Staff Spotlight: Alex Montes, Program Assistant
Alex Montes has worked for The Emily Program since 2016 as a Program Assistant and an Outpatient Therapist Trainee at locations in St. Louis Park and Saint Paul, MN. Alex is a queer, second generation immigrant. She identifies as both Mexican and Latina, coming from a mixed race and mixed cultural household.
TEP: Tell us about yourself!
Alex: It is impossible for me to talk about myself without talking about my parents, who have incredible stories filled with resiliency and who have provided and sacrificed for their children to provide wonderful opportunities. Without them, I would not be here and I would not be who I am today, which has me proud to be called their daughter.
At The Emily Program, I have worked in Outpatient, Intensive Outpatient Programs, and Intensive Day Programs both for adults and adolescents. Social work has a long history of advocacy, and I am passionate about incorporating advocacy both personally and professionally. It is a responsibility we hold in our communities to speak out, build capacity, lean into discomfort and we have the opportunity to do so in our workplace. That being said, I am also thankful to have found allies at TEP to increase inclusivity and compassion at work, so thank you to everyone!
TEP: Why did you choose to work for The Emily Program?
Alex: I started working at The Emily Program the summer of 2016 after I graduated with my Master of Social Work degree from the University of Pittsburgh. I had been working with the eating disorder population in my internship and while visiting family over the summer, on a whim, I reached out the The Emily Program regarding job opportunities. We set up a time for an interview and I was hired as a Pre-Independent Licensed Therapist. I have always been interested in working with the eating disorder population, and with working in the complex relationship between biological, psychological, and social factors that impact folks with eating disorders.
TEP: What can clients expect in outpatient therapy?
Alex: Outpatient therapy can be what a person needs it to be. In my work with folks, the space is for the client and we have the opportunity to build it into the space they need for care. From my perspective, providers are there to support, facilitate, and create space with clients and families while working to find and increase a sense of empowerment. We pull forward all the intersections, identities, and strengths of a person’s life we can use to support their process.
TEP: What’s your favorite part about your job?
Alex: I love working with adolescents and watching the amazing work they do in rewriting their own story. To me, they are impressive, resilient, hopeful, and such wonderfully creative people. I have always felt an immense sense of honor to be a part of people’s stories while they struggle with one of the most difficult periods of their life. The work they do is hard and painful and yet they continue to persevere. They are proof that things can and do change.
TEP: What advice would you offer someone struggling with an eating disorder?
Alex: Letting someone in to see what you are struggling with can feel vulnerable and terrifying. Eating disorders benefit from living in secrecy, with no one knowing the real pain, and in that hiding, eating disorders can continue to drive disconnection. Your voice can be a powerful thing. Start to talk about your experience, your story, with folks you can trust and feel safe around. You do not need to be alone, there are people who are here for you, will listen to you, and will walk this path with you.
TEP: What’s your favorite food?
TEP: What is one thing people don’t know about you?
Alex: I have a soft spot for things people might consider “nerdy,” like Magic the Gathering, comics, anime, superheroes, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.