Meet Our Team: Melanis Rivera-Rodriguez

Melanis Rivera-Rodriguez_PsyD_Primary TherapistOliver-Pyatt Centers Primary Therapist Melanis Rivera Rodriguez, PsyD shares a glimpse into her work at OPC in this week’s blog post. As part of the Casa Azul team, Melanis works with other eating disorder professionals to offer the best care possible to the women in the program. Read more about Melanis in this week’s Meet Our Team…

What is your name and what are your credentials?

My name is Melanis Rivera Rodríguez, and I am a Doctor in Psychology (PsyD).

Please give us a brief description of your background.

My background is in Clinical Psychology with a particular interest in Clinical Health Psychology, which focuses on the combination of mental health and physical health in terms of the mind-body connection. Over the past three years, my focus has been on chronic illnesses, and I have had the opportunity over the past two years to work with eating disorders. This has allowed me to witness a client’s healing from the mind and body perspective as a whole.

What does a typical day look like for you at OPC?

I work at the Comprehensive level of care at Casa Azul (shout out to all Azulians!), and a typical day can start between 9:30 am and 10:00 am with catching up on emails and checking in with the staff/recovery coaches about any events from the night before or early in the morning. On Monday mornings, I have the opportunity to facilitate the Dialectic Behavioral Therapy skills group (DBT), which depending on the milieu can be a crowd pleaser or difficult experience for some of the women. During the afternoon, I meet with the women in my case load individually and during the evening on Wednesdays join them for the support dinner which gives us the opportunity to relate as we would if we were having a meal at a restaurant or out with others. Whenever I have a chance during the afternoon snack, I sit with the women, chat, or maybe play a game. This is a great chance to know them at a different level even if I’m not working with some of them individually.

In your own words, please describe the philosophy of OPC.

I believe that OPC’s philosophy speaks to holistic healing, listening to yourself, your body and mind, trusting that over time there is more room for your true self to make the continued decision to recover and less room for the eating disorder to have control. The intuitive eating philosophy allows for that awareness of what our bodies need and over time making those choices naturally. From the medical and therapeutic perspective, it connects to viewing the person who is in treatment, not as a set of parts but as a whole human being that is attempting to synchronize, learn and develop a set of skills that will allow them to recover from an eating disorder and have an alternative approach towards moving forward in life.

How does your team work together? How do your roles overlap and differ?

In my experience, team work is and has been the root of what I have witnessed at OPC for over the last two years. Everyone understands their role and how to support one another when needed. I have noticed that roles might overlap when in therapeutic sessions a nutritional/medical message might need to be reinforced or vice versa the nutritionist, nurse or physician might need to help the client bring up the connection between the eating disorder, food and struggles with body image, family, etc… Communication has been key in being able to come together and join in our diverse roles and at the same time learn from each area such as: nutrition, medical, psychiatry and staffing support in order to provide the women with the best and most restorative treatment opportunity.

What is your favorite thing about OPC?

My favorite part of OPC is the teamwork component and interdisciplinary effort that is felt and provided. You never feel that you are working alone and help is always available in the joint effort of helping the women heal. Especially having lunch as a team allows for consultation, support and fun conversations that allow us to process the work that we do in a caring way.

What are three facts about you that people do not know?

Most people don’t know that I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and I moved to Miami almost 4 years ago.

I was a college cheerleader for the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey campus team.

I volunteer for the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness outreach and education committee which has been a wonderful experience.

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