Clementine Portland Lead Recovery Coach Alexa Fleming offers an inside look into how she spends her days. Alexa works closely with the Portland team to provide the highest quality care to the adolescents working toward full recovery. Read on to learn more about Alexa and Clementine Portland…
What is your your role at Clementine?
My name is Alexa Fleming. I am the lead recovery coach at Clementine Portland. I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Portland. Being a recovery coach for both Monte Nido and Clementine over the last 2 years have been the most rewarding job I have ever had, so here is a glimpse into a day in the life of recovery coaches.
How does your day start?
My shift starts at 7am, I am the first person on shift in the morning, so the house is usually quiet and just waking up for the day. While the nurse is waking up the adolescents I make some coffee, read the communication log, and start heating up breakfast. While the food is warming up I get ready for the adolescents that portion their meals to come in and get their plates ready. Two by two the adolescents who portion their meals come into the kitchen to prepare their plates, following the clear guidelines for their portion, posted on the kitchen whiteboard. During breakfast, we sit and talk about silly things that happened the night before, dreams that occurred overnight, or whatever else they want to talk about. Once everyone is finished eating, the adolescents that have kitchen privileges are responsible for collecting the dirty plates and putting them in the dishwashers. After breakfast the adolescents go to school for the next 2 hours, and I have time to get the clinical office prepped for the day ahead. Recovery coaches are either in the kitchen helping prepare meals and snacks, or in the milieu spending time with the clients.
What is the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is spending time with the adolescents during their free time. I really cherish this time because I get to see the adolescents outside of their eating disorders. They’re (for the most part) not engaging in eating disorder behaviors and are just hanging out, being teenagers. If they are choosing to engage in their eating disorder, I get to help them see the benefits of connection (or choosing their healthy selves) by playing games, watching silly YouTube videos, and just sitting and engaging in conversation. During times like these I really get to know the clients as people and it gives all of us a break from facing the eating disorder head on. During this time, it reminds me that full recovery is possible and gives me hope that someday these adolescents can live full, happy and recovered lives.
Tell us about any groups you run.
One of the best parts of my week is facilitating Movement Group. In this group we do everything from capture the flag, to water balloon fights in the summer, to low impact circuit trainings. The main purpose of this group is to get girls back into their bodies and begin rebuilding their relationship with movement and provide an example of healthy/balanced exercise. Many of our clients report over-exercise as a behavior in their eating disorder, so this group can be rather challenging at times. We always start off group by setting intentions for the activity and finish group by reflecting and doing an eating disorder vs. healthy-self dialogue as a group.
How do you work with your team to support your clients?
One of the best ways that we work as a team to support our clients is by having a weekly Recovery Coach meeting. In this meeting, I make sure to provide time for the RC’s to process any challenging situations that may have occurred throughout the week and offer feedback and support on how to handle these types of situations in the future. We also go over the adolescents’ contracts and talk about any challenges or privileges that they have for the week. By going over this information it allows all of us to get on the same page before the new contract week starts.
Can you remember a unique challenge that you helped a client overcome?
Throughout my time with Monte Nido and Clementine there have been many instances where I have helped adolescents overcome unique challenges. In fact, I would say that this is the reason why each program has recovery coaches. Our jobs are to handle these challenges, whatever they may be, in the moment, with the adolescent. Sometimes this can look like de-escalating a screaming adolescent in the parking lot during a meal outing, or sitting in the pouring rain with someone who thinks they want to throw in the towel and give up on their recovery. Being a recovery coach is being there, every day, whether it’s a good day or a bad day and facing whatever challenges come up, head on.
How do you wrap up your day?
My day wraps up by giving the report to the next RC that is on shift. We talk about what happened throughout the day and what needs to happen in the evening. Report is often given while portioning afternoon snack.
Do you have a passion or hobby of yours that you are able to draw from when working with your clients?
One of my biggest passions and hobbies is nature. Whenever I can I am outside camping, hiking, backpacking, and exploring the beautiful landscapes of Oregon. Being at the Clementine house surrounded by forest and little Christmas trees has really helped me bring my passion into my work at Clementine. A coping skill that I use in my life is stepping outside and breathing in the cool air after a good rain, feeling the sun on my face in the summer, or going on a walk and shifting my focus onto my senses; and being in this environment at Clementine allows me to teach and pass on this skill to all of our clients.