Spotlight on Lasting Recovery with Ashley Solomon, PsyD, CEDS
Eating Recovery Center and Partner Program staff members are passionate about supporting patients and alumni, and they play an integral role in the recovery process by sharing their wealth of experience and wisdom with patients in treatment. We hope that by learning about their passion for lasting recovery, you will be encouraged and inspired in your own recovery journey. Ashley Solomon, Executive Clinical Director at Eating Recovery Center, Ohio shares her passion for working with the eating disordered population. 1. What is your role at ERCOH? I began at Insight to complete my post-doctoral fellowship in clinical psychology, feeling so fortunate to be trained by some of the very best in the field. I was given the opportunity to oversee our intensive outpatient program for eating disorders and to develop the program’s clinical philosophy. I had the chance to grow alongside Insight as we expanded our eating disorders services to include partial hospitalization and the residential treatment and then became the Director of Eating Disorder Services. Meanwhile, while I loved Chicago and all of the wonderful relationships I had developed at Insight, my heart was calling me home to Cincinnati. I had grown up here and returned to graduate school here, always hoping that I could expand eating disorder services for this community. I had never known exactly what shape that would take, so when I approached our leadership team about opening a program here, I was ecstatic to be given their support. I now serve as the Executive Clinical Director of the Eating Recovery Center of Ohio. I oversee the center’s operations and help to make sure that every patient is given the best possible care and best opportunity to flourish in recovery. 2. What inspired you to become involved in the treatment of eating disorders? Eating disorders have touched me closely and I observed how they can wedge their way in between someone’s self and their most important relationships and values. Eating disorders thrive in places of isolation and shame, and I was committed to shining hope and light on people that struggle with these illnesses. Growing up in Cincinnati, people in my community would struggle to find resources to treat these disorders. Options for treatment were lacking and insurance and financial resources often wouldn’t support people in getting well. I decided I needed to “be the change you wish to see in the world” and do something about the disparity between how many people suffer and the treatment options available. I wanted to learn all that I could about treating these disorders, and I sought out every opportunity to build my knowledge. 3. What is your favorite or most rewarding part of your job? I feel so grateful each and every day to be entrusted with patients’ recovery journeys. Having someone sit in my office and share their struggles and triumphs is deeply personal and I never, ever take that for granted. Even if I’m not able to see someone again after they leave treatment, I believe they carry a piece of the work we did together with them and I hope it brings them peace and strength when they most need it. 4. What is the most challenging part of your job? I feel really fortunate to have a role that allows me a lot of variety and opportunity to wear different hats. But that can also be challenging because there often just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all! I’m always working on practicing acceptance and this is an area where I continually practice – I cannot bend time and I have to be okay with that! 5. What is one piece of advice you would give to individuals in recovery? Relationships replace eating disorders. I learned that truism from Shannon Cutts, author and founder of MentorConnect, and I say it often. Real, true, genuine and intimate relationships cannot co-exist with eating disorders, so we have to choose. Do we want to build a life of meaningful relationships in which we can give and receive openness and love? Then we need to make those our value and work to get the way we live our lives in line with that value. At the end of the day, there is nothing more healing than a close relationship, whether it’s with a clinician, partner, teacher, or pet. 6. What do you feel ERCOH offers to support “lasting recovery”? Our team’s top priority is to get to know each patient individually and to help them build their own roadmap of recovery. That might look a bit different for each person. We really emphasize developing the tools to carry your recovery journey forward, whether that’s through practicing self-monitoring, developing relationship-building skills, or participating in real-world exposure therapy through outings. We also work with patients to build a support network for themselves, and we work hard to support patients in getting connected to resources in the community. 7. Tell us about PHP/IOP. How do you feel PHP/IOP is beneficial in eating disorder recovery, and life after treatment? Partial hospitalization offers the opportunity for patients to get the support and structure they need to build a life of recovery. In PHP, patients can work on overcoming the barriers the eating disorder presents, while having the opportunity for some real-world challenges. Intensive outpatient gives patients the chance to build skills, connect with others who are also on a recovery journey, and work closely with their treatment team to integrate their growth into their everyday lives. 8. Any additional information you would like to share? Interesting helpful tidbits or perspectives to share? Inspiring stories or experiences in working with patients? Now that I have children, I feel like I learn from them each and every day something that I incorporate into my work. Sometimes it’s a reminder of how important it is to be silly and play, sometimes it’s that I’m ultimately powerless over someone else’s choices, sometimes it’s a lesson in being mindful of the present moment. Ultimately, they’ve reminded me that as I grow and change as a person, I become a different – and hopefully better – clinician and leader, but only if I stop to pay attention.