Alsana Staff Spotlight Series:
Alexandra is a primary therapist at Alsana’s Birmingham location. As someone who struggled significantly with fear around food while she was growing up, this is an area very near and dear to her heart. Alexandra works for Alsana because the staff, culture, and clients keep her excited to go to work every day.
I started working for Alsana in 2015 after I completed graduate school. I remember wanting to work in the field of eating disorders when I was in my graduate program but did not know what career opportunities were open in Birmingham. It was actually did a Google search that lead me to Alsana. As I looked at the staff and culture, I remember thinking, “I have got to work here.” Luckily, I got an interview and stared at my job here! I could not imagine myself working with a better team of people.
My role at Alsana is a primary therapist, mainly for the PHP/IOP level of care. I started out as a direct care staff, shifted into other roles, such as discharge coordinator, substance use therapist, utilization review specialist, and finally where I am today! The different “hats” that I have worn at Alsana have helped me learn so much about the treatment process, which makes me feel even more equipped to provide our clients with the best care possible.
I help individuals struggling with eating disorders by being a present, steady, and nonjudgmental presence in their life. My goal is to focus on the physical, mental, nutritional, relational, and spiritual aspects of each client and truly listen to their needs and desired goals for treatment. I walk alongside my clients and we come up with the next steps in treatment as a team.
I would use the words compassionate, clients-first, and safe-space to describe care at Alsana.
In addition to eating disorders, I specialize in substance use disorders, gender, and sexuality. I love working with clients around these topics, as they are things that I truly have a passion for. I completed my internship at a substance use facility working at many different levels of care, and I found myself gaining such a better understanding and compassion around addiction. Gender and sexuality are also topics that I hold close due to personal orientation and love and acceptance of others regardless of how they identify themselves.
Advice that I would give someone with an eating disorder would be: never give up – nothing changes until it changes. Do not be afraid to ask for help, as recovery is not an island.
When an Alsana client sees me, I am likely to be leading a group, in session, chatting with them, or teaching someone how to make wheel-thrown pottery.
The changes that I see in clients between their first day and their last day at Alsana is monumental. It always blows me away to see the “glow up” that clients gain from nourishment, compassion, and patience with themselves. Most clients are a bit anxious about discharge, so I always encourage them to look at how far they have come, how much they have accomplished, and how much they have shown up for themselves. That anxiety can be fuel to keep moving forward!
I find my therapeutic style very unique when it comes to working with clients. I love to use evidence-based practices, such as EMDR, ACT, and experiential therapies, and I also love using more artistic-based methods. One thing that I have gotten into in the past year or so is doing therapy with my clients while using clay. Teaching clients how to use their bodies to create masterpieces on a pottery wheel is truly magnificent. This helps clients celebrate what their bodies are capable of, reduce distress, and increase calm feelings.
I believe that the most common motivator of recovery is the hope for what life could look like. I love to work with clients who are unsure of what they are recovering to. It is so fulfilling to work alongside clients who are working to create meaning and purpose in their lives. Being a part of that experience is probably the most rewarding part of my job.
I think that clients would describe me as a person who is nonjudgmental and unique. I always try to push into my own authenticity in session, bringing humor in (at times), while also providing a safe place for clients to simply be heard.
My pets are my little children. I have two cats and one dog. My cats are Freya and Loki, and my dog is Rory. I definitely have a friendship collar with my cat because I am that person, haha.
I would tell a client on their first day that they are making one of the biggest (and hardest) decisions of their lives. The step towards freedom is often a scary one, but man is it rewarding.
My three favorite childhood activities were figure skating, playing Dance Dance Revolution, and art.
The best meal that I have ever eaten was at a restaurant called The Red Pony in Franklin, TN. I went with my husband and my parents. I remember having elk medallions wrapped in bacon with a blackberry cobbler for dessert. Easily the best meal!
On the weekends, I love spending time with my coworkers, as they are some of my very best friends. This can look like going to trivia, escape rooms, or just hanging out and making dinner together.
Little gifts always make me feel very appreciated. Simply knowing that someone is thinking about me makes a world of a difference in my eyes.
The best concert that I have ever been to was probably Warped Tour in 2016. I was able to see so many great bands in such a short period of time. Either that or seeing Death Cab for Cutie. Reliving my high school days through that was incredible.
On a long flight, I always like to bring a book, thinking that I will read it, but I rarely do. I usually end up listening to music or playing a game on my laptop.
My perfect day would definitely be one filled with amazing food, cute animals, and people that I love.