Limelight: The Sanford House Therapist Interview 5



Our clients (and their families) put their trust in the individual counselors who work with them at Sanford House and the therapists who lead the many groups they attend. These are the first significant connections our clients will make in early recovery. Our goal with the Limelight series, is to demystify addiction treatment. We want to introduce our team of therapists and share some “interesting” details about the folks our clients will be spending time with while at Sanford House.


The subject of this interview, Leah Mayotte is in the communal therapist’s office on the bottom floor of Sanford House at John Street for Men. She greets us with a huge smile and a stack of notes. She’s prepared for this interview, anticipating the potential questions and preparing her answers…


Recovery runs in my family… Leah Mayotte


Limelight: Leah Mayotte, LPC, CAADC, EMDR


The “big” smile…


1. What is your primary focus as a therapist and what makes your style different?

My focus is on substance use disorders, and I am certified as a Trauma Practitioner – I find that where there is one, there is the other. I use a person centered approach, EMDR and DBT Informed. Meeting the clients where they are and helping them stabilize and gain the life skills they will need in recovery. I am generally fascinated by how people “work”.


2. Why did you become a therapist?

Both my parents are counselors. And both my parents have been in recovery for thirty-plus years. In fact we have three generations of those in recovery in my family. I literally “grew up” around adolescent and adult substance abuse groups of all kinds. My parents have always been 12-step sponsors and attend meetings. I did not see the despair of addiction in my family, but I did see the permanence and safety net of recovery. What I do, is a natural, innate part of who I am.


3. What is the key to success in recovery?

  • A solid foundation sets the stage. A person needs to take care of all the domains before they are stabilized – biological, social and psychological. Without all these domains working in concert, a person might not be using, but they are not living their best life.
  • Counseling and community –  and a 12-step connection
  • They have to want it…
  • And I like to have a client prepare 5 to 7 recovery activities each week. And to ask themselves each morning, “What can I do for my recovery today?”


4. What are the pitfalls?

Boredom and isolation. Not addressing past trauma leads to self-sabotage. And when someone begins to pull away from their support system, or are not using but miserable, it sets the stage for relapse.



In the limelight…


5. What do you consider to be the “fun” part of your job as therapist?

(Big smile) Meeting new people and getting to really know our clients. I love to learn the raw, honest stories – it takes great courage to disclose the good, bad and the ugly. I think of myself as a safe place for our clients to share these stories – safe, stable and nurturing…

As far as working with men, it’s about helping them learn more about who they are without substances. To take off the mask. Many of our clients have complex trauma and over the years they have learned to shove it down. In early recovery, when drugs are taken away it can be tough. I want to give them a voice, make them feel worthy.


6. What do you read in your spare time, Leah?

I do not have any time to read for pleasure at the moment. But when I do, I like to settle in with a “feel good story”. My all time favorite book is Wonder by R.J. Palacio – have you read it? Seen the movie? It’s a classic underdog-wins-in-the-end story. That’s what I like to read.


7. How about your favorite journey? Any way you interpret it…

I think I’d have to say the journey I’m on right now. Everything is new – all positive change. New husband, new job, new location…


8. What is your most marked characteristic?

Let me put it this way – from the time I was a child my nickname was “Bulldog”. I am blunt, straightforward and I fight hard for what I care about. For our clients, that translates into going to bat to get them connected – to get them the best possible care.


You want me in your corner… Leah Mayotte


9. In your opinion, what makes Sanford House unique?

I come from a family run business. Since 1993 my parents have worked to help those with substance use disorders. Until I moved to Grand Rapids, I worked with them. Sanford House is a family run business, and it is full of people who are genuine and who care. Here everyone is respected and we address addiction as a whole. I’m loving my time at Sanford House!


10. Do you have a motto? Words to live by?

I like an Albert Einstein quote, “Learn from yesterday; Live for today; Hope for tomorrow.” Oh, and my dad always says, “Rise above.”

Thank you Leah.



Sanford House Addiction Treatment Centers


Sanford Behavioral Health is a residential and outpatient facility located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sanford offers excellence in evidence-based practice models in a home-like, restorative setting. Our clinicians, supported by our medical team, focus on resolving the underlying issues that often cause substance use, such as trauma, unhealthy relationships, co-occurring disorders and isolation. Programs include both in-person and telehealth: residential, day programs, intensive outpatient, outpatient, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), education and relapse prevention classes, one-on-one and family therapy, and alumni and family support groups. At Sanford, we want to inspire you to find your inner grit, rekindle your interests and engage your passion.