Manny Occhiogrosso, LMHC, has 20 years of experience in the mental health and addiction field as a therapist, consultant, and healthcare administrator. As a Regional Executive Director, he brings to Newport Academy a wealth of knowledge and experience administering treatment programs, with a proven track record of maintaining high-quality clinical care and high rates of success. A Licensed Mental Health Counselor certified by the National Board of Counselors, Manny is passionate about working with children and adolescents, and has done so in a variety of settings—with their families in their homes, in hospitals and residential treatment, and in private practice. He specializes in treating addiction, anxiety disorders, codependency, and family conflict, works extensively with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and has developed trauma programs utilizing EMDR, hypnotherapy, expressive arts, and experiential modalities. As a qualified clinical supervisor since 2006, he mentors mental health professionals in their lifelong goals of helping clients and their families.
My Five Fundamental Beliefs
1. Pathological behaviors are a symptom of an underlying, untreated problem.
Like depression and anxiety, behavioral problems such as anger, apathy, and substance abuse also have their roots in a deep, unexplored area of the psyche. With the understanding that “identity” is the main developmental stage for the adolescent, I often use the term “discovery” instead of “recovery” when talking about the healing process. Discovery can be an exciting experience for the client, as well as a pathway for the therapist to help the client discover what truths the maladaptive behavior is hiding.
2. Perception is reality.
It is human nature to hold reality as limited by what we can perceive. The therapeutic process enables us to change our vantage point so we can better understand the problems we are challenged with and develop solutions to those problems. The psychotherapeutic work is targeted to the individual needs of each client, and is paced according to the clients’ ability and progress. Yet it approaches treatment from a existential point of view that, once shifted for the client, acts as an unbreakable lens through which the client can see their external world anew and thus understand themselves in a similarly new way.
3. We should not expect our clients to do something we would not do.
Learning new behaviors is not limited to clients in treatment settings. Everyone must learn new behaviors in different situations in their lives, whether that’s at home, work, school, or in their neighborhood. When we as staff make the commitment to engage and participate in the change process with our clients, our attitude will not only be more conducive to treatment, but also the treatment will be more effective, because the client will feel a genuine caring and attempt at understanding by the therapist. The sheer sense of faith and trust that results from this relationship is curative in and of itself.
4. It takes a village.
In a Dialectical Behavior Therapy approach, therapists hold as a core belief that, while clients may not have caused all of their own problems, they have to solve them anyway. This does not mean that they need to do it alone. Over and over again, studies show that therapy is more effective with children and adolescents when family and other important people in the client’s life are involved in the therapeutic process. That’s why, at Newport Academy, we dedicate as much time as we do to family therapy, with the specific goal of repairing and strengthening the relationship between clients and their families.
5. Residential treatment is more than medication and therapy.
There is a gestalt that occurs in residential treatment that you simply cannot attain in outpatient settings. All of our activities, whether we are dining together, cleaning the house, or doing laundry, we do with the aim of building cohesion among clients and providing a setting for clients to have a meaningful and therapeutic experience. Experiential learning and adventure programs further enhance treatment by using the natural environment as a radical playground for clients to have additional transformative experiences. Noted psychologist Abraham Maslow described these moments or “peak experiences” as “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality and are even mystic and magical in their effect.”
Newport Academy …in his own words
“Newport Academy provides opportunities for self-growth and healing, and to start anew free of the chains of guilt and shame about past behavior. Clients’ experiences here are catalysts for better relationships, greater self-confidence, and a happier future.” – Manny Occhiogrosso