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The Timing of the Leadership Institute was Perfect.

Holly McCravey, M.A., R.A.S.Holly McCravey
Program Director
Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center (CMHC)

After working in the field of addiction and mental health for over 20 years, Holly McCravey had hit a plateau and was concerned about the next step in her career.  She was at a professional crossroad and seriously considering leaving the field. Fortunately, Holly discussed this issue with her supervisor. He had helped guide her career to this point, and Holly knew she could confide in him. Her supervisor was able to hear her frustration and wanted to support her professional growth.   He suggested participating in the Pacific Southwest’s ATTC/PFR Leadership Institute. “The timing of the Leadership Institute was perfect,” said Holly.  “It turned out to be exactly what I needed, an opportunity to explore and enhance my leadership and interpersonal skills.”

First of all, how did you choose to be in the addictions field?  
Like many others who work in this field, it was my own personal struggle with addictions and a family history of alcoholism that fueled my desire to learn as much as I could about this devastating disease.    I was just out of college with a B.A. in Psychology and looking for a job. While attending my Addiction Studies program I was able to network with professionals in the field and consequently, hired as a counselor in a DUI program.  I continued in hospital based programs until the birth of my daughter in 1989. Four years later I returned to the workforce as an addiction counselor working with the seriously mentally ill.  I quickly moved into a management position and by 1999 was the Operations Director for two partial hospitalization programs serving dually diagnosed clients.

"I’m blessed with a passion for this work..."

Through your participation in the Leadership Institute, what have you learned about yourself?  
The self-evaluation process we experience through the personal assessments was very powerful.  It affirmed my interest in leading people and leading change. I realized my career path has been steering me towards organizational development and leadership roles.  I now understand why my work in this field doesn’t feel like work, at all.  I discovered that my personality type defined by the Myers Briggs assessment thrives in environments of change.

How did your mentor help you? 
My mentor has helped support me in so many ways.  Because of her vast experience in the addictions field, she always had about ten stories to share which were relevant to whatever topic or issue we were discussing.  She was empowering, supportive, and complimentary.  She also served as a sounding board for my ideas.  I can not say enough about the reward of having this wonderful, invaluable mentoring experience.

What was your Leadership Institute project?  
Actually, I had two projects!  With my mentor’s assistance, my first project involved writing a vision statement with the staff for the program I direct, the Via Avanta program. Over the past several years this program has transformed from a traditional therapy community into a gender specific treatment program for women.  The team now uses the statement as an instrument to guide staff behavior.  They decided to have the statement printed on coffee mugs as a daily reminder of our values, and the mugs are also given to new staff.

For my second project, I developed an intensive mental health training designed to help counselors successfully work with Axis I clients.  These are difficult clients for counselors to manage, and our staff was getting very frustrated while trying to find the best way to support them.  MD’s, R.N’s and mental health clinicians from our agency came to our site and provided training 2 times per month over a three month period.   The result of the training was enhanced knowledge and skills demonstrated by improved outcomes with dually diagnosed clients. It also resulted in the substance abuse counselors gaining new connections to our mental health agency.  Plus, it boosted staff confidence and competence.

What have you been working on since graduation? 
Since my experience with the Leadership Institute, I have moved from being a “manager” to a “leader” within my organization.  I am now expanding my leadership skills in strategic planning, building coalitions and partnerships to enhance addiction treatment for women.  I have taken a training role with the Pacific Southwest ATTC to spread NIATx principles to addiction treatment providers in the state of California.  This has been a great networking opportunity!   I’m blessed with a passion for this work, and the support of co-workers, family and friends.

Holly McCravey's Bio

Holly McCravey specializes in gender specific treatment for women and the treatment of dual diagnosis. For the past 8 years she has been employed with Didi Hirsch as a Program Director of the Via Avanta Residential Addiction Treatment Center for Women. Holly is responsible for overseeing the administration, program development, fiscal management, and staff supervision of a 70 bed non-profit long term residential treatment program for women and children. 

Prior to her current position, Holly started her career as a counselor in DUI and hospital-based programs.  In 1993 she worked with the seriously mentally ill as an addiction counselor and then quickly moved into management positions.

Ms. McCravey received a Masters degree in teaching from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. In addition, she is certified by NAADAC and with Breining Institute as a Registered Addiction Specialist (RAS).

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