Posted on July 11, 2016 by Laura Fuller
The Levenson Foundation (TLF) is a privately funded philanthropic organization with a mission to measurably and positively impact the most suffering, traumatized and/or disadvantaged populations in our world. TLF is committed to helping close medical, clinical and spiritual best practices divides in treatment while also challenging cultural, ethnic, political, international and religious gaps that inhibit the advancement of the addiction treatment sciences both domestically and abroad. The Global Addiction Professional Exchange (GAP-X) program is essentially an addiction professional’s exchange program. It is funded by TLF and designed to foster the bilateral exchange of practitioners — including physicians, therapists, nurses and administrators –between participating high-quality U.S. based providers and TLF supported addiction treatment programs around the world. GAP-X allows staff to “swap spots” for a month and travel, live and work alongside their counterparts.
Melda Celik– Clinical Psychologist
Melda began her educational career studying psychology at Bahçesehir University in Turkey, graduating in 2013 with honors distinction. While earning her bachelor’s degree, Melda spent her summers studying at Harvard and UCLA. In 2014, she earned her master’s degree from Queen Mary University of London, learning how to assess, diagnose and manage psychological disorders. After completing all of her necessary courses, as well as participating in numerous workshops, Melda dove into her work, working at private clinics, conducting research and learning about the valuable effects of positive psychology as well as gaining advanced training in Dialectical and Cognitive Behavioral Therapies and Solution Focused Therapy. Currently, Melda works part time at Istanbul University in the addiction department while spending the majority of her time working at Beylikduzu Belediyesi Counseling and Rehabilitation Center as a clinical psychologist and a clinical director. Melda recently arrived in the U.S. and after attending a conference in Florida she will be working with Origins’ professionals in Texas.
What is your country of origin?
I was born and raised in Turkey.
What type of setting/settings do you work in on a daily basis?
Currently, I am working in an addiction counseling and rehabilitation center.
How did you get involved with The Levenson Foundation’s GAP-X program?
In Turkey, we are working together with C4 Recovery Solutions and Origins Behavioral HealthCare. They supported and encouraged me to come to the U.S. to learn about and observe new perspectives of addiction.
What inspired you to work with men and women struggling with addiction?
My enthusiasm about addiction unfortunately started with a sad story. One of my closest loved ones was an alcohol addict. My life and relationship with him were deeply affected as a result of his alcohol addiction. I personally experienced how families can be affected by addiction. As a result, I had to separate myself from him.
It is a sad story that I could not save him from addiction. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help him because he didn’t want to be helped. However, I never accepted this situation in my heart, and I strongly believe that humanity can overcome all obstacles if they have enough awareness and support. I decided to fight with addiction as a psychologist, learning about the nature of this disorder in hopes of touching people’s lives, trying to make positive changes and contributions in this area as much as possible.
What have you learned through your experience working in the addiction field?
My clients always say to me: ‘‘the substance that I am using is my best friend, I only feel comfortable when I use it.’’ What I have learned through my experiences is that addiction does not bring a solution to any spiritual problem. Moreover, it adds to problems and these problems not only affect the user, but also their families and friends too. As professionals, we need to help clients find their inner strengths, motivation and courage to face difficulties and improve new skills to cope with them in order to be able to take a chance and proceed to the next chapter of their life.
What are you most looking forward to learning while here in the U.S.?
I’m looking forward to learning new therapy techniques, including client approaches, social interactions, and psychiatric and psychological treatments as well as the differences between U.S. and Turkey in terms of perceiving addiction.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you have any pets or engage in special hobbies?
My biggest hobby in life is traveling all around the world! I lived two years in London, one year in Rio de Janeiro, six months in Los Angeles, and six months in Boston. I enjoy discovering the new cultures, traditions and souls of different countries.
Is there anything else you might like to share?
I am very thankful to The Levenson Foundation giving me this opportunity.