What is your name and what are your credentials?
Melissa McLain, PhD, CEDS – Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist
Please give us a brief description of your background.
Growing up as a ballet dancer, I was surrounded by eating disorder and body image issues from a young age. Since eating disorders were an issue that I had been aware of, I made them my concentration area while in graduate school. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and I quickly learned that many mental health professionals were not willing to take them on. However, the more I studied and worked with eating disorders, the more I became passionate about helping individuals struggling with them.
As such, I completed my internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California Davis as the Eating Disorder Program Coordinator. In this role I found that much of my work on campus was referring students to more intensive treatment centers where they could get the help they needed. I found myself wanting to work at such a place myself where I could really “dig in” to help on the ground level.
I met Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt nearly six years ago and was in awe of her passion and vision for creating an individualized treatment program. As a result, it wasn’t all that difficult for Wendy to convince this “California girl” to relocate to Miami to work at the soon-to-be Oliver-Pyatt Centers. It has been such an honor over the past years watching as the program has expanded and grown – all while maintaining a small, intimate, individualized feel. I am incredibly proud to be a part of OPC.
What does a typical day look like for you at Oliver-Pyatt Centers?
I think I have the best job at OPC! As Clinical Director of Casa Rosada my work day consists of a fabulous combination of individual, group and family therapy, staff supervision and support, programmatic development and oversight and marketing and outreach, both locally and nationally. Most important to me is the clinical work – meeting weekly with every woman staying in my house. In knowing them individually, it allows me a relational grounding that helps as I oversee their care amidst our multidisciplinary team.
In your own words, please describe the philosophy of Oliver-Pyatt Centers.
Step One – get to know, and love, the person in front of you who is in need of help. Step Two – do whatever it takes to help them to recover. I consider myself a fierce opponent to any eating disorder dwelling in someone I’m working with. I fight hard to make sure the women that step outside of Casa Rosada are fully equipped to take on the “hostile” recovery environment that awaits them.
What would you say is the personality of your casa?
Casa Rosada was the original program that began OPC and we are proud of it….we are proud to call ourselves the “pink ladies”! However, as proud as we are of our individual identity as a “casa,” all of our houses are warm, comfortable and welcoming. All of the staff are incredible; we all make time to assure that someone’s experience at OPC will be an amazing one regardless of what house they are placed in.
What is your favorite thing about Oliver-Pyatt Centers?
I love that when I get up every morning I have a new opportunity to make a positive difference in the life of someone that I care about. It is a gift that I cannot imagine ever getting tired of.
What are three facts about you that people do not know?
1. I am really quite afraid of the birds that nest in the trees outside of OPC every spring (they are very squawky and scary, if you ask me, and they really do fly directly at your head!) 2. Chocolate covered pretzels are my favorite snack at OPC. 3. Most of the staff know that I would love to get a therapy dog! Hopefully sometime soon!
Is there any additional information you want to share with our readers?
One of my favorite quotes: “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart” -Confucius