An Interview with Monica Williams, OTD, OTR/L

By Monica Williams OTD, OTR/L
Quote from Monica Williams


Insights into Occupational Therapy at ACUTE

Eating disorders impact all aspects of a patient’s life. Occupational performance issues in eating disorders can affect activities like meal preparation, socialization, financial management and self-grooming. Low body weight and malnutrition can affect an individual’s memory, cognition and concentration, making work or study more challenging.

Occupational therapy (OT) helps eating disorder patients progress toward independence in managing their activities of daily living (ADLs) and reengaging with coping and meaningful leisure activities as they become more physically capable. ACUTE's occupational therapists aim to improve patient independence in order to meet the demands of daily living across all occupations and environments as well as empower patients to lead satisfying, meaningful and fulfilled lives in whichever way they choose to engage life.

A Conversation With Monica Williams, OTD OTR/L

ACUTE has some impressive professionals on our social work team. In our interview series, we aim to highlight the talented individuals who work at ACUTE and the ways they impact the lives of our patients. This time we spoke with Monica Williams, OTD OTR/L, one of ACUTE's occupational therapists. 

Monica joined ACUTE in 2022 to address all the occupations of daily living and bring her expertise of the pelvic floor to help empower the patients experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction. She obtained her B.S. in Exercise Science and Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. 

Please describe your typical day at ACUTE.

I typically see patients for most of my day, which I love! I start out the morning chart reviewing and looking out for any pertinent details that may impact my plan of care with a patient. Throughout the day, I am collaborating with other ACUTE team members either in meetings, on Epic chats or in-person. I try to find time to add to the plethora of interventions that OT offers here at ACUTE. Once a week, OT offers a task-oriented life skills group on the unit which mixes up the day.

What drew you to ACUTE? What do you enjoy about working at ACUTE?

I previously had no experience working with individuals with eating disorders. My prior job was solely working in outpatient pelvic floor therapy. There was a need for an OT and someone well versed in pelvic floor dysfunction, as it is a very common occurrence in patients with eating disorders. After my interview on the unit and meeting the team, there was no question I wanted to work for ACUTE! I enjoy the vast number of interventions that OT offers here and the autonomy I have when creating the OT plan of care for each individual. I love teaching others about their pelvic floor, how it impacts their daily life and working together to eliminate their pelvic floor symptoms.

Describe the importance of occupational therapy and how it can support patients through their journey in eating disorder treatment and recovery.

Occupational therapy is such a crucial discipline when working with these individuals. OTs are trained mental health professionals who are skilled in physical rehabilitation. OTs incorporate therapeutic activities to help a person be fully independent and live a meaningful life. There is a need for OT in all levels of care for ED treatment. OTs are experts at evaluating what a person needs or wants to do, analyzing the factors that are supportive or inhibitory and then intervening with skilled activities to optimize their function.

What is a highlight or achievement of your career that you’re proud of?

I’m very proud to have developed programing centered around pelvic floor dysfunction here on the unit. I’ve educated both providers and patients about the impact of pelvic floor dysfunction on a person’s everyday life. I’ve helped countless individuals here experience less pelvic floor-related symptoms. I have felt very supportive by the team here at ACUTE. I look forward to continuing to spread information about the pelvic floor in relation to eating disorders through advocacy, research and presentations to others working in the field.

What is something that you’ve learned from patients that has stuck with you? 

The art and power of listening is something I’ve learned to appreciate more from our patients. Sometimes taking a step back and simply providing a listening ear and allowing them to share their inner thoughts, worries, anxieties or triumphs are some of my favorite moments with my patients.

What advice would you give someone looking to enter the occupational therapy field?

It is such a rewarding experience to help others who are facing hardship. Those hardships can be challenging for the social worker too and it takes a lot of persistence, advocacy, and integrity to work towards solutions. Take care of yourself first and foremost. Allow yourself to celebrate the wins and remember what a difference you can make in someone else’s life.  

What are some things you look forward to about the occupational therapy and/or eating disorder care?

I look forward to the day when lower levels of care are consulting OT or have an OT on their staff. OTs have a distinct perspective on finding balance within one’s routine and improving their occupational performance.

If you weren’t in occupational therapy, what else do you think you’d be doing? Why?

I’ve always seen myself working in healthcare, but my non-realistic dream job would be an FBI agent. I’ve always loved investigative shows and thriller books.

What do your weekends look like? What are some of your favorite activities or places to visit?

I love being outside amongst friends on the weekends whether I’m going to Wash Park for a walk, hiking or exploring restaurants around Denver. I love to travel and hope to explore more of Colorado this summer.

Please share a quote you find supportive or inspirational.

"You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself.” - Elle Woods. I’ve always been slightly obsessed with the movie Legally Blonde. I think this quote is pertinent here at ACUTE as our patients must have faith in themselves, but also their team to aid in recovery.

If you could only have one book on your shelf, which would it be? Why?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It’s such a beautifully written story from the women's point of view during World War II in France.

If you had six months to travel anywhere you wanted, where would it be? Why?

I would love to travel all throughout Europe. I love all the different cultures, landscapes and cuisine.

Written by

Monica Williams OTD, OTR/L

Originally from St. Louis, MO, Monica received her B.S. in Exercise Science and Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Creighton University in Omaha, NE. While completing her doctoral capstone, Monica…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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