Celebrate the small successes — this helps keep you motivated and decreases the likelihood of burnout.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lydia Patterson.
Lydia Patterson is the current Clinical Supervisor at Recovering Champions, an Ark facility treating those fighting the disease of addiction. Lydia earned her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, graduating with distinction and specialization in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Lydia has worked with a number of populations throughout the mental health and substance abuse treatment field, that have provided her with extensive knowledge in treating developmental trauma and co-occurring disorders and allowing her to train others in the best practices of trauma informed care. Lydia’s previous training working with children and families and as a counselor, stoked her passion for working with clients throughout the continuum of care and need. She is committed to treating the whole family rather than just the identified patient, to help them better understand the disease of addiction by developing practical solutions that lead to forgiveness, reconnection, rebuilt trust, and ongoing recovery.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Hi! My name is Lydia Patterson, and I am the Clinical Director at Recovering Champions. I earned my Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Assumption College in Worcester, graduating with distinction and specialization in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
I have worked with various populations in the mental health and substance abuse treatment field, and these experiences have provided me with extensive knowledge in treating developmental trauma and co-occurring disorders. It has also allowed me to train others in the best practices of trauma-informed care.
Notable among my previous experiences is working with the Justice Resource Institute. This experience stoked my passion for working with children and families as a counselor at Gosnold Treatment Centers, where I built a granite foundation in the field of substance use, working with clients and families throughout the continuum of care and need.
I am committed to treating the whole family rather than only the identified patient and to helping them better understand the disease of addiction.
I have seen firsthand how developing practical solutions can lead to forgiveness, reconnection, rebuilt trust, and ongoing recovery for the patients and their families.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
This is a tough question because many of us who are genuinely introspective and committed to ongoing growth and change make mistakes of one kind or another almost every day.
Besides, how else do we learn but by making mistakes?
The best way to answer this is to say that over time I have overcome the common but mistaken belief in the importance of individual sessions or specific things that I say or do in those sessions.
Now I better understand that although the individual work has its importance, the overall process and the work clients do out there in the world between sessions carries more weight.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I believe in the concept of the wounded healer and that all of us are in this field for a reason.
So while there are several outstanding professors, supervisors, and theoretical pioneers who have influenced my career path, it was my mother losing her battle with addiction that led me to work in the addiction/recovery field.
Growing up, my sisters and I didn’t understand the severity of our mother’s drinking or how much it would impact our adult lives.
All we knew is we needed to make sure to “smell the coffee cup” to check what mom was drinking so that we would be able to plan our day — or night accordingly. This idea of a child parenting a parent is something that has stuck with me throughout my life and career.
It has also helped me teach families how important it is to maintain boundaries and roles with their loved ones in recovery. It’s not a child’s job to take care of their parents.
Growing up with these dynamics and now seeing this in families of patients helped me connect and help in a way that people feel is genuine, relatable, and helpful.
My mother is where the passion I have for educating families stems from. I am motivated every day by how proud of me I know she is and knowing firsthand how much influence caring people can have on a person’s life.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
Well, we’re in the business of changing lives! Every day, every patient we interact with takes something from us and brings it into the world.
We work very hard to ensure that we provide excellent care, and I am so very fortunate to work with such a fantastic group of skilled clinicians. They make a massive impact on the world, as do all of our staff in all of our programs, one patient at a time.
We have an amazing opportunity with Ark, in particular, to reach a vast population of people all along the continuum of care, from those just beginning their recovery journey to those in remission and working with outpatient therapists.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
Picking five feels like a lot, so instead, I will share one.
This is more of a strategy than a tweak. But it falls in the area of how simple, small changes can have a powerful ripple effect on many aspects of one’s life.
One example I am sure most have heard about is starting your day by making your bed.
Starting your day with this small, positive accomplishment can set the tone for the rest of the day, and even if the day goes off track (as the best planned days often do), you still have that one thing you can feel good about having accomplished.
Speaking of self-care behavior and discipline, I have to tip my hat to my colleagues in longer-term recovery.
Recently, a few of us in the office committed to getting back in shape after the holidays. I quickly saw others around me showing results when I was still trying to get through one full day sticking to the plan!
This made me realize many of my co-workers in recovery have already figured out how to take things a day at a time and maintain structure and self-discipline.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
This one is easy. I think the movement I would like to start is substance abuse and addiction education and early intervention.
I feel that knowledge of these topics is the absolute best way to bring the most amount of wellness to the most significant number of people.
As the adult child of an alcoholic, I am not only genetically predisposed to this disease, but I was environmentally impacted by it growing up — so we’re talking nature AND nurture.
This has greatly influenced my perspective on the importance of treating the family as a whole and not just the individual.
It has also helped me realize that we need to meet patients where they are and provide them with a level of care that will work for their situation. One of the most effective addiction treatments is a long-term treatment program.
This education movement would provide tools and know-how to the community to decrease the stigma of addiction and help increase access to other addiction treatment resources.
Like other chronic diseases, say asthma, you can treat it and still live a whole life. Avoiding triggers of addiction is similar. Once someone learns about these treatment tools, it will decrease the stigma of addiction and help them heal.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Take care of yourself, because you can’t give what you don’t have.
2.Work to live. Don’t live to work. Find what you love, and you’ll never “work” a day in your life.
3. Feedback changes lives — not only actively listening to others’ feedback but withholding your own feedback can do a significant disservice to people around you.
4. Celebrate the small successes — this helps keep you motivated and decreases the likelihood of burnout.
5. Don’t let one day determine the course of your week. Live one day at a time. Just because yesterday may have been bad doesn’t mean that today has to be.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health. From a very young age, I knew I wanted to be in the mental health field. I have always been fascinated by the biological and chemical aspects of mental health as well as the behavioral side.
I also had so many people who helped me along the way. Teachers and guidance counselors inspired me to want to help others the same way they helped me.
My eldest sister is autistic, and she had many aids and helpers when we grew up. It was easy for me to see them as heroes for the services they provided my family and me.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Thank you for these fantastic insights!