A Reflection on the Holidays, the New Year, and Values

On Christmas, I had some time to reflect and relax a bit with my family, watched my boy open presents, went to church, and then was able to spend time with the current residents on campus playing games, checking in and building ginger-bread houses.  I also spent time thinking about my values, the values of this holiday season, and the values of Mountain Valley.  Values are commonly discussed in ACT and other forms of therapy and it’s easy for me to be reminded of this during this time of the year.

Some Core Values of Mountain Valley:

1.) We want to help

This may seem a bit cliché, but it’s the reason that we go to work at MV each day.  It’s part of the reason that Mountain Valley was created; to provide the highest-quality anxiety and OCD treatment using CBT, ERP, and ACT.  And, it’s part of what drives us in teaching our residents and guiding our families through challenging times.

2.) Freedom

At Mountain Valley, we are working to help our residents and their families become free from the constraints of anxiety and OCD.  As related to the holiday, one value that comes across in Chanukah is that of freedom from oppression.  In the Mountain Valley context, I tend to view this as freedom from the anxieties that keep us from engaging in our lives and doing that which is important to us…the anxieties that oppress us and keep us trapped and stuck.

3.) Perseverance and Courage

The values of perseverance and courage are what continues to motivate us to overcome obstacles and to take on challenges especially when it is tough.  We work to harness these values in our residents and families to help them through their anxiety and OCD.  I think about this often in the context of exposure therapy and how it is inherently a challenging endeavor.  I’ve also been thinking about this in the context of Christmas – the story of a child, Jesus, being born homeless into a life of challenge, but who also lived a life full of meaning and whose message of peace is still present today.

On a more light-hearted note, I was also reminded of perseverance and courage recently by the famous cowboy John McClane, who overcame his fear of flying, heights, tight spaces, and worries about letting others down.  Against all odds, his perseverance and courage helped him to truly save his family and the Nakatomi Plaza Christmas Party of 1988.

4.) Acceptance 

Acceptance has two meanings at Mountain Valley.  In one way, it is about accepting your circumstances and still finding a way forward and living your life.  It’s about not letting your anxiety or OCD keep you down.  Much like the story of Ralphie and the Red Ryder BB gun (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”), sometimes the dogs get your Christmas dinner before you do, but, you still have to make the best of it and find a way forward.  Sometimes it even turns out better than you anticipated.

In another way, acceptance is more about fitting in and feeling connected to others.  Rudy the Red-Nose Reindeer had a hard time starting out and did not fit in with the other reindeer.  I heard that they used to laugh, call him names, and not even let him play reindeer games, like Monopoly!  Eventually, he found his groove though and found acceptance.  At Mountain Valley, our residents are some of the best you could ever ask for.  They are truly what makes this a wonderful program.  I’m consistently impressed with their genuine and heartfelt care and support for each other.

5.) Family

Renowned food additive designer Clark Griswold, also well-known for his value of family and tradition, would stop at nothing to ensure a wonderful holiday for his family.  He would also do so with enough cheer and positivity for all.  Much like Clark, though less accident-prone and with fewer lights on our campus, Mountain Valley values the families with whom we work.  We work to guide families through the challenges of anxiety and OCD and to develop new ways of supporting each other and helping each other grow.  We understand that for many parents, leaving their teen in treatment is one of the most difficult things that they’ll ever do.  We appreciate this and will continue to work to the best of our abilities to do right by you and your family.

Wishing you all peace on Earth and psychological flexibility this holiday season!

Dr. Timothy DiGiacomo, Clinical Director