MARCH 14, 2022

Rachel McCrickard, LMFT

From our Founder

Each week, our founder, Rachel, writes about her learnings and reflections in our newsletter, Mondays with Motivo. Sign up below to receive it in your inbox.

Not merely the absence of

March 14, 2022


By: Rachel McCrickard

Hi, friends!

Recently, I joined the Board of Advisors for Capella University’s School of Nursing and Health Sciences, as a behavioral health representative. This past week, I attended my first in-person board meeting in Orlando and really enjoyed seeing the 3D version of people I’ve only ever met on Zoom.

We had a lot of rich discussion over the two days about the future of healthcare, the importance of access to quality, online learning, and the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship to provide better care to patients.

During one of the breakout sessions, one of my fellow board members who works for the CDC, mentioned that he has always loved the World Health Organization’s definition of health. Have you ever heard it? I hadn’t, so I quickly googled it on my phone.

Here what it says:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. 

The definition struck me and has stayed with me for several days since.

I loved the phrase, “not merely the absence of.” I think it’s a phrase that can apply to a variety of scenarios within the field of mental health and addiction recovery.

For example, good mental health is not merely the absence of depression, anxiety, or manic episodes, but it’s also the presence of things like adequate sleep, sunlight, exercise, meaningful connection with others, regular therapy sessions, and medication.

I think the very same can be said for those in addiction recovery. One of my close friends is nearly five years sober, and he has taught me that active recovery is not merely the absence of addictive behaviors, but it’s also the presence of calling his sponsor, creating a plan for himself, attending meetings, and living life one day at a time.

I got to thinking about how I might apply this thinking into our clinical work with clients and supervisees, and to our own life as well.

Perhaps a client is no longer feeling severely depressed but hasn’t yet incorporated a strong support system for herself. There’s an opportunity here to develop some meaningful relationships ahead of a future depressive episode.

Or perhaps a supervisee is demonstrating a lot of growth in implementing his preferred modality, but he hasn’t yet developed tools to become more aware of his countertransference. There’s an opportunity here to prompt some self-of-the-therapist work so that he can become a more healthy, well-balanced clinician.

This way of thinking resonates for my own life as well. I’m confident that I’m not the only therapist who’s mental health took a hit at various times during the pandemic. There were times when I struggled with the isolation, the lack of things to look forward to, and the general sense of loss surrounding us. 

This phrase, “not merely the absence of” resonates with me as a reminder that, although some things no longer look the same, there are other things that can be newly present in order to promote better health. Things like stronger boundaries around work, backyard bonfires with Warren, and replacing my evening commute with an evening run.

One of the reasons that I love writing Mondays with Motivo is because I appreciate the opportunity to pay attention to what’s happening around me and then jotting down what I’m learning here — so thank you for taking the time to read my inner monologue! 

I always love hearing what Mondays with Motivo might have brought up for you – so feel free to reply if you have anything you want to share with me.


Rachel McCrickard, LMFT
CEO/Founder, Motivo

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