Mental Health Recovery Trauma Treatment

In Recovery, We Lean In to Let Go

Being in recovery from mental illness, substance abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders, behavioral issues, et cetera, require that we lean into some things that make us uncomfortable. Let me tell you, “leaning in” isn’t easy. Our brains like pleasure and revile pain. In fact, finding ourselves in rehab tells us that our habitual patterns of trying to put an elementary salve on a gushing wound weren’t working very well. It means that drinking, drugging, stealing or lying our way out of our feelings doesn’t work — at least not permanently. Frankly, none of these “solutions” ever work. Not in the long or short term.

By suggesting that we lean into our difficulties instead of leaning away, I am asking for you to embrace your courage. I am also asking you to trust in your exemplary clinical team, your support team, and in your own ability to do this difficult work while you are in treatment and beyond. Positive thinking or praying for it all to magically go away are both examples of temporary, feel-good actions that don’t provide a long-term solution. It’s wise to also recognize that the recovery process often requires legitimate, clinically supported psychological care.

Recovery is about change. It’s about shifting perspectives and learning how to redefine and revise old paradigms in order to create healthy ones. When we face our old thought patterns and old ideals, we offer ourselves the opportunity to let go. We often find ourselves able to walk through our issues not around them, recognizing that while they are present, ready and willing to make us miserable, we don’t have to take the bait. When we begin to look at our issues with some awareness and compassion, their negative influence has a chance to dissipate.

Our ability to recognize the negative for what it is allows us to invite the positive experiences and influences into our lives. In our recent blog, “How do You Stay Motivated,” I quoted Dr. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., who addresses this very thing: “The remedy is not to suppress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen. Rather, it is to foster positive experiences – and in particular, take them in so they become a permanent part of you.”

Negative experiences do not have to own us; in fact, they can be part of the landscape without being part of our foundations.  This is emblematic of recovery.

The process of recovery is not something you have to do alone. In fact, you can’t. There are support groups, clinicians, treatment facilities, therapists, et cetera, as available resources to you. Yes, there are things you may have to face and work through, but coming to an understanding that you don’t have to ride through that storm alone is a welcome relief.

Mental Health Suicide

Suicide is Preventable When You Know the Signs

Suicide is a major, yet preventable mental health problem. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “In 2007, suicide was the thirst leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. Suicide accounted for 4140 deaths (12%) of the total 34,598 suicide deaths in 2007. ”

  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-old Americans. (CDC)
  • There are four male suicides for every female suicide. (CDC, AAS)
  • There are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. (CDC, AAS)

Though these numbers seem daunting, they are not a complete reflection on the youth of today or the way they manage or respond to stress or difficulty. These numbers do, however, indicate a significant problem that we need to be aware of so that we can act accordingly to prevent it.


Suicidal behavior is never a normal response to stress.


Some of the risk factors for suicide include:

  • Depression or other mental disorders
  • Substance abuse (often in combination with mental illness)
  • Family history of suicide
  • Prior suicide attempt
  • History of physical or sexual abuse within the family system
  • Firearms in the home
  • Incarceration
  • Exposure to suicidal behavior of others

Other things to watch for in yourself or your loved ones include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depressed mood, excessive guilt, low self-esteem
  • A loss of interest in family or social activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns (too much or too little)
  • Persistent anger, rage, need for revenge
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Problems at school: socially and academically
  • Feeling listless or irritable
  • Regular or frequent crying
  • Not taking care of yourself (not bathing regularly, etc)
  • Reckless and/or impulsive behaviors
  • Frequent headaches, stomachaches

Warning signs that someone may be thinking of committing suicide:

  • Always talking about or thinking about death
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Clinical depression — deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating — that seems to get worse
  • Loss of interest in things you or your loved one once cared about
  • Comments about being worthless, hopeless, helpless
  • Putting affairs in order, like changing or creating a will all of a sudden, or seeming to “tie up lose ends”
  • Comments like, “It would be better if I wasn’t here,” or “I want out.”
  • A sudden, and unexpected shift from deep sadness to being calm and happy.
  • Talking about suicide
  • Saying their goodbyes


It’s not uncommon for someone who is suicidal to have attempted suicide before. Recognizing some of these warning signs is the first step to helping someone you love or helping yourself. Asking for help is a sign of great courage and strength. It shows deep character and a fierce sense of survival. It is in the act of reaching our hands out that we open ourselves up to attaining help.


Addiction Adolescence Feelings Mental Health Recovery Service Treatment

Adolescent Treatment In Malibu, California

Visions has been providing Adolescent Treatment in Malibu, California, since 2002.

We know and understand the ins and outs of adolescence, deftly differentiating between “normal” ups and downs and those that are polarizing to the family dynamic: i.e., substance abuse, mental health issues, eating disorders, and video game addiction. The trials and tribulations of adolescence can sometimes go awry, however, placing teens and their parents in situations where seeking outside help is the only solution.  Finding help and asking for help are one of the most difficult positions for a family to find themselves. At Visions, it is always our goal to be able to provide a safe, welcoming environment in which one can confront those fears and get the necessary help they need.


An adolescent who is self-harming, playing too many video games, using drugs and alcohol, binging or restricting from food is begging for help via their actions. I try to remember what my own adolescence was like when I consider my reactions to my own adolescent: I remember being terrified and feeling alone, but the mere thought of admitting that was verboten.  The struggles I had were very real, and the need for parental interception was extraordinarily relevent. As parents, it’s natural to feel anger and frustration because our teen is acting out, but if we can step out of the mindset of anger and blame, we may actually be able to show up for our teens in a way that is beneficial to them.  An Adolescent Treatment facility can facilitate that process. When the bridge from parent to child is paved with cracked stones, finding a treatment facility that is facilitated by a skilled clinical staff will encourage the process of mending those cracks; families will learn to create a familial foundation of healing in order to rebuild that bridge back to one another.


If you are worried about your child, see if any of these warning signs sound familiar:

  • 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?


Visions Adolescent Treatment in Malibu is here for you 24 hours a day. You can reach us by email or by phone. We would love to hear from you and help your family transition to a place of health and healing.  Be well.

Anniversary Blogs Recovery

Visions Says Goodbye to JuliAnn Crommelin: Alum and Staff Extraordinaire

JuliAnn Crommelin has always been an incredible light at Visions. She came to us at 17, and during her time as an adolescent in treatment, JuliAnn grounded herself in her recovery and was inspired to give back. She went from alumni to staff as soon as she could. Since March, 2006, JuliAnn availed herself to the staff, clients, and families, drinking up knowledge and developing skills, which enabled her to become an incredible source of inspiration and recovery.


Over the last 7 years, JuliAnn has personified the face of Visions in everything she does, be it working as a program aide, a counselor, an outreach coordinator, or most recently, the alumni coordinator. Everything JuliAnn does, she does with willingness and heart. Recently, an opportunity arose for the Outreach Coordinator position at Promises and Visions encouraged JuliAnn to pursue it. We are proud to announce: She got the job!


Our greatest desire is to encourage those that come through our doors to pursue that which celebrates their greatest assets and encourages them to reach higher than they could imagine. This, in essence, is what it means to inspire the growth of one’s roots and wings. We are tremendously excited for JuliAnn’s next adventure. What she brings to the table is wholeheartedly kind, helpful, and seeped in recovery with a remarkable willingness to learn.


I took the time to talk to JuliAnn and get a gist of her experience at Visions. She couldn’t say enough about the endless encouragement and support she’s received from Amanda and Chris Shumow, along with the rest of Visions’ family. She said,

“Amanda encouraged me to become a counselor and supported my growth. The Shumows always saw my potential and encouraged it. Visions has always been an advocate for me, motivating me to be my best, and encouraging me to go further than I could imagine.”


How would you sum up your time at Visions?

“I grew up there. I learned how to become a responsible adult, with dreams and aspirations. My experience at Visions was truly familial.”


How do you feel about your transition?

After years and years of Visions believing in me and training me, and seeing something in me that I couldn’t see myself, I am finally ready to expand. I’m excited!


What will you miss?

I’ll miss everybody. The camaraderie–all of my friends work there. Honestly, the thing that’s scariest about this adventure is not seeing my friends every day!

I’ll definitely miss the Shumows. They are so relatable!  They always wanted to know about me, and how they could help me enjoy my time at Visions and help me grow. This was the case from the very beginning.”


After many years of encouragement and dedication to hard work, JuliAnn is ready to spread her wings! While we are sad to see her go, we are elated that she is living and following her dream.  This is her last week with us.  We celebrate her time here, encourage her future, and revel in her enthusiasm. She will always be a part of the Visions family and we wish remarkable success and freedom to continue to expand her wings and deepen her roots.

Mental Health Recovery Service

John Lieberman, MA I/O Psych: Following Your Dreams

John Lieberman believes that people should do what they love, and love what they do. He wants to see people thrive in their lives and in their jobs, and he goes to great lengths to facilitate that process.  Receiving his Masters Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology (MA I/O Psych), John continues to effectively look at the organizational framework of Visions to gain a better understanding of how to make Visions run smoothly while maintaining the rich culture that’s embedded within.  In a nutshell, John Lieberman is our social scientist. From the social science perspective, John can critically view the way workplace infrastructures work, both from a functional and interpersonal way so he can help them function more effectively.


When I asked John why he sought a degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, he said, “I believe that the strength and commitment of Visions relies on the culture we have. Chris and Amanda Shumow created a culture of family. We bring people in that we want to work with, and we understand that it’s not possible to leave your personal life at home. We encourage and support our team when they need help.” Within John’s statement lie the fundamental beliefs and practices that are integral to the Visions culture: We are a family.


When Visions began, everyone needed to know how to do a bit of everything, or at least be willing to try. For example, if the toilet was clogged, no one was above getting a plunger to handle business. In this sense, we were a team of “generalists.” Over the years, however, we have evolved and expanded to include a team of “specialists.” I’ll give you an example of a specialist: me. As the New Media Manager, what I do is streamlined, despite the fact that I cover a very broad ground. I am required to know and understand what everyone does and how they do it, but I utilize and disseminate this information in a specialized way via social media resources. From the perspective of John’s degree and specialization, that makes my position and me easier to manage. Having more specialists allows us to celebrate the attributes of the varied members of the Visions team while supporting an efficient management system.


John Lieberman helps the Visions team find the magic and connection in what we do so we can become something our clients look to for inspiration.  If we are following our hearts and doing what we love, then we are creating an environment in which others are encouraged to do the same. John’s master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology affords him an opportunity to provide this wonderful service to others at Visions and beyond: He urges people to do what they love so they can love what they do. John is working his own magic. His passion and love for what he does is contagious.


Three suggestions from John to help you follow your dreams:

1:Figure out how to do more of what you love to do.

2: What are your long-term goals? How does this position help me with my long-term goals?

3: What am I going to bring to this?

If we enter a job and view it as “just a job,” then we are missing out. If we can be as engaged in our jobs as we are in our lives, then we can affect change in the lives that we touch. John says, “When we change a person, we change the world.”

I’ll leave you with this quote form Tony Hsieh,  Zappos CEO, whose ideology we admire at Visions.

“I view my role more as trying to set up an environment where the personalities, creativity and individuality of all the different employees come out and can shine.”
Tony Hsieh

Addiction Adolescence Mental Health Recovery Treatment

Adolescent Residential Treatment: Visions Style

Adolescent residential treatment can seem like a daunting place to send your child, even if the situation warrants it. We know how overwhelming adolescent addiction and mental illness is to the family and friends of the person or people suffering. There is fear, anger, shame, love, fury, disappointment, numbness, and depression, among other things, which typically surface in a family affected by addiction. That’s where a safe container for healing is necessary, and it is also where adolescent residential treatment comes in.


Visions adolescent residential treatment is unique because we make every effort to provide individualized treatment for our clients. We understand there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for addiction and mental illness and we also are aware that no two clients are the same. For example, a client suffering from trauma will participate in an expressive dance class to encourage the trauma to exit their body. Or a surfer who looks to the ocean for spiritual growth will surf as part of their treatment plan. If someone comes into our adolescent residential treatment facility with mental-health issues or their primary addiction is gaming or love addiction, we modify our step-one packet to meet their specific needs. For example, we might take some of our clients to a local Buddhism in Recovery group  (in addition to the usual 12-step groups) where they are able to confront their addiction issues and find cohesive support in a different but safe setting. We essentially provide options above and beyond the normative curriculum in many adolescent residential treatment facilities.


Student-led groups are encouraged. They not only empower the clients, they teach them to walk through their fears while honoring their process of recovery. We offer art therapy with the amazing Susan “the Art Lady” O’Conner, equine therapy, music groups, nutrition counseling, and we have both eating disorder and trauma specialists available. We will do whatever we can to meet our clients needs while ensuring a solid foundation of recovery. Visions adolescent residential treatment is a safe place to begin. We have created an environment that honors the client, supports the family, and offers the greatest opportunities for adolescents and their families to heal. We know that addiction and mental health are family issues.


We have an absolutely phenomenal team of recovery professionals. They happen to be some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever come across. They are particularly skillful at finding the many ways to laugh in the face of adversity. The Vteam, as we so lovingly call ourselves, understands the healing capacity of laughter and the deep need to let it all go. How often does someone come into treatment barely “holding it together,” right? Another incredible asset of our team is the amount of alumni that have come back to work with us. Note, I said “with” us not “for” us. That right there is a key factor of being part of this team.  To quote Patrick, who says it beautifully, “Our staff is unmatched. We have the perfect blend of compassionate, hard working, fun-loving professionals in the Western Hemisphere.  Everyone here loves this work and it shows.” So, is adolescent residential treatment a death sentence? Nope! It’s more like a prescription to “get your life back in order.”

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