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The Gift collaboration


When a company turns 50 there are moments when you look back and remember the many milestones and accomplishments throughout the years. Crestwood has had many of these milestones and the one common thread throughout our 50 years of memories is our ability to join forces through collaboration and create a synergy to support those who are in need the most. This ability is based on Crestwood’s belief that the best things happen when we engage with and support each other to meet the ever-increasing mental health needs of the people of California. By sharing our resources, we believe we are stronger as a community to serve people with mental health issues. For Crestwood, we recently added a new significant milestone to our history with the opening of our newest Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (MHRC), the San Francisco Healing Center, which was made possible through an amazing collaboration effort.

Collaboration has been defined at Crestwood as the beauty of giving and receiving. It is a partnership, an alliance and a relationship. It is the space where we connect in a common purpose. The San Francisco Healing Center (SFHC) came together through a true collaboration between Crestwood and remarkable people and organizations including the late Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee; the current Mayor of San Francisco, Mark Farrell; Aneeka Chaudhry, the Mayor’s Office Senior Advisor/Health Policy; Barbara Garcia, San Francisco’s Director of Public Health for the San Francisco Department of Public Health; Kelly Hiramoto, Director of Transitions for the San Francis- co Department of Public Health; Maga Jackson-Triche, UCSF Health’s Vice President of Adult Behavioral Health Services; Rita Ogden, UCSF Health’s Direc- tor-Project Manager; John Allen, President of St. Mary’s Medical Center; Lloyd Dean, President & CEO of Dignity Health; and Mark Laret, President & CEO of UCSF Health.


SFHC Ribbon Cutting_preview

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at SFHC’s Open House (L to R) Barbara Garcia, Mayor Farrell, Lloyd Dean, London Breen, Maga Jackson-Triche and Sister Mary Kieffer


At Crestwood we believe collaboration is a value of the heart. It recognizes the ability to create synergy and requires more than a plan or an intention it requires humility. Humility allows us to recognize and identify when we make mistakes or that others may have better solutions. Humility demonstrates a strength that many organizations shy away from – the strength to learn from mistakes, allow others to take the credit and share the spotlight on support for the people we serve.

Collaboration also requires committed, intentional and active communication. At Crest- wood this communication focuses on transparency, with the intention to enable all parties to have a voice, for messages to be heard, and for respect to be present even during painful confrontations. Communication is built on a foundation of boundaries and ethics. There must be mutuality and respect for communication to be effective.

Listening is another key ingredient in collaboration. Tara Brach, a psychologist, author and teacher of meditation and emotional healing, states that listening is more than a communications skill; it is a capacity that arises from a receptive presence and awakens our awareness. As we learn to listen inwardly, we begin to understand and care more for others.

Collaboration at Crestwood has also grown through gratitude. The opportunity to sense supreme gratefulness is a key ingredient of collaboration. An example of this type of gratitude was demonstrated by St. Mary’s Medical Center offering to lease the 5th floor in their building to our SFHC, so that more mental health services will be available in the community to help this most disenfranchised population.

Our S.F. Healing Center exemplifies another characteristic of collaboration with creativity. This program grew from the belief Kelly Hiramoto had that one day we would find the right location for a recovery-oriented MHRC, rich in evidence-based and promising practices. Kelly then worked with Barbara Garcia to bring together the partnership of San Francisco, Dignity Health, St. Mary’s Medical Center, UCSF and Crestwood to grow the program.

Lastly, collaboration requires patience. Patience is defined as the ability to wait, to continue doing something despite difficulties. Collaboration takes time and there are many bumps in the road, delays and difficulties. Patience allows us to “Keep our eyes on the prize,” which is the ultimate goal. It enables us to weather the difficulties, knowing the outcome, such as the San Francisco Healing Center, will be well worth the struggle and wait.

During the past 50 years at Crestwood, we have had numerous examples of collaboration, resulting from our patience, creativity, gratitude, listening, communication and humility. Crest- wood collaborates every day, at every program and campus, to bring the highest-level of service to our clients. Today, at our San Francisco Healing Center, collaboration has made it possible to have more mental health recovery services be provided to the people in greatest need, which is a victory for all who came together to make it a reality.

Contributed by:
Patricia Blum, PhD
Crestwood Executive Vice President

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The Lessons of Change


At Crestwood Center San Jose MHRC, they have been going through major changes, both physically and programmatically. The campus has undergone major reconstructive surgery, and now has a beautiful design similar to our other Crestwood programs. The design changes have brought about a more homelike environment and their clients are enjoying new areas, such as two living rooms, a comfort room, a serenity room, a group room, a library, and a den. Walls have been painted in soothing colors, lovely decor has been placed throughout the building, and new, stylish flooring has been installed.

San Jose Dining Room

Crestwood San Jose’s new design of their dining room also includes a living space that clients can also use for Xbox Connect games, karaoke, and entertainment when eating their meals.

On the program side, a mindful effort has been made to not only embrace the Crestwood Values (Family, Commitment, Compassion, Enthusiasm, Collaboration, Character, and Flexibility), but to also actively practice them in the staff’s daily activities. They have also incorporated a more comprehensive program schedule, opened up the patio area, and expanded their outing and pass policy. With these efforts, they continue to maintain the important focus on recovery, program success, and preparedness for community re-entry for their clients.

During this remodel and program changes, the staff learned some important lessons, such as any major change starts with the Administrator and Department Heads, and then it needs to be embraced by the entire team. “The change process may be challenging for some, even if it is perceived as positive or good, because it means saying goodbye to what we are familiar and comfortable with,” said Angele Suarez, the MHRC’s Program Director. Campus Administrator, Michael Bargagliotti, added, “It is human nature to be drawn to comfort and security, regardless of the outcome, because it is something that is known and we know what to expect. The change process introduces an insecurity and emotional instability that can cause people to react with resistance, fear or anger.”

To help with managing the challenges of change, the staff at Crestwood Center San Jose found that implementing a few key measures such as maintaining an open mind, being optimistic, asking questions and helping others with the changes, made a huge difference in how everyone dealt with what was happening around them.

“By maintaining an open mind, even though we may not always agree with the changes being implemented, we can actively listen and analyze the information, and then we can form an honest and genuine opinion about the changes. We might even surprise ourselves on how much we like the ideas,” said Angele.

The staff found that by being optimistic, even though people might be currently unhappy with the changes, can be helpful since negativity usually comes from a fear of the unknown. By not being able to predict the future, a good strategy is to then focus on the present moment with a positive attitude, which can create an optimistic outlook towards the future.

The staff also encouraged everyone to ask a lot of questions because it is important for each person to not only be notified of the changes that are occurring, but to also understand the reason behind the changes. Asking questions provides everyone with the needed information to make informed choices.

“And we found that one of the best ways to help ourselves with change is to focus on helping others with change. Helping others takes the focus off ourselves, allowing us to connect with our peers, and we can then become a part of the change process through positive interactions,” said Angele.

“At Crestwood, we know that we will always be part of innovative recovery practices and leadership. The best part of innovative change is that you end up creating a culture that is not only open to the concept, but takes on that personality. At Crestwood Center San Jose, as we continually work towards providing the best recovery program for our clients, going through change will allow us to continue our evolution, and never stop searching for our better self,” said Michael.

Change is inevitable in life and usually out of our control; however, how we respond to the change is completely in our control. How will you choose to change and how will you choose to respond? It is all up to you.

Contributed by:
Angele Suarez, Crestwood Center San Jose MHRC, Program Director,
Michael Bargagliotti, Crestwood Center San Jose, Campus Administrator

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Crestwood’s Core Values: Family


The family unit is one of the most important and influential social groups.  At some point in each of our lives, we are part of a family. Today we have expanded our definition of family beyond the “nuclear” reference and many people have created their own meaningful definition of family in their own lives.

In serving people challenged by mental health issues, Crestwood recognizes how essential family can be to the process of recovery. One of Crestwood’s Core Values is Family, which means our company is committed to providing safe, secure and responsive mental health services to the entire family.  It is estimated that up to 70% of people living with mental health issues live with a family member.


The needs of families for support, education, and information are evident.  At Crestwood American River, we seek out and actively engage with the family members of our clients, and have become acutely aware of the stress and conflict they are experiencing.  As a result, the American River campus offers a free-of-cost Family Support Group to help families navigate the systems designed to support their family member, provide an outlet for sharing, problem solving and processing of difficult feelings, and creating their own self-care plans.

Our Family Support Group was started in January 2015, and is led by Denise Thompson, MFTI, who is one of the Recovery Service Coordinators at the American River PHF.   The group is a psycho-educational community support group and is open to all family members of past and present clients.  The group is held bi-weekly without fail and members set the topics.  It is a safe, confidential place to share their healing journeys.  They share stories, learn coping skills and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) techniques, while connecting with each other. One member of the group, Jamie, is a key advocate for the creation of the group and has been regularly attending since it first began. When his family member was a client at Crestwood American River he asked for support, he asked for resources, and he volunteered to be a part of helping others in any way possible. “It is difficult to find the right words to describe the excruciating emotional pain created by seeing a loved one secluded in a mental health facility.  It is difficult as well to describe the gratitude after finding the desperate relief through the sessions offered by Crestwood,” explained Jamie. “When my family member began in the rehabilitation program at American River, my family and I, at that time, did not have support or knowledge of where to go.  All of this was done in order to make things easier for me, and to point us in the direction of the light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for opening this door of opportunity and healing, which is a great step for me, and for giving me the strength to persist and succeed.”

At Crestwood American River we feel honored to support our clients and their families.  We believe by providing support and education to the families and the community, it leads to inclusion and reduces stigma.  This is what living our Crestwood Values is all about.

Contributed by:
Stacy Small, Clinical Director


A Values-Driven Organization


A values-driven organization identifies its values through a process of self-examination.  This involves identifying the organizational purpose, the needs of the customer, assessing all strengths, deficits, and opportunities, as well as threats to the organization’s mission. It also entails taking an extensive and comprehensive 360 degree look at the entire organization, in other words, a non-compromising organizational soul-searching.

At Crestwood Behavioral Health, Inc. this self-examination involves a view of our organization, our communities, and our purpose which stems from four different perspectives.


The first view we examine is from the perspective of the organizational leadership which consists of our Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, executive leadership, program administrators and campus leadership.  Next we include our front line staff, mid-management staff and program supervisory staff.  This provides perspectives from all viewpoints in Crestwood.

The next vantage point that is vital to gaining the company’s full perspective is the client and family support system stakeholder group. This involves creating a safe space for our clients and their family voices to be heard.  The client and family are the primary voices to be listened to and it may take time, support and compassion to enable this perspective to be fully shared. At Crestwood we see this as the responsibility of the organizational leadership. One way we do this is to employ people with lived experience and have family members at the executive, management and front-line staff level job positions.

The next perspective that we include is from our county partners, customers, and the communities we provide services to. This perspective enables us to understand the needs of the community and provides the opportunity to develop and enhance meaningful relationships with our partners so we can better understand and anticipate the needs of the communities we work with.

Crestwood has developed its mission and values from gathering all of these different perspectives. Crestwood’s mission is to create a partnership with clients, employees, families, business associates and the community in caring for individuals of all ages affected by mental health issues. Together, we invest our energy to enhance the quality of life, social integration, community support and empowerment of mental health clients.  Crestwood promotes wellness and recovery by providing quality and cost-effective programs in a socially responsible manner, and works with families and communities to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

The values that were developed from this framework are simple and come from the heart. Crestwood’s values are family, compassion, enthusiasm, flexibility, character and commitment. It is through these values that Crestwood views all aspects of our operations. These values reflect the strength and vulnerability of Crestwood, with a focus on trauma-informed approaches with love and gratitude for the people and communities we serve and the staff and partners we work with.

Crestwood views all decisions, strategies, goals and objectives, and benchmarks for success based on these values.  Our organization is driven to achieve objectives and goals relying on the courage and strength to maintain the highest level of integrity, while honoring these shared values.

Having this values-driven perspective has allowed us to grow as partners in services with other community-based organizations such as Recovery Innovations, Turning Point and Dreamcatchers Empowerment Network. The understanding and recognition that our county and community partners provide the foundation for our services, enables Crestwood to develop community specific services, with the values of the community intertwined with Crestwood’s values.

The opening of our MHRC programs in San Diego and Chula Vista are an excellent example of involving all of these perspectives.  Crestwood worked very closely with the county and community leaders to identify the needs.  The community-based providers and hospitals helped Crestwood to find the right locations for the programs. The recruitment of employees was focused on hiring people with lived experience and allowing them to provide a strong client voice, as well having family members involved at all levels of service. We worked to include the voices of Crestwood San Diego’s and Crestwood Chula Vista’s leadership teams so that they could participate in all elements of program development, making it strong and reflecting all of Crestwood’s mission and values.

By being a values-driven organization and continuing to take a full 360 degree look at ourselves and our services, Crestwood will continue to grow and provide the best care possible for our clients and the communities we serve.

Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD, Crestwood Vice President

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First Impressions


In life we only get one chance for a few things – one of them is a first impression, so it’s vital we prepare ourselves to give an authentic and genuine one. In doing so, we share ourselves with others in the way we wish to be understood.  First impressions can be our calling card and they can be the one element or the one interaction that connects two people deeply.

At Crestwood Behavioral Health, we believe in the value of the first impression so we strive to make it the most authentic and positive one possible.  We create the opportunity to meet the person, whether it’s a client, a coworker, a family member or visitor, exactly where they are at. We have drawn from a course created in the hospitality industry called First Impressions to teach the skills needed to make this welcoming and warm first impression.  We included it in the curriculum lessons from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the 12-Step Program, Core Gifts, Trauma-Informed Care and Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). The course framework focuses on the principles of commitment, leadership, attitude, service and support.

The principle of commitment in the First Impressions course emphasizes how to do our very best each day, to make a difference in someone else’s life and by doing so, we then make a difference in our own lives. We commit ourselves to the Crestwood values of family, to holding ourselves with integrity, to compassionately doing our work, to being flexible and forthright, and to have a sense of humor and positive attitude about the serious and challenging moments that frequently occur in our day.

The leadership principle in the course focuses on leading by example. No matter what position you hold in life or at Crestwood, we are certain that we all have an opportunity and responsibility to lead. In life we are all leaders and we must demonstrate our values each day so that we create a sense of positive peer pressure, creating a culture of caring behavior by “paying it forward.”

Attitude is addressed in the course as being reflected in our actions. We promote healthy productive behavior through building skills to increase the self-esteem and sense of value of our clients and staff. We create an environment where skills are taught and practiced to enhance the lives of our clients, families and ourselves, whether it’s DBT, Trauma-Informed Care approaches or WRAP. This culture of learning creates a positive sense of self which turns into positive performance at Crestwood.

The service principle in the First Impressions course focuses on the work we do and so much more. It is being committed to come to work on time and making each moment count. It is having a smile. It is consistently meeting the needs of those around us with healthy boundaries, dignity and compassion.

And finally the principle of support is addressed on how it holds the first impression and the ongoing relationship together. Support of others starts with self-care. In Trauma-Informed Care approaches we say “put your mask on first, before you can help someone else”, so if you are not healthy and supported, then you cannot provide care and support to others.  Support includes anticipating the needs of co-workers, as well as clients. It is creating a healthy environment where we feel cared for and appreciated. This leads to our sense of pride in the work we do and the people we are.

The First Impressions class at Crestwood teaches each of these values and allows our staff to spend time together sharing their thoughts and developing the rapport to truly emanate team work. The opportunity is always there for a positive first impression and at Crestwood we seize the moment to do so.

Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD, Crestwood Vice President

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A Compass for Growth


Crestwood’s Values Providing a Compass for Growth

At Crestwood Behavioral Health Inc., we are excited about new opportunities.  So as Crestwood continues to grow, we always use our corporate values as the lens for every decision and change in direction. Our values are our compass to move forward as an organization and are revisited frequently throughout the year and always when we are faced with new opportunities, threats or decisions. Our values are simple: Commitment, Enthusiasm, Flexibility,  Integrity, Family, and Compassion. Each of these values holds its own set of principles and beliefs that act as a guiding force to us as a company internally, as well as externally in our relationships with stakeholders and partners.

Commitment is the glue that holds our organization together. It is the promise to follow through and to stay uncompromising to our vows and obligations.  Commitment is what binds us together as a work force; it is the motivation to get up and be on time for work because you don’t want to let your coworkers or clients down. It is the pledge to provide recovery-based, socially-responsible services for our clients.

Enthusiasm is exemplified in our tenure of excited and motivated employees. The average length of employment for Crestwood is seven years. Crestwood employees have  a strong pride in themselves and a natural enthusiasm for the work they do.  It is often seen in our facilities that staff members with 20 years of tenure are still as excited about what they do as our newest employees.

Flexibility is the hallmark of Crestwood. We continuously adjust and reinvent service models to utilize the most current research, evidenced-based practices and to meet the ever evolving needs of our communities. Flexibility allows us to provide our clients with the most appropriate programs and services. We understand – and strive to meet – the range and variety of mental health needs of our clients, their families and their communities. We provide innovative and effective programs and services that enhance our clients’ wellness and promote their recovery.

Integrity/Ethics is the cornerstone for all we do. Ethics is defined as morals, beliefs, and principles that are a system or defense for right and wrong conduct.  It seems simple, yet as we often read in news articles, hear at industry meetings, or observe in our own communities, it is often not so simple. Crestwood as an organization holds ethics as a core value.  In all of our partnerships, integrity, trust, respect and dependability are all non-negotiable. We hold corporate responsibility at the highest level of commitment. Through our continuous quality improvement and our performance improvement process, we analyze and recommit to providing the most ethical and efficient services to all of our stakeholders.

Family is the foundation that Crestwood was built on. We have a rich background of being founded by a family who are committed to the operations. Our partnerships with clients, their families, our staff, the community, business associates and volunteers all comprise the Crestwood family. We focus on family involvement and education and make every attempt, where appropriate, to bring in families as a part of client care.

Compassion at Crestwood is demonstrated with warmth, kindness and caring in everything we do for our clients and staff. We seek compassionate employees in the recruitment process and we nurture compassion in the training, supervision and general operations.  We honor the preservation of each client’s self-respect and dignity.

At Crestwood we live these values and use them as the barometer for our success and view all of our corporate decisions through this lens. And with our values, Crestwood is excited to take on the challenges and opportunities that this new period in behavioral healthcare brings.

Contributed by: Patty Blum, PhD, Crestwood Vice President