Jen Tolman’s Avalon Story
At Avalon Hills, we use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (also known as ACT), in an effort to help the patients achieve full recovery. It has been a very effective theoretical treatment approach because it helps individuals decide what is most important to THEM, and then opens a path for living a values-driven life. One unique aspects of ACT is that it REQUIRES the therapist to also be living according to his or her own identified values, in order to achieve a congruent therapeutic setting. This type of therapy compels the treatment provider to identify which values are most important and then to be working toward living a life guided by those values. My own identified values are the reasons I work for Avalon Hills.
I started working for Avalon Hills shortly after graduate school. Clinically trained as a Psychologist, I first worked as a Primary Therapist, then as Assistant Clinical Director and then became the Director of Patient Services. At one point, I moved back to Oregon to be closer to family, and while I didn’t technically work for them, my heart never left Avalon Hills. It wasn’t long before I returned to Avalon employment and since then, I’ve held various positions related to provider relations, legal advocacy and helping hold insurance companies accountable for what they are contractually obligated to do.
Some of my personal values are hard work, making a difference in the lives of others, integrity and play. At Avalon Hills we work very hard. There is always much to do and there is such fulfillment from knowing you are doing your best to make a difference in someone’s recovery process. There is great satisfaction in working hard together, as teams, to bring about change in our industry, as we fight for our patients’ well-being.
Perhaps one of the reasons I love our organization the most is that we have integrity as a company. As a whole, we do the right things for the right reasons. Of the over 55 residential treatment facilities, Avalon Hills is one of two that remains privately-owned. This means that Avalon can remain true to its mission of Treating to Outcome, rather than just treating until the patient’s insurance company tells her to leave treatment, whether she is recovered, or not. This is the definition of integrity—the quality of being honest and having moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided. Treatment companies who have sold out to private equity firms, no matter how they may try to spin it, CANNOT have the patients’ best interest in mind when they are beholden to owners who, by their very definition, have to be more concerned with leveraged buyout, venture capital and growth capital, than the patients’ ability to remain in treatment until they are fully recovered. As the ONLY residential facility who Treats to Outcome, Avalon Hills will ALWAYS put the patient first, even if it means we, as employees, sacrifice personally and are forced to stretch professionally to make this happen. We are whole and undivided in this mission.
Play is the other value that keeps me working at Avalon Hills. While my Avalon Hills paycheck is what helps me pay for playing in real life, there is a magical aspect of Avalon Hills that can only be understood by working here. We have fun in our respective teams (even though we work very hard), we find joy in watching very sick young women recover (even though at times we want to strangle them ourselves when they’re so entrenched in their eating disorders) and we believe in laughing together, finding comfort in one another’s struggles, as we enjoy peace in knowing we are all fighting for a cause, in a way that truly saves lives. It is people whose values align with hard work, integrity, play and making a difference, who remain at Avalon Hills for many years.
- Jen Tolman