Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Manhattan Lead Therapist Colleen Baker, LMSW shares her soulful journey to joining the Monte Nido team in this week’s blog post. Learn more about Colleen and her work at Monte Nido Manhattan…
Share about your background and what led you to Monte Nido:
I became passionate about the field of eating disorder treatment and recovery through my own recovery process, finding my way into advocacy work and non-profits such as NEDA and Project HEAL in college and exploring these interests/opportunities further upon my arrival to graduate school for social work in New York CIty. Through the incredible souls that I met within these organizations, I found my way to Monte Nido, a treatment program I had been admittedly following and dreaming of working at for years, and began my work at the end of grad school at Monte Nido River Towns (“Irvington,” officially, at the time) as a recovery coach (“mental health worker” at the time). After about a year of recovery coaching in a residential setting, I had the opportunity to move onto EDTNY and become a Primary Therapist. I ultimately became Lead Therapist there about a year and a half later and I’ve been in that role ever since. From River Towns to EDTNY, I’ve been in awe of the soul and spirit that exists within this company and have met many of my current best friends, mentors and colleagues for life.
What does your typical day look like at Monte Nido?
It feels like every day is different at Monte Nido, but they always without fail involve a lot of support and collaboration from my team, work with incredible clients and consistently learning something new about this work and myself along the way. My days usually include checking emails, getting caught up on utilization reviews, collaboration with outpatient teams and families, acquiring insight from team members, individual sessions, team meetings, groups and, one of my new favorite parts of the job, running intern/recovery coach supervision. This company thrives on supporting the careers of its clinicians, from the time you’re an intern/RC through the acquisition of leadership roles. I love getting to “pass the torch” and share the knowledge I’ve received from my mentors over the years.
In your own words, please describe the philosophy of Monte Nido.
In my eyes, Monte Nido’s philosophy is simple: recovery is possible. We believe in the healthy self and everything that comes with it–the life and experiences that can exist once we lean into the parts of ourselves that are attached to who we really are–and not the eating disorder’s agenda. We believe in our clients and will do everything in our power to help them build that healthy voice, no matter how scared it may be to show itself at first.
How does your team work together and how do roles overlap?
To put it lightly, being a part of this team very closely resembles being in a very loud, funny, loving and supportive family of some of the most clinically-minded and kind people I know. I am amazed on a regular basis by the lucky straw I must have pulled at some point to work with this staff, across the board. Every team member I’ve encountered over the years has brought about their own energy and value and heart to the team and it is incredible to experience the impact this can have on our team as a whole and for our clients in each group, check-in, meal, snack, group and session. Each role and each person filling said role has been designed to help the program run efficiently in order to meet our client’s needs most effectively and when we are operating on all cylinders, it is a pretty neat well-oiled machine to be a part of.
Share a special moment/ experience you’ve had at Monte Nido.
It feels like every day brings about a special moment art Monte Nido, but the most special moments always include seeing alumni come back for groups or for a check in and seeing our clients find life outside of the eating disorder at any point in the process. Hearing their stories of recovery post-treatment, tales of trips abroad and graduating from high school and college, getting married, having babies! Hearing about the big life stuff that they get to experience in recovery is why I started in this field. It’s exactly why Monte Nido is so special to me.
What is unique about Monte Nido?
To me, Monte Nido manages to not only teach clients about skills and emotion regulation while disempowering the maladaptive behaviors currently ruling their daily lives, but promotes the healthy self lifestyle by experiences: meal outings, activity outings, exposures, challenges, groups that focus on life skills and interpersonal relationships and clinicians leading the charge who are recovered themselves or passionate about the cause enough to promote recovery by living life and facing everything that comes with it without the eating disorder. In addition to this, the beautiful facilities, the training and techniques we utilize each day, the collaboration we get to regularly learn from are all at the heart of Monte Nido. Also, just to make myself clear in case it isn’t obvious, the people I get to spend my days with are some incredible and unique human beings!
Share three facts about yourself.
- I have a cat named Cece (short for “Cecilia,” a la Simon & Garfunkel) and she is my everything.
- I started a student organization at my undergraduate university to support students in recovery and promote body tolerance and acceptance across campus. It was so fun and started my interest in advocacy work.
- I have a tattoo of an acorn on my wrist which is a symbol for my favorite quote by an anonymous writer (that I found in a fortune cookie) and reads “The mightiest oak in the forest was just a little nut that held its ground.”