Life Challenge Community and Events Coordinator
The Oaks at La Paloma
Background & Credentials
Born and raised in Memphis, Carol Ricossa earned a Master’s degree in counseling education from the University of Memphis, having completed her undergraduate studies at Memphis State with a major in psychology and a minor in art. She is certified as a massage therapist and as a group exercise instructor.
Question & Answer
What makes you passionate about treatment and recovery?
I’m extremely compassionate in the first place, and to be able to aid and assist in any way I can to help these people on the wellness path, it’s sheer joy and a real honor.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Getting to check in with my alumni after they leave and hear that they’re moving forward, they’ve completed their IOP [Intensive Outpatient Program], their marriage is strengthening, they got a new job, etc. Happy news of new beginnings!
What would you say to families going through the process of treatment with a loved one?
I would say, “Take extremely good care of yourself. Get yourself some support. Be gentle and loving with yourself.”
What’s your daily routine?
There’s no typical day at work for me. I’m always in the middle of planning an event: booking bands, catering, ordering things. There’s always an event around the corner. Then I meet with a patient or two as part of our mentoring program. I also make 10 or 15 alumni calls, I work on my art projects twice a week, work on professionals’ weekend, call families to invite them to family weekend.
What do you do to stay energized during the day?
I drink about 65 ounces of water. I eat a complete vegetarian meal, work out and teach aerobics.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I like to paint, make jewelry, walk, play with my kitty cats, cook lovely gourmet meals with my friends and do a lot of volunteer work.
If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
I’d go back to my grandma’s roots in Valenza, Italy. That’s on my bucket list.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three books, what would you choose?
My favorite authors. The Road Less Traveled, an old self-help book, Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone and Wherever You Go, There You Are [by Jon Kabat-Zinn]. That’s one spiritual book, one self-help book and one novel.
How do you know when someone is “getting it” in the treatment/recovery process?
I can usually tell by someone’s voice. When I call them, I can hear the light, I can feel the energy. They’re also more involved in the community.
What advice do you have for people who are entering treatment today?
Have a very, very open heart and an open mind. Don’t try to predict what might happen. Just go with it and trust the process. Everyone has a different battle, but we’re all the same. We’re all struggling. No one’s exempt.
What advice do you have for people who are struggling to maintain their recovery?
I would ask all the obvious things: Are you going to meetings? Do you need to reconnect with your higher path? On top of that, I’d have them call someone from treatment who’s doing well. I don’t have any magic pills. Usually if they’re struggling, they’ve already relapsed, and I can help. I can call people and hook them up. I encourage them: “Call your friends, go back to your therapist, call your sponsor or get a new sponsor.” The key is to reconnect.
How have you been inspired by people in recovery?
I’ve been inspired in so many ways. The first thing that comes to mind is their courage. It takes such heroic courage to drop everything and put your life on hold and commit to going to treatment. I’m inspired by that regularly.
Favorite quote or best advice you’ve ever received?
My best advice ever is my mother’s favorite quote: “To thine own self be true.” If you can’t start there, you can’t go forward. I love that quote, and it also works as advice.