Senior Clinical Director Michael Menard-Weibel on Making Space for Teamwork and Deep Listening
Michael Menard-Weibel is the Senior Clinical Director in the Developmental and Brain Injury Services (DBIS) division of ServiceNet. In his role, Michael oversees the multiple clinicians and clinical specialists who work with individuals in various DBIS residences and programs.
Michael began his career in direct services and worked his way up at various agencies before joining ServiceNet seven years ago. One major reason he joined ServiceNet is that he supervises and mentors other clinicians in his role but can also maintain his own caseload. For someone who is deeply invested in working directly with people, this balance makes for an energizing combination.
“What I love about this work is that it’s person-centered, and to do this job well, you have to get to know the people you’re working for,” Michael says. “I remember when I began this work years ago, one of my first clients was interested in ghost hunting. I wrote a whole ghost-hunting protocol to allow him to do that independently. I never thought I would write something like that, but it is so essential to meet folks where they are.”
Michael’s emphasis on people-centered care is visible in much of his work, including once acting as an impromptu officiant at a client’s wedding. He brings that same people-first passion to his role as a supervisor and mentor for his staff. Michael incorporates a variety of team-building opportunities into staff training and gives new staff opportunities to get to know clients.
“When I hire new clinicians, the only expectation I have of them in the first few weeks is to hang out at the houses and to get to know the people,” Michael says. “When clinicians get to know their folks, they can be good, strong advocates for the clients. And I want to ensure that this time and expectation are built in from the start.”
Another important relationship Michael trains his staff to foster and respect is with the direct care staff of the residences where the clients live.
“I always tell the clinicians to remember that, yes, we know a lot of stuff, but the staff in the house are the real experts on the house,” Michael says. “We may have great ideas, but we have to have a relationship with the staff to get their feedback and make something work. We can do much more for the clients when we work together and listen to each other.”
Michael has seen the rewards of this deep listening and advocating in so many ways in the years he has worked in this position and has multiple experiences of watching clients progress to greater and greater levels of independence.
“There’s a reason everybody does everything,” Michael says. “People can tend to make up reasons for other people’s behavior, but only when you get to the real reason can you help people change. I feel blessed to be in a position of supporting a team to help create that space for deeper understanding.”
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