Madison McCormick’s Avalon Story

About 2 years ago, I had just switched my major to psychology and started taking a class that introduced students to a career in psychology. Jenna Glover came to our class to talk about her job and she mentioned that they were always hiring for Direct Care. I was already on a job hunt so I thought I’d apply and see what happened. I needed experience and getting paid for it would be a bonus. Besides that, who wouldn’t want to work with Jenna Glover?!

Never would I think that a job I took as an undergrad for “experience” would have such an impact on me. I have learned more about myself in a year than I had in the previous 20 years of my life. I am truly grateful that I became a part of this team17 months ago. I have met the most genuine people, both clients and staff, on this journal and that is priceless.

I worked Saturday night after having a horrendous night on Friday. A client walked up to me and said, “This is really cheesy, but I made you a card. I want you to know how much I appreciate everything you do for us.” I put it in my pocket and told her I would read it later. I was already tearing up and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold it together. I read the card when I got home and at one point it said something to the effect of, “I know I’ve frustrated the hell out of you for the last 91/2 months but thanks for not giving up on me.” This client was in a mindset that she wasn’t ever going to get better and told me all the time that she was a lost cause. This is probably because she had been told that by other treatment centers and started to believe it herself.

I am very shameful to admit that from time to time I think, “is there anything else we can do for her?” In short, the answer is usually no. We can’t do anything else. There comes a time when a client needs to want recovery on their own. We can want recovery for them, but it won’t do much unless they want it for themselves. Something that Avalon can (and dose) do, is be patient with them. We could send them on their way when they get stuck between recovery and eating disorder. We could throw our hands up and move to the next client. But we don’t. It is their decision at the end of the day (this is more true where I work at the adult house), but I have seen so many fellow Avalon employees fight like hell to keep a client at Avalon and want recovery for them until they want it for themselves.

As direct care staff, the expectation of not giving up has been evident from day one. I’ve never worked at another eating disorder facility, but I think this is what sets “us” apart from “them.” There is a high standard of care that was made obvious from the very first interview I had. I wasn’t even an employee yet, but I already knew what was expected of me.

After people had been telling me that I did a good job this weekend, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for the recognition. It almost felt as if I was praised for showing up to work on time. Like showing up for work on time, keeping clients safe and keeping their best interest in mind is just something we do. Even if it means fighting for 8 hours straight and then holding down the fort for an additional 7. It’s what is expected of all of us, and being glorified for what is expected, always feels wrong. Any other staff would’ve done the same.

Avalon sets the precedent of “Treat to Outcome.” All we do is follow it.

- Madison McCormick

treat to outcome

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