Laurie Watter, RN, BSN, received her undergraduate degree in nursing and healthcare from Alfred University and a graduate certificate in Addiction and Recovery from the University of Florida. Her professional focus changed direction when she learned first-hand of the ways in which chemical dependency can impact a family. She is a nationally certified family recovery coach and support group facilitator, providing encouragement and guidance to others who are dealing with addiction and codependency. Laurie takes many diverse learning opportunities to broaden her skills and more effectively serve the needs of individuals and families affected by addiction. Get to know Laurie on a deeper level in our first weekly staff highlight!
Staff Highlight – Laurie Watter
I was born and raised in New Jersey and continue to live there today. I have been married to my sleep-away camp sweetheart for almost 40 years and would choose him all over again. We have two adult children; a son who lives in California and will be married next summer to a wonderful woman, and a daughter who lives in Florida and has a beautiful 2-year-old son.
I first got interested in the realm of recovery (specifically family recovery) when a family member went to residential treatment for a substance use disorder. I had previously believed that we had the ‘perfect’ family; that I was the ‘perfect’ mother, married to the ‘perfect’ husband and father. At the suggestion of professionals, I started to look at my relationships, family of origin, and parenting style. In addition, I began working with a therapist, and started to attend 12-step meetings for codependency. I got a sponsor and began to work a program. When I better understood myself, my behaviors, and the ways in which they were negatively impacting myself and my loved ones, I learned and started to practice thinking and behaving differently. I continue to do work in all these areas, and have been amazed at the concept of family recovery. As I started to grow and experience so many new concepts and ideas that I had I never considered, I became more and more passionate about helping other families achieve a similar outlook.
My background is in nursing. I have worked in various areas of nursing (pediatrics, orthopedics, home care, medical/surgical) but spent the majority of my career working with children with special needs and their families. When I realized that I wanted to pursue something in the field of recovery, I went back to the University of Florida’s School of Medicine for a graduate certificate in Addiction and Recovery, and completed an additional program to be certified as a family recovery coach. Presently, I am completing the requirements to be a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I became involved with Next Chapter through our clinical director Abe Antine. I had observed Abe while he was a primary therapist with another treatment program and was fascinated by his ability to relate to his clients and understand the challenges that families faced. As Abe moved forward in his career, he shared with me his vision for addiction and trauma treatment; I knew I wanted to be part of this program, hence, my Next Chapter.
My nursing experience gives me a bit of a holistic and medical perspective on substance abuse, addiction and trauma. Although I am not employed by Next Chapter in the capacity of a nurse, it is my foundation, and it is this underlying compassion that allows me to interact with people in a certain capacity. Coupled with my personal experience in family recovery and that of having a family member go through treatment, relapse and – just for today – recovery, I bring a tremendous amount of empathy, strength, and hope to others on this journey. I love meeting new people and building relationships; Next Chapter has been a wonderful program to with which to venture out and share with clinicians and other people across the country.
There is so much about Next Chapter that makes me incredibly proud to represent and be a part of the team; the clinical excellence, the maturity and patience of the residential staff, the support of the administrative staff, and the consistent teamwork amongst the admissions and outreach folks. I think the communication is second-to-none. There are frequent and appropriate updates amongst staff so that everyone, including referents, are aware of the progress and/or challenges with the individual clients and the program as a whole. Most importantly, the treatment team takes such a strong interest in working with the patients to find success; assessing their needs, communicating with each other, and working as a team with the best interest of each patient at the forefront of their decisions. I feel tremendously supported in my role at Next Chapter and I could not ask to be part of a better team.
In the years ahead, I hope that I am able to connect professionals who share the same ethical principles and vision of clinical excellence in addiction and trauma treatment with the team at Next Chapter.
As far as personal goals go, I suppose I would eventually like to see myself spending more time in Florida (closer to my grandson) and perhaps having more contact with clients and their families. I am not sure yet what that would look like: possibly connecting families with each other for ongoing support, professional development programs, attending the family programs… All I know for certain is that the future is bright, and I am greatly looking forward to what lies ahead. It is almost one year since I started with Next Chapter and I feel incredibly blessed to have this opportunity to follow my dreams working with such wonderful people and a stellar, individualized treatment program.