Alsana Staff Spotlight Series: Allison Burnett, LICSW, CEDS
Allison Burnett is Alsana’s National Director of Alumni and Advocacy. She is an advocate for the LGBTQ community and can regularly be found educating both Alsana and other providers on creating affirming treatment environments. We are so grateful to have Allison on our team and for the supportive communities she has helped Alsana foster across all of our programs. We hope you enjoy learning more about Allison and the important role she plays at Alsana!
Where are you from?
I am from Satsuma which is a small city just north of Mobile, Alabama.
When did you start working for Alsana?
I started working for Alsana in 2013. Prior to this, I worked with the Alabama team at a different treatment center for many years. From 2013-2016, I worked as a primary therapist at the Birmingham location. For the past two years, I was the director of regional outreach for the southern states. In January 2019, I transitioned to be National Director of Alumni and Advocacy.
What is your role at Alsana?
I am the National Director of Alumni and Advocacy, which means I serve two populations. I work with our alumni to support their recovery once they leave our treatment programs by utilizing resources, connection, and workshops. I work with our programs to ensure that we are providing and maintaining an affirming treatment center for our LGBTQ clients by training the staff, educating the public, and tailoring our treatment to best serve our LGBTQ clients.
Why do you work for Alsana?
I work for Alsana because I believe in what we do, the people I work with, our guiding principles, and our culture.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is helping our staff and the community work with the LGBTQ community. I live, and my office is based in the South. It is important to me to help clinicians be affirming so that the LGBTQ community have safe clinicians to work with.
What do you specialize in?
I am a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist, a Certified LGBT Affirmative Psychotherapy Provider, and am currently completing my Transgender Certified Therapist training.
What do you look forward to at work?
Collaboration with my coworkers, which sometimes comes in the form of parallel play. This is a term Dr. Nicole Siegfried introduced me to. It’s when people work on completely unrelated tasks but share the same space (the term is from childhood social development). We feed off each other’s creativity and productivity when we parallel play.
Do you have any pets?
Yes—two dogs, both mutts. Sydney who is best described as a beagle/dachshund mix, and Conde who is best described as “I have no idea what she is.”
If you could have any pet in the world, what would it be?
A penguin—any type of penguin
How do you help individuals struggling with eating disorders?
While my current role does not focus on interacting with clients one-on-one, I help individuals who struggle with eating disorders in a different way. My goal is to create a welcoming environment for our clients once they discharge so they can feel open to reaching out to Alsana if they need outpatient resources, how to navigate life after stepping down from a higher level of care, and how to stay connected while putting their recovery first.
I work with our staff at each location to ensure that we are providing an affirming environment for our LGBTQ clients by providing education and consultation.
Lastly, I provide education to professionals across the country on eating disorders and the LGBTQ community.
What changes do you see in clients between their first day and their last day at Alsana?
Humor. One of the coolest changes I have seen with clients between their first day and their last day is they are able to find humor even during difficult times. They can capture moments of joy even if they are feeling not the best.
What three words would you use to describe treatment at Alsana?
Innovative, affirming, intentional
How do you keep yourself occupied on a long flight?
I have the much-desired ability to be able to sleep anywhere—so that’s what I do. One time, I went to sleep before departure in Atlanta and woke up when the plane was being de-iced in Baltimore.
What advice would you give someone with an eating disorder?
“The only way out is through” – which is one of my favorite songs by Alanis Morissette.
It will get worse before it gets better. It’s common for clients entering treatment to initially feel like “this isn’t working” and “I feel worse than I did.” The first few weeks of treatment can be incredibly difficult as we work on what led to the development of an eating disorder all while stabilizing eating disorder behaviors. We have to go through the mess to get to recovery.
Out of everything you could do for work, why have you chosen to help those struggling with eating disorders?
I never thought about working with people who struggled with eating disorders. I was in graduate school when I randomly started working at a treatment center for eating disorders to build my resume. I quickly found myself being passionate for working with this population because I saw that these clients have such potential and I felt my calling to help them find it.
What’s the most fun thing you’ve ever done with the clients?
It’s hard to narrow down to what the most fun thing is. I’ve taken clients to trampoline parks, farms, arcades, and batting cages to name a few. Anytime I can take clients out of the office and out of their comfort zone it is fun.
On a scale of 1-10, rate your artistic ability, and why you’d rate yourself that way.
A 1, if we are talking about artistic ability in the classic sense of painting. One time, the Birmingham staff had an art night where we made artwork for the new residential building. Everyone’s artwork ended up in the building…except mine.
“Let your light shine” is a foundational principle of Alsana’s culture. We expect employees to come as they are and bring their whole selves to work, just as we want our clients to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves—exactly as they are—to their eating disorder treatment.
Alsana’s staff spotlight series highlights the way our employees let their light shine and the unique attributes only they can add to our clients’ recovery experience. We truly hope you enjoyed learning more about Allison. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call us today at 888-822-8938 to learn more about all our eating disorder treatment options.