Residential staff are the lifeblood of any successful program. Mountain Valley is no different. Lovingly referred to as “Res Staff,” they are here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They see the best and worst moments of a resident’s journey at Mountain Valley. They have a tricky and often thankless job, requiring flexibility to morph from coach to cook, organizer, chauffeur, life guard, art teacher, yogi, etc., all while remaining an empathic, confidant and unwavering supporter.

At Mountain Valley, we have added yet another responsibility to the litany of tasks required as a Res Staff–proficiency in the language of anxiety and exposure. All Res Staff receive training on the most frequent diagnoses we see at Mountain Valley (Anxiety, OCD, etc.) as well as our preferred treatment approach, exposure based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This training allows everyone to speak the same therapeutic “language.” However, unlike many other treatment programs, our training doesn’t necessarily end there.

For the Res Staff who demonstrate superior leadership skills and initiative, Mountain Valley goes beyond the basics and provides additional training led by Dr. Tim DiGiacomo and Dr. Alex Young. In other words, rather than just having those Res Staff complete Anxiety 101, Dr. Young and Dr. DiGiacomo provide them with an anxiety immersion program to take them from proficient to fluent. Training involves both didactic and practical components and, once training is completed, Specialists participate in on-going group supervision with members of the Clinical Staff. Res Staff who have successfully completed this additional training become certified as Mountain Valley Exposure Specialists.

Exposure Specialists are charged with integrating exposure activities into daily life at Mountain Valley. From doing animal chores with someone who fears contamination to taking a trip to the Boston Aquarium with a resident who is working on a fear of crowds, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Last week, we started our third round of Exposure Specialist trainings and hope to be welcoming several new members to our Exposure Specialist team in the coming months. If you are interested in meeting our current Exposure Specialists, click here