Hidden Hero: Abby Hamdan

Welcome to our new Hidden Heroes Series where we highlight behavioral health heroes amongst our amazing clients. As we all know too well, working in behavioral health is both rewarding and incredibly challenging. We want to yell from the rooftops about how amazing our clients are so that these unsung heroes are recognized for the lifesaving work they do.

This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This week is all about raising awareness of eating disorders and giving those who are impacted by eating disorders and their family hope, support, and visibility. Today’s Hidden Hero is Abby Hamdan from the Center for Discovery, where they help patients recover from eating disorders using evidence-based treatment and their Real-Life Recovery™ approach.

Abby Hamdan portrait
Abby Hamdan, Director of Operations – Residential at Center for Discovery

Abby has been with the Center for Discovery for 11 years, starting off as a Supervisor of Facility Managers in 2012 to now being the Director of Operations of Residential! She is passionate about empowering Muslim women, volunteering with Muslim Women Professionals (MWP) as the People Operations Associate, where she helps foster professional development, systematize internal processes, and work with brilliant Muslim women.  We got to interview Abby about working in the eating disorder space and how rewarding the work can be.

How did you get into the behavioral health industry? 

From the moment I started college, I knew I wanted to work in the behavioral health realm, so I majored in psychology. I had a few internships while in school and worked in ABA therapy before beginning at the Center for Discovery, which was the start of my career in eating disorder treatment. 

What is your WHY for working in behavioral health? 

I grew up in a very small town that had little to no resources for individuals needing support. And even if they needed support, there was shame around asking for help. In addition, I grew up in up in a Muslim household where there were also stigmas around vulnerability and therapy. My WHY is that representation matters – I want to provide representation and I want to shift the cultural expectations around therapy and asking for help. 

What was the moment you realized you love what you do? 

There is not just one specific moment that sticks out, but instead so many little moments that have happened throughout my career. For example, all the moments I got to watch our patients go through the messiness of the treatment process and discharge with smiles on their faces. And being a mentor to counselors who begin their careers on day one, are intimidated working with the eating disorder population, and then fast forward to hearing them during their annual review say they can no longer picture themselves working with any other population. Being part of the messy process when it gets hard, for patients and staff, and watching them work through it, are the moments I live for. 

What are your wins or accomplishments that keep you motivated? 

Now contributing from the Operations side of the eating disorder treatment process, I no longer see patients on a day-to-day basis. However, knowing I still have an indirect impact on a patient’s care is a win for me. In every project I work on, I get to bring that direct patient experience with me to better produce solutions for the treatment experience as a whole.

What have you learned throughout your career that has impacted your personal life and how you navigate through your personal self-care? 

The experience I’ve gained while working in the eating disorder field revealed the misconceptions of eating disorders and better equipped me to navigate them. It also exposed me to the negative impacts that social media and diet culture can have on individuals. Through this, I have learned not to place pressure on myself to look a certain way or restrict myself from enjoying delicious foods. Having this mindset has been freeing and able to allow me to live in joy, not in guilt.

We are highlighting our hidden heroes monthly! Have someone in mind? Please nominate them to be featured. 

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