When Becca Davis was a young girl, she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up: a singer, hairstylist and counselor, all rolled into one. Decades later, life propelled her into the counseling field and she found a position that allows her to do what she loves. The addictions field was a natural fit for Becca. A native of Pennsylvania, she moved to Nashville for college, where she began her personal recovery from addiction. It was this journey that inspired her to pursue a career in counseling to help others with similar issues. She went back to school for a master’s degree in counseling and accepted a position at an addiction treatment center working with adolescents. In 2011, she joined The Ranch and is currently working toward her doctorate degree in counseling and her license as a professional counselor.
The Role of the Residential Assistant
As residential manager at The Ranch, Becca is involved in program development and supervises a staff of about 70 residential assistants. She is also the program director for the men’s co-occurring disorders program at River House. Although widely overlooked, Becca believes the role of the residential assistant is one of the most important at any treatment center. “Clients spend more time with the RAs than any other staff member,” she says. “The RAs are there 24/7 and the rapport they build is one of the most important contributors to a client’s success in treatment.” The job of the residential assistant is also extremely challenging. RAs are closely connected with clients and care about them and their success. At the same time, they must maintain clear boundaries and understand that clients’ behavior (which is sometimes angry or disrespectful) isn’t a personal affront on the RA but an expression of the pain they’re facing. Thus, the ideal RA, Becca says, is someone who can stay calm in the face of a challenge, someone who understands that rules and boundaries help clients feel safe and cared for, and someone who holds the highest respect for clients and their recovery process. According to her colleagues, Becca fit the bill perfectly and is ideally suited to the position of residential manager.
A Safe Place to Heal
Becca was drawn to The Ranch, in part, by its breadth of services and capacity to treat a wide range of clients, including those with moderate to severe psychiatric illness. “The Ranch is able to treat severely wounded and traumatized individuals who would likely need referrals to outside providers at most treatment facilities,” Becca says. “Clients with high acuity thrive here because they feel safe and they have access to all of the services they need in one place.” Clients have options in their treatment because The Ranch recognizes that each individual has unique needs. In addition, Becca says, “no idea is turned down.” Staff members are encouraged to share ideas and think outside the box to get clients whatever they need to heal. The result? “We see miracles happen every day,” Becca says.
The Pieces Fall Into Place
Becca has been particularly inspired by the changes she sees in people receiving residential treatment. In this setting, people have the opportunity to not only learn new skills but to practice them in their day-to-day lives. “In a sense, The Ranch is a laboratory where clients can practice new behaviors with other people who are doing the same thing,” she says. “It’s a place where it’s okay to be uncomfortable and to experiment. That way, when clients go back home, they have new ways of being in relationship with the people who are most important to them.” Becca believes in the effectiveness of treatment as she experienced it firsthand. One year into her own recovery, her 12-Step sponsor recommended that she go to treatment. There, she learned about boundaries, being her authentic self, and getting her needs met in healthy ways. She also worked through unresolved issues stemming from her adoption at age 7. “Going to treatment was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made, but it was also one of the best,” Becca recalls. “At first it felt like a fear I couldn’t get past. I made every excuse not to go. But what I learned is that if you walk through the fear you’ll realize this is exactly what you needed to do. I’ve faced what seemed like impossible fears many times in recovery, but if you just put one foot in front of the other it’s amazing how the pieces fall into place.”