinary team at Visions, and Jenny is a perfect addition and wonderful part of the Visions family. Think I’m kidding? Read on. The staff completely agrees with me. Oh, and Jenny, I want those caramel, Oreo thingamabobs!


“Incredibly intelligent and personable! She adds a fun dimension to the Visions team. Jenny also makes the most incredible desserts such as caramel, Oreo fudge brownies!!!!!”– Mie Keneda


“This is one of those moments where I don’t even know where to begin. Jenny has a kind heart, and a wise soul. This woman is extraordinary in every single way. She brightens up the office with her smile and great sense of humor. It’s rare to find someone so giving and selfless in this world. She is a rare gem and honestly whatever else I say about her, words don’t her justice.” – Janette Duran


“Where do I even start?! Jenny is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. She’s such a great addition to the Visions’ family. Her drive and dedication is almost scary sometimes- I’m convinced she’s a superwoman. Jenny keeps us sane. I’m so happy to be able to call her a coworker and most of all a friend. Love you, Jenny!”  — Ashley Harris


“Jenny stepped into some big shoes. We are fortunate to have her. She is kind, considerate, and has a maternal quality. She always brings in delicious food and genuinely cares about the employees at Visions. I’m not sure how we made it this far without her. The shoes fit.” – Daniel Dewey


“Jenny!  We are so happy to have Jenny’s experience and patience (not to mention her amazing desert-making skills) on the team.  We had considered ourselves a small-time operation for so many years that we had no idea the amount of work Jenny was walking into.  She has spent 6 days a week trying to straighten us out; we truly appreciate her for that and so many other reasons.  She is so funny and tries not to laugh when we are really pushing the limits on “proper” office etiquette. We (ok maybe not Chris) are sure that when Jenny has a year with us, she will finally jump on the Friday afternoon dance parties held at Mulholland :).  Thank you for all you do, Jenny.  We look forward to the next stage of Visions with you as one of the anchors!”  — Amanda Shumow


And the quintessential piece to these blogs: those pesky 10 questions! Keep reading!


1: Are you a coffee or tea kind of gal?

Neither.  I don’t like coffee or tea.  I drink mostly water and diet soda.

2: What’s the one thing guaranteed to make you laugh with utter abandon?

My nephews off the wall antics or comments … OR Amanda and Ashley Harris’ acts of random silliness!

3: How would you describe your perfect day?  

Start it off with relaxation, tranquility, somewhere tropical … continue and end it with loved ones, lots of fun, lots of laughs, good music, good food…

4: What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you come close?

Initially, I wanted to be and Astronaut.  Definitely did not come close to that!  By the age of 9-10, I wanted to be a Sr. VP in Marketing for the NBA.  I guess I did get somewhat closer to this, as I spent 6 years working within the NBA for the Los Angeles Clippers!  However, it was not in Marketing.  I never throught I would end up in Finance and Human Resources.

5: Are you more right or left brained?

That is tough!  Honestly, I think I have characteristics of both.  But I think I definitely have more left brain traits and characteristics.

6: Clippers or Lakers?

Another tough one … I grew up a Laker fan, but working with the Clippers for six years definitely created a Clipper fan.

7: What inspires you?

Love, kindness, creativity, art, culture, people …

8: What three things do you look for on others? What three things do you strive for in yourself?

In others:  respect, honesty, loyalty  I strive for:  Probably the same, but more than anything I strive to be better every day and learn from my successes and failures.

9: What flower describes your personality?

Maybe a Sunflower?  But, I also love lilies (Casablanca and Calla).  The sunflower reflects warmth and openness to me, but the Lily represents sophistication, strength and perhaps some mystery to me …

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

The opportunity for professional growth within an organization that believed in me, and supported me, was definitely one of my top reasons for joining the Visions Team.   However, to be a part of an organization that believes in what they do with all of their heart and soul, touches so many people’s lives, believes in their team, are proud of their team’s accomplishments, and supports / recognizes the people who make it happen every day is what sold me!

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Mie Kaneda, Counselor, CADC

Mie Kaneda is one of our magnificent CD counselors and licensed CADCs  who also happens to be a California native. Mie is a remarkable ball of energy and service: she has a background in gymnastics as well as personal training. She currently spends her time at our residential facility but can also be found at our outpatient facility working with clients  or training folks at Burn 60. Mie is facilitates groups in addition to meeting with individual clients and also helped start the Teen Love group aimed to support teens struggling with love addiction.  Mie loves to use movement with the clients to get them back into their bodies and show them how much fun they can have in recovery. In her youthful, spunky way, Mie imbibes her recovery and the recovery of others with joyful fire.


As always, the Visions family has wonderful things to say about Mie, so please read on: 


“Mie is the most upbeat spirited counselor I know. She is always willing to help out in all areas! She’s taught me so much as a counseling intern. Thank you!” – Chloe Huerta

“Mie has a great energy about her! It’s that same positive energy that glows in her work when it comes to our kids in treatment.” – Janette Duran

“Mie is a fireball of energy and enthusiasm.” – Heather Colligan

“It is great to have Mie on the Visions team. Mie’s energy is contagious and she is always ready to pitch in wherever needed. Mie believes that recovery is more than just not using or not doing negative actions. Mie believes that recovery is about positive action. Mie shows the kids how movement and exercise tie into recovery.” – John Lieberman

“Mie is one person with the energy of 10!  She is always looking at the bright side and trying to do everything she can to help reach the kids who need extra attention.  Mie has added so much to our team.  She is an amazing physical trainer, and helped start our Teen Love group that was so needed by our clients who tend to focus on the members of the opposite sex as opposed to their personal recovery plan.  Mie is someone who will show up, no matter what, with a smile on her face, ready to help.  We are so grateful for her dedication to not only the clients, but to Visions as well.” – Chris and Amanda Shumow


 You know Mie had to answer 10 questions, so here are her answers! 


1: Where is your favorite place to run?

Anywhere and everywhere

2: If you were to select a food that best describes your character, what food would it be?

Sushi (duh!) because it is small, colorful, tasteful and HOT when you add wasabi! 

3: Do you play any instruments?


4: What’s your favorite song to sing along to?

Drops of Jupiter by Train and anything Adele

5: Yoga or Pilates?


6: Are you the queen of the kitchen or master of take-out?

Princess of kitchen and queen of take out.

7: What is your Starbuck’s order?

Double short soy latte ( for real!)

8: Favorite way to motivate adolescents.

Help them love and believe in themselves, focus on their strengths and talents and teach them to have sober fun!!!

9: How do you start your day?

Pg. 86 in BB, women’s meditation, coffee and a smile!

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

Because my employers are the bomb, therefore everyone that works for and with them shine brightly. I had a challenging time as a teenager and young adult. If I can help them through their rough patches OR help then to not go through what I did, help them have a healthier life filled with joy and promise, I have fulfilled my dreams and possibly my destiny.


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Lianne Domingo: Logistics Coordinator

Lianne Domingo is our stupendous Logistics Coordinator, making sure all of our facilities have their I’s dotted and their T’s crossed, and also well-stocked with everything we need. One of the things I adore about Lianne is her infectious personality and sense of humor. She can make the mundane fun and she brings light and laughter into everything she does, even if it’s simply loading the printer with paper. Throughout the years, Lianne has worn many hats at Visions, and as a result, she understands the deep inner workings of what makes us tick. She is the ultimate problem solver and eternal enthusiast. Lianne would be an ideal teammate in a zombie apololypse. I can’t say enough about her, and neither can the staff. Check it out:

“Lianne started out as my tech and ended up being an amazing coworker. I love that Lianne is approachable and so willing to help. She’s truly a team player and I’m happy I’ve gotten the chance to know her.” – Chloe Huerta

“She is like the encyclopedia of Visions and if you need something handled, she is the person to take charge and get it done! As well as being warm and compassionate with the teens, she has an infectious laugh that sets all at ease and brings up the energy!” – Heather Colligan, MA, MFT

“Lianne is always willing to go the extra mile. Lianne can walk into any situation and provide support and help for the staff and the families at Visions. Lianne continually takes care of many of the behind-the-scenes tasks that can go unnoticed. Lianne is always encouraging and a partner in helping Visions provide great care to the kids and families we serve. Lianne’s positive and disarming personality always makes my day a little happier.” – John Lieberman


“Lianne is our new Logistics Coordinator because she is the boss of all of us!!  Lianne is able to step into any position at Visions and look at the situation with a critical eye for what is best for the client or company.  Lianne has risen through the ranks of Visions because of her kind ways, sense of humor, and work ethic.  (We overlook the Disneyland addiction!) We look forward to Lianne getting married and love that her fiancée is also a part of the Visions family. Lianne is just the right balance between fun and business and is just the kind of person we want for the future of Visions. Thank you for all you do…(and thanks for getting me addicted to Snapchat.  I’m pretty sure that you are not supposed to have this much fun at work!)” – Chris and Amanda Shumow


Continue to read on for Lianne’s amazing answers to our 10 questions:

1: If you could have invented anything from history, what would you pick?

Post-its… What a great concept. Semi adhesive sheets of paper that you can write on and put anywhere. Genius!

2: Cats or dogs?

Definitely dogs. I’m allergic to cats and it’s pretty bad.

3: Do you sing in the shower?

Yes I do. I totally recommend it.

4: What is your favorite ride at Disneyland?

The Haunted Mansion would have to be my favorite ride. My favorite part of the ride is the room with the dancing ghosts. There’s also a Hidden Mickey in this room. I haven’t had too much experience with the supernatural. If I ever do, I hope it’s just as fun!

5: Which Avenger would you be?

I think I would want to be the Hulk. Not even sure why. He’s just really cool. Maybe it’s the calming green color.

6: What is your inspiration?

My brother Aron is a big inspiration. He is a physical therapy student at CSUN right now and totally rocks at the school thing. He’s one of the most dedicated people I know.

7:  If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

Flying trapeze. There’s something freeing about flying through the air and having total trust that the other person will catch you.

8: Roller skates or roller blades?

Roller skates. Although, I would probably be a complete mess if I tried to roller skate now.

9: Are you following your dreams?

Growing up, I always knew I would be helping people. So, yes. I believe I am following my dreams. Ten years ago, I would never have thought I would be helping people in this capacity. One thing I have learned is that God will give you what you ask for. It just may not be how you planned it.

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions? 

When I started at Visions, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I fell into the job with no experience in recovery or treatment. I choose to work at Visions because my ideals about people are challenged all the time and I am challenged to be open to the different people I deal with everyday. Seeing that “click” when a kid is finally willing and surrenders to the process is amazing. I get to be a small part of that process along with the wonderful people I work with.



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Roxie Fuller: Mental Health Recovery Mentor

Roxie Fuller is a remarkable Mental Health Recovery Mentor who brings a sense of calm compassion and kindness to everyone she engages with. Roxie has the innate ability to carry a sense of serenity with her wherever she goes, regardless of circumstance. There’s something truly wonderful about Roxie: her quiet calm, the gleam in her eye, and her subtle, yet hilarious, sense of humor. Roxie is really a gem of a human being. We are grateful to have someone of this caliber as part of the Visions team. The staff wholeheartedly agrees with me:


Roxie is the sweetest old soul that you know is always listening. She’s hard working and is truly passionate about the well-being of the kids. I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to work with her. – Chloe Huerta

Roxie: in that moment you think of her, it’s like a million words to describe joy, happiness, and kind-hearted come rushing your way, and yet you can’t pinpoint any perfect word to describe her–she’s just that amazing. – Janette Duran

Her gentle presence provides much serenity to the houses. It is a pleasure to have her assisting mental-health clients as a mental-health recovery mentor. – Heather Colligan

Roxie The ROCK! Do not ever underestimate Roxie. Through my time at Visions, I have been touched by how much Roxie cares for the kids and families. Roxie wears her heart on her sleeve and is always willing to give her time and energy to help. Even during the most challenging times, Roxie is aware of the emotional needs of the kids. Roxie has a quite presence that has a calming effect on the atmosphere whereever she is. – John Lieberman

Roxie!  Who doesn’t love Roxie?!  She has been a constant at Visions for years.  She is so kind to the clients and staff alike and truly cares about all of us.  Roxie has taken the steps and initiation to work with clients who are struggling with AlAnon issues and is a mentor to all of the females in our program.  Her sense of humor and compassion are just two of the things that we truly appreciate about her.  She is always looking at the best way to do things and offers support without question.  We love us some Roxie!! – Chris and Amanda Shumow


Without further adieu, let’s continue for Roxie’s answers to our wacky 10 questions!


1: If you could be a superhero, who would you be?

Catwoman? Or Meryl Streep

2: What’s your favorite part of a road trip?

Photographing random roadside novelties

3: Cake or Pie?


4: Are you a landlubber or seafaring lass?

Landlubber, I love forests. Lakes are great but the ocean intimidates me. I won’t go in past my thighs.

5: If you could have a song written about you, what musician would you want to compose it, who would perform it, and what would it be called?

Thom Yorke, “The Greatest Actress l know, and Love of My Life”

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

Kim Zmeskal, story teller, vet.

7: If there were one magical power you could have, what would it be?

The ability to be invisible.

8: Favorite book.

“Prep” by Curtis Sittenfeld and Salinger everything.

9: What makes you laugh with abandon?

30 Rock, Strangers With Candy, my Mom, my BFF.

10: Why do you choose to work for Visions?

I have so much faith and respect for my coworkers and Visions as a whole. I see miracles happen all the time when our residents become happier, when genuine life comes back to their eyes. The fact that I get paid to witness this is insane. I was a very depressed and anxious teenager but there were no great inpatient treatment centers for adolescents in the 90’s (at least none that myself or my parents knew of) I could only wish Visions had started back then. I’m so honored to be a part of something great, where it’s core is to help/save adolescents and their families.

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.

Recovery Spirituality

Guide to Finding a Sponsor

After the initial revelation of finding ourselves on a path to recovery, we have to get into action. Our first course of action is to find a sponsor: someone capable of leading us on the path toward taking responsibility for our actions. In the world outside of recovery, sponsors are those who vouch for you or who act as your benefactor. In recovery, however, a sponsor’s role is quite different. Their role isn’t to vouch for you but rather to guide you through the 12 steps. In more apt terms, your sponsor is more like a mentor.

When looking for someone to sponsor you, look for:

  • An individual of the same sex. Yes, you can have a sponsor of the opposite sex, but it’s more beneficial to you and has less potential for complications if sponsorship is gender specific.
  • Someone who has what you want. I’m not talking cars, finances or partner, but someone whose spiritual life and sense of self is something you can strive toward or which you admire.
  • An individual whom you can trust. If there’s any reluctance, look to someone else.
  • Find someone whose actions reflect his or her words. A sponsor who functions under the guise of “do as I say, not as I do,” is not the one for you.
  • Someone whose recovery inspires you.


When you have finally found someone with whom you are willing to do the work:

  • Call them, even when you don’t need anything. If you don’t have that relationship developed, you won’t call them when things are tough.
  • Be consistent. Remember the lengths you would take to use? Apply that same sense of urgency to your recovery.
  • If you think you made the wrong choice, realize it’s ok to move on. It’s your recovery, not theirs.


Your sponsor (is):

  • A guide
  • Spiritual
  • Kind
  • Honest
  • Tough when necessary
  • Works a program

Your sponsor is not:

  • An ATM
  • Your therapist
  • Your parent
  • Your best friend
  • A guru
  • Your lawyer
  • Your higher power
  • Perfect

If you are looking for a sponsor, keep this in mind: Finding the “right”sponsor may take time. If you are having issues beyond the reach of the 12 steps, your sponsor should ultimately ask that you seek professional help. They are morally obligated to do so. Remember, the basic tenants of sponsorship is to take you through the steps.

Feelings Mental Health Recovery Self-Care Spirituality

Forgiveness and Compassion: One Breath at a Time

Compassion (Photo credit: Sarit Photography)

Recently I was asked, “What’s the difference between forgiveness and compassion?” Unearthed from a discussion about childhood trauma, recovery, and parents, the discussion had evolved to spirituality and Buddhist practice and the ways in which we can make space for the trauma and hurt of our pasts. There is an answer, of course, but I often find that questions such as these are best answered via experiential stories. Both forgiveness and compassion require that we practice some level of self-acceptance; in order to be forgiving or able to show compassion to others, we have to be able to provide ourselves with the same thing. This, in its very essence, requires patience and dedication. Changing one’s worldview is tough, and not something most of do without some elements of resistance.


To forgive, we must be ready to let go of our anger and resentment toward someone or something. However, the meaning of forgiveness that I prefer is simply “letting go.” The act of compassion is the desire to alleviate the suffering of others. In other words, it is showing care for others while understanding that they are fully responsible for their actions.  It doesn’t mean that we are justifying their behavior; instead, by being compassionate, we are making space for others to have their experiences without attaching our reactions to them.  This doesn’t come easy. I can tell you from experience that the first few years of my recovery were filled with justified anger.  I couldn’t see past my own resentment and fear, hurt and trauma. There simply wasn’t space for that and I wasn’t fortunate enough to have someone in my life to teach me how to create that space. Things have definitely evolved in the world of recovery.


Most of us come to recovery at the lowest points of our lives, finding that addiction and mental illness have negatively impacted our self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, and self-image, among other things.  We have a laundry list of harms that have been committed against us and another list of wrongs we committed against others. As with any list, you have to check things off one at a time. However, when we are in the midst of the “fight or flight” response (survival mode), we are actually at the polar opposite of forgiveness and compassion. Try to start simply. It’s the small things that often make the biggest differences in our lives.

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Ask for help.
  • Feel your feelings, but understand they aren’t facts.
  • Pause. When we are stressed, we get busy. It detracts from the stress, but it also disallows us to deal what’s really going on within.


Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
Pema Chödrön

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