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Meet Tillamook Family Counseling Center’s New Clinical Directors

At The Tillamook Family Counseling Center, we take pride in our highly qualified team of behavioral health professionals. Today, we are thrilled to shine a spotlight on two exceptional individuals who have recently stepped into the positions of Clinical Directors. Terri Syversen and Michele Riggs have risen to these new challenges with dedication and compassion. They each have an inspiring journey and commitment to enhancing the well-being of our community.

Terri and Michele’s Story

Terri is a lifelong resident of Tillamook and began with TFCC working

in the front office. It was during that time when Terri became close friends with a case manager on the addictions team, who eventually moved into the CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor) position. Encouraged by her friend and supported by the agency, Terri took the leap and became a case manager. At that time, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a clinician, but the encouragement of another supervisor led her to pursue a CADC certification.

Terri - Clinical Director

Embracing continuous learning, Terri received her Bachelor’s degree in Addictions Treatment. Soon after with support from the agency, Terri pursued a Master’s in Mental Health. Graduating in 2015, she equipped herself with a comprehensive skill set to come alongside individuals and support them in dealing with the many facets of life. Today, as a supervisor, Terri shares her experience and compassion with her team and clients.

Michele’s personal history of lived experience is a significant part of

her journey into the behavioral health field. She has been in recovery for over 20 years. She is originally from Washington State where her family still lives. She originally thought she wanted to be a probationary officer and had never really considered a career in social services. In a meeting with her academic advisor during her undergraduate program, it was suggested that she consider social work. In 2011, she graduated with her MSW – Master’s in Social Work. “It’s never too late. My time to explore higher education came later in life. Everything that I’ve gone through is what has got me to where I am today,” Michele said.

Michele

Wanting to be closer to family, Michele moved to Tillamook in 2016 when she began working with TFCC. Michele’s lived experience adds a unique dimension to her role as a supervisor, helping her understand and support both her team and clients. Michele does her best to support her team and staff members. “Understanding that the work we do is sometimes very hard emotionally, it is my responsibility to support the staff that work with me in recognizing when they need to access their own self-care or care for self.” Caring for ourselves allows us to continue supporting individuals as they work on their own recovery, whatever that may look like. “When individuals allow us to walk with them, it is very powerful, and I am humbled that I am allowed to be a part of their journey.”

Challenges and Growth in the Community

Terri highlighted the challenges faced by the community in the aftermath of the pandemic. The lack of social contact has resulted in increased rates of depression and strained relationships. Additionally, the community grapples with the devastating impact of the fentanyl crisis. However, Terri also shared about the positive development initiated during the pandemic of improved communication between medical providers and the Tillamook County Health Department. A bi-directional referral system has proven to be a significant positive impact.

Michele highlighted housing as a significant challenge in the community. Additionally, as the supervisor of the Prime+ Program, she also sees that individuals accessing care on their terms can be a struggle. Nonetheless, the Prime+ Program and Peers, with its strong working relationship with the Tillamook Community Health Center and other community partners, has been instrumental in providing much-needed support. Together through street outreach and community events, the Peers have been able to reach people in our community experiencing houselessness, stigma, and other barriers to accessing treatment. “We provide people with information, naloxone kits, food, water, and help to get their basic needs met, “Michele shared.

Working as a Team

As supervisors, Terri and Michele share a complementary skill set making them an excellent team. They emphasize the importance of open communication and being available to their team, fostering an environment of trust and growth. Their lived experiences have helped them connect with their staff and clients on a deeper level, understanding the complexities of their struggles and journeys to recovery.

The Tillamook Family Counseling Center is both excited and proud to have Michele and Terri stepping into their new roles as clinical supervisors. We are confident that their leadership will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of those we serve and inspire the entire community.

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