Q&A with Melissa Stevenson

Title: Director of Outpatient Services

Facility: Foundations San Francisco

Education: Melissa earned her undergraduate degree in counseling and psychology from Christian Heritage College and earned a master’s in counseling and psychology from Southern California Seminary.
Degrees/certifications/licenses: Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT)

Melissa grew up on a ranch in Northern California, calling Redding home until she went off to college.

What makes you passionate about treatment/recovery?
Two things: When it comes to direct patient care, I love helping people and I feel really proud that we are really helping people here, and then I love leading staff and creating an environment where they are growing too.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

I love being part of a team. When we sit in our case meeting each week, I love having a voice of clinical input, but I also love witnessing people brainstorming and sharing ideas and using one another as resources to provide the highest level of care possible.

What would you say to families going through the process of treatment with a loved one?
Don’t lose faith. Hope is out there. People recover every day. If you lose faith and give up, then there’s no room for that great thing to happen. No matter what your loved one chooses, there’s an opportunity for you to heal. Your fate isn’t tied to someone else and their choices.

What’s your daily routine?
It’s a mix between interacting with clients here, supporting my clinical team and my staff and providing the clinical care to keep this place going. And then there’s a component of building relationships with others in the field. My job is essentially to build relationships, both internally and externally.

What do you do to stay energized during the day?

I always find things to laugh at. I don’t take myself too seriously. A little bit of laughter goes a long way. I’m also a big believer in the power of positive thinking, framing things in a positive and hopeful perspective. We also have a foosball table here.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
I love photography. I love sports: snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding. Right now I’m playing in a volleyball league, and I played college basketball, so I love to be active.

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?

I would love to go to New Zealand. I just think it’s beautiful. The photography opportunity would be awesome, and I’ve heard the people there are really nice.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three books, what would you choose?
I would take the Bible and Harry Potter, and what would be the third one I would take? Probably Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

How do you know when someone is “getting it” in the treatment and recovery process?
When they start creating their own momentum. When someone’s first starting, I have to generate a lot of momentum, and then at some point they take that over. They start seeking out positive things to do in their life and really being mindful of their own behavior and self-monitoring.

What advice do you have for people who are entering treatment today?
Be honest and trust the process. You might not get why someone’s asking you to do this thing, but just trust it. What’s the worst that could happen? You might be a little better off or you might be a lot better off because of it.

What advice do you have for people who are struggling to maintain their recovery?
You’re not alone. To struggle is human, so keeping yourself around people who can honor that struggle and support you rather than commiserate with you is the key.

How have you been inspired by people in recovery?
It’s incredibly inspiring to see someone who has had a lot of trauma and painful experiences in their life decide they are going to start treating themselves in a way that is not damaging instead of checking out. I think that’s incredibly courageous.

Favorite quote or best advice you’ve ever received?
There are three of them: “If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” “Worry is like a rocking chair. It just moves you back and forth but you don’t get anywhere.” And then Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do something that scares you every day.”