Emily Dumas, MA, LMFT is the Clinical Director of the Monte Nido Eating Disorder Center of Philadelphia. Emily has extensive experience in the eating disorder field and uses a collaborative and integrative style in her therapy in order to tailor her approach to each of her client’s needs. Get to know Emily more by taking a glimpse into her soul…
Share about your background and what led you to Monte Nido:
I have witnessed several friends struggle with eating disorders during different stages of my life. With that experience, I realized there is no area that goes untouched- relationships with self and family, issues with mental health, physical and emotional development, etc. The complexity of the eating disorder and addressing all factors plays an integral role in treatment and recovery, which contributed to my desire to study developmental psychology for my undergraduate degree and family therapy as a graduate student. As a clinician, I found that a collaborative and integrative approach was most effective and allowed treatment to be tailored to each individual. As my experience with eating disorders grew, I found myself desiring a more comprehensive, family oriented treatment for my clients. When I learned that Monte Nido was looking to expand to Pennsylvania it seemed like a perfect match for my theoretical framework.
What does your typical day look like at Monte Nido?
Each day is slightly different due to the program schedule and different occurring events. I typically take care of program administration duties in between checking in with staff members, spending time with clients in the milieu, eating snacks and meals with clients, as well as leading a few groups each week. I also meet with potential new clients and their families who might be apprehensive to start treatment. I love the ability to spend time getting to know clients throughout their treatment: it is a hands on approach that assists me in supervising staff and with making clinical and program decisions.
In your own words, please describe the philosophy of Monte Nido.
The Monte Nido philosophy is about helping clients reconnect to their “soul self,” which we believe is the key to who they are. Clients are often enmeshed with their eating disordered self and have lost touch with their authentic self. As clients move through treatment, they strengthen their healthy voice and begin to develop a life outside of their eating disorder. Monte Nido believes that food is a mandatory part of healing, although it is just a piece of the recovery process. We look at underlying issues and help clients reclaim their relationship with food and themselves in order to grow and heal.
How does your team work together and how do roles overlap?
One of the aspects I love about Monte Nido is how our staff has become a family. We work cohesively as a team; this allows the client to integrate themselves into our family and trust our treatment recommendations. We believe that it takes a village to support a client through the program and we have created that village in our team. We are constantly communicating with one another to keep everyone on the same page. Our roles are often fluid, as we all jump into meals, groups, and check- ins and utilize each others strengths to support one another and help the milieu grow. The family dynamic that we foster in MN is mirrored in my supervision and management style through honoring each individual’s own style, approach, and voice. From program coordinator to mental health worker to clinical therapist, to assistant clinical director… No ones voice is louder than another.
Share a special moment/ experience you’ve had at Monte Nido.
Since our site is brand new, my team has done all of the work necessary to bring our first clients through the door. I have had countless moments that touched me as a clinician, a director, and even more importantly as a person. If I had to limit it to just one distinct moment I have had thus far at Monte Nido, I would say graduation ceremonies are a truly special experience. Graduation is a pause in the treatment schedule where both staff and clients come together and authentically connect with one another in a happy, hopeful, and bittersweet ceremony. Graduation has been a place where each of us to tap into our soul selves in order to celebrate and honor our client in transition.
What is unique about Monte Nido?
At Monte Nido we meet the client where they are, we do not get into a power struggle with the eating disorder, we practice truth without judgment, and always work together as a family. We conceptualize each client as a whole person and assist them in creating their own treatment plan and weekly contracts. Not only are our clients a part of our family, their supports and outside providers are also welcomed into treatment and become a part of our extended family in order to best understand and assist each client heal.
Share three facts about yourself.
- My family’s heritage and culture is a big part of who I am. I speak fluent Spanish as my mother is from Chile and comes from a long line of strong women.
- My husband and I adopted a dog from Chile and his name is Clemente.
- I love to travel! Some of my favorite trips include: Spain, India, Greece, Turkey, Argentina, and, of course, Chile.