Alsana Staff Spotlight Series: Nicole Siegfried–Chief Clinical Officer
Nicole Siegfried has been with Alsana since 2013 and helps clients and their families as our chief clinical officer. She is an expert clinician for clients with eating disorders and works closely with Alsana therapists. We can’t imagine our team without Nicole. We hope you enjoy learning about one of our favorite people!
What is your role at Alsana?
My title is “chief clinical officer.” Basically, I work to make sure that our programs demonstrate the clinical excellence associated with Alsana programs. I get to develop and enhance our clinical programs so that we are delivering the most up-to-date, evidence-based treatments for eating disorders. I work very closely with our teams at all our sites to ensure quality and consistency.
When did you start working for Alsana?
I started working for Alsana in 2013. I was with a different treatment center and our entire team came over to Alsana because we believed in the mission of clients first. I began as the clinical director of the Alabama location. Our Alabama team has worked together for over 10 years. Our team dynamics and chemistry are a large part of why the Alabama program is such a successful program.
Out of everything you could do for work, why have you chosen to help individuals with eating disorders?
I chose to work with individuals with eating disorders because I had an eating disorder myself when I was in college. Through my own recovery, I became passionate about helping others with eating disorders. Originally, I set out to be a researcher in the field of eating disorders. I worked as a professor and researcher. But over time I became more drawn to working directly with clients in their recovery work, so pursued more of a full-time clinical job.
Where are you from?
Well, I’m originally from a very small town of 2,100 people outside of Peoria, IL. It was the epitome of a small Midwestern river town—there was one stoplight. When I was 12 my family moved to a suburb of Memphis. I have lived in the South pretty much ever since. But still a short enough amount of time that people wonder where I’m from because I don’t “sound Southern” to people in the South.
What advice would you give someone with an eating disorder?
Don’t give up—ever. You can recover. Don’t wait to get treatment. We have a motto at Alsana, “come as you are.” Just come to treatment right now, how you are. You don’t have to be “more motivated” or “sicker” or “at a better time in your life for treatment.” I’ve seen many “hopeless cases” and “unmotivated, resistant” individuals who have recovered. You can be one of them.
How do you help individuals with eating disorders?
Now, most of my work is behind the scenes. I work closely with all of the clinical teams so that they are delivering the highest quality care. I still get to sometimes lead groups or work directly with our clients and I cherish those moments. I like to think that the way I help people with eating disorders is by being authentic and relational. I believe that people recover through relationships and so I want to develop a healthy therapeutic relationship with clients and I want to facilitate this same dynamic for all of our staff.
Why do you work for Alsana?
I work for Alsana for so many reasons:
- I love working for a company that is focused on culture. Our guiding principles serve as the foundation of our work, which creates a deep connection among our team.
- I love working at a company that not only believes a full recovery from eating disorders is possible, but also believes that recovery can be a reality for every client who comes through our doors.
Have you ever had an experience in your life that you thought was bad at the time, but that turned out to be good?
I have had many of these. I can’t say that they turned out to be good, but almost every seemingly terrible event in my life (including my eating disorder) has brought blessings and grace for which I am forever grateful.
What words of hope and encouragement would you give someone with an eating disorder?
Recovery is possible. The first step is to believe that it is possible. One of the hardest things that you will ever do is work through the recovery process, but you can do hard things.
What three words would you use to describe treatment at Alsana?
Compassionate, innovative, authentic
What do you believe is the most common motivator for healing?
I think that the motivator shifts based on the individual, but basically I believe people begin to recover when they believe that the possibility of a life in recovery is better than the life they have in their eating disorder.
What do you look forward to at work?
Ok, this is where I am really nerdy. I look forward to so much at work. I love my work. I look forward to all of my work routines (I get Starbucks every morning on my way to work—it feels like an old friend 😊), all of my work relationships (I truly miss my Alabama peeps when I’m on the road), and marking things off of my list (I am one of the only people who still keeps a paper calendar—I color-code it). I love that I have a job where I get to be a witness to great healing and recovery and that I get to be a small part of that process. I could go on and on.
What word or phrase do you find yourself saying frequently at Alsana?
Well apparently, I say funny things. The thing that people make the most fun of me for is saying “fudgesicles” and “sugarfoot.” I didn’t know where this came from, but I was visiting my family recently and my sister yelled out, “Oh fudgesicles!” So I guess my whole family says this!
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
I love this question—I have so much to tell her. I first want to say to her, “you are loved, just as you are. You don’t have to be anything more than who you are. That is enough.” (Every 13-year-old needs to hear that—often 😊.) I would also tell her don’t get that Farrah Fawcett haircut and perm. It will take years to grow out 😊.
What’s your favorite hobby?
I love to ski! I’m pretty high energy, so skiing has been the only activity where I truly can feel mindful. My mind shuts off and I can just concentrate on the beauty of the surroundings and getting down the mountain. My family and I have gone to Park City every year for the past 18 years!
What’s the most fun thing you’ve ever done with the clients?
What were your three favorite childhood activities?
I grew up in a family of “performers.” I began dance and gymnastics when I was three. My mother said I never sat still. I flipped around the room while we watched television. My other favorite activity that I began as a child and have continued my whole life is reading. I am an avid reader. So I would say my 3 favorite childhood activities were: dance, gymnastics, and reading.
What would you tell a client on their first day?
This what I tell every client I see on their first day:
At some point today, you are going to think that coming to treatment is the worst idea you ever had. You are going to think something like, “I don’t need this,” “This is too chaotic,” “These people don’t get me,” “I’m not like these other clients.” That is part of the process and it’s just fear. Almost everyone experiences this on their first day. You may even feel like this for the first few days as you’re getting adjusted. We want you to feel seen and understood here, but that will take a few days to begin to get settled.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, we have a 4-year-old miniature beagle. We joke because my husband and I are both psychologists and we couldn’t appropriately potty train this dog.
How do you keep yourself occupied on a long flight?
I have a lot of these lately because I travel a lot as part of my job. I’m embarrassed to say I work on flights (but remember I’m that nerdy type who loves to work).
“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 Nicole. 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.