Q&A with Jennifer Weaver, NBCC, MS

Title: Director of Outpatient Services

Facility: Foundations Memphis

Education: Master of Science in counseling from the University of Memphis, Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Memphis

Hometown: Humboldt, Tennessee

What makes you passionate about treatment?
At some point in each of our lives, we all feel suffering. That suffering can be from struggles with mental health, addiction or both. While I think there have been significant strides in the last several years to help break the stigma of mental health and addiction issues, there are still miles to go in that regard.

The feedback I get from a lot of clients that have gone through our program is, “I wish I would have done this sooner.”

Personally, I’ve had family members and friends lose their battles with mental health and substance abuse. What makes me passionate about treatment is the knowledge that our facility helps provide hope when someone is feeling hopeless

What’s your favorite thing about your job?
At the heart of things, I’m a clinician. Whether it’s helping to get someone into our program from the first phone call, to hearing about a person’s therapeutic journey from the clinical team, to a person showing up for his or her very first aftercare group following discharge, my favorite thing will always be witnessing the journey someone takes while he or she is here. The journey is hardly ever easy, and more often than not, there are bumps along the way, but hearing about a person’s journey certainly is powerful.

What would you say to families going through the process of treatment with a loved one?
I would first commend a family on how brave it is that the step has been taken to be a participant in the process of recovery. I would also say that recovery is not always achieved in 30, 60 or 90 days. Recovery is sometimes a day-to-day, minute-by-minute process. I think that sometimes loved ones expect that once a person is in treatment, the pieces are all just going to fall into place. I would advise families to seek patience in their loved one’s recovery, as it is a day-to-day and lifelong process.

What’s your daily routine?
I make my coffee, head into the office, answer emails and voicemails from the evening before, facilitate an intake assessment, possibly sit in on a conference call, meet with current clients if they want to speak with me, head out for lunch (self-care) come back to the office to facilitate another possible intake assessment, strategize for business development, facilitate meetings with staff, stay to meet with evening clients if needed and head out of the office for the day. I head home to, hopefully, work out, make dinner and play with my dogs

What do you do to stay energized during the day?
I think getting up from behind the desk and getting outside for some fresh air is important. Also, helping work through client challenges and victories with the clinical team here helps me stay energized! And of course, there is coffee, sweet, beloved coffee.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
I love to hang with my dogs, Wrigley and Baxter. I love to walk around downtown Memphis with my husband when I have the chance, and I love to watch rerun episodes of The Office whenever I can catch them.

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Greece or Bali, Indonesia.

What’s your favorite thing about the city you live in?
Memphis is special for a lot of reasons. I moved here from a small town in west Tennessee, and once I arrived, I knew I was here for the long run. Memphis gets into your blood. From the music, arts, architecture, sports, the mighty Mississippi River, to the food and southern hospitality, Memphis has so much soul and grit! 

What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
At this point in my life, running the St. Jude Memphis Half-Marathon is still my number one accomplishment. I trained for almost six months, and it was the most rewarding experience of my life thus far!

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three books, what would you choose?
The Help, A Walk to Remember and To Kill a Mockingbird

How do you know when someone is “getting it” in the treatment process?
In my experience, I see a couple of things happen. I always used to say that when a client left my office or group room irritated following a session I just facilitated, that I knew I was doing something right. Therapy isn’t supposed to make a person feel good all the time. I knew that if a person left irritated or crying, we’ve probably hit a nerve that needed to be visited. Also, when someone is trying to follow the treatment plan that his orher therapist has worked on with him or her, and we can see the trying portion, I know that something is clicking. Witnessing clients appear vulnerable with their fellow group members is also an indication that they are “getting it.”

What advice do you have for people who are entering treatment today?
Trust the process. Know that this is going to be tough but worth it. There will be days when you want to walk out, but remember that you entered our doors for a reason. There is hope if you give treatment a chance.

What advice do you have for people who are struggling to maintain their recovery?
Reach out to your support for help. Often times, shame and guilt prevent us from reaching out to those in our support group. Play the tape out. Remember that relapse doesn’t have to be your only option when you start to slip.

How have you been inspired by people in recovery?
I’m inspired everyday by people in recovery. Again, with facilitating intake, I usually see people at their worst. It’s a decision every day to keep showing back up at our facility and to work on the hard stuff. I’ll never take for granted the stories I hear or the choices people have made to walk through our doors here and ask for help.

Favorite quote or best advice you’ve ever received?
“’No’ is a complete sentence.”- Megan LeBoutillier