“My parents always talked to my siblings and me about giving back,” says Dennis Ballinger, Momenta’s Clinical Director. “At first I wanted to be a police officer, then a lawyer, then finally a doctor. Then while I was in undergrad I took a class in psychology. The professor lectured on schizophrenia and how it changes perceptions. At that moment I knew what I was going to do…be a therapist.”
That was when Ballinger decided to work in mental health.
“That class made me curious about how people do what they do and make the decisions they make. I have come to believe that most people are doing the best they can. Sometimes their best doesn’t look very good from the outside but the more you get to know someone and understand them the easier it becomes to make sense of how they got to that point in their life.
He wanted to know the ‘how’ and ‘why’ people manifest drug or alcohol addiction and why some people manifest their trauma differently than others.
Ballinger is a Colorado native and went to the University of Colorado for his undergraduate in Sociology and Psychology. Following his graduation from CU, he moved to Seattle for grad school. While getting his Masters in child, couple and family therapy he started working with an organization that provided counseling to youth struggling with addiction and mental health. During his time in Washington State he worked with many treatment providers, government entities and community groups to help address co-occurring disorders.
After receiving his Masters, Dennis provided home based family counseling with minority adjudicated youth and their families. During this time he focused on using Functional Family Therapy along with other evidence-based clinical approaches to help families address their struggles and form more stable and lasting relationships.
Two and a half years later he became the Clinical Director for mental health department at the Child and Family Treatment Center he was working at. During the next couple of years he started a number of programs to help youth and families. He added a number of evidence based practices to the work done at the organization. He added an Infant Mental Health program, the Incredible Years, LGBTQ Support Services and Groups and expanded the school based counseling program and helped to establish the first health center in the school district where the organization was located. At this point Ballinger was offered the opportunity to integrate the mental health and substance abuse treatment programs for the organization; He accepted the role and established the first truly co-occurring treatment program for adolescents in Washington State. As a part of this work he incorporated a number of evidence based practices for the treatment of substance use disorders and co-occurring treatment. This included Botvin Lifeskills for prevention and ACRA and ACC for the treatment of substance use disorders. For his work, in 2013 Ballinger was given the annual award for his contribution to the treatment of behavioral health from the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health.
Colorado called to him and he returned. Back in his home state, Ballinger took a position with AllHealth Network as their Manager of Child and Family Services. He oversaw four locations that served children, youth and their families throughout Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. He started their school based counseling program, implemented the Bridges Program for Adolescent Substance User and Mental Health Treatment and started a specialized trauma assessment program for the assessment of children and young adults involved in the Department of Human Services. He then moved to Director of Co-Occurring Treatment and expanded the treatment offered.
When he heard about Momenta from a former colleague, he knew he wanted to be a part of an organization that is looking at addiction as a result of genetic predisposition, trauma and attachment. It also integrates his passion for helping youth and families by helping mothers overcome and manage their challenges so that they can be the mother and woman that they want to be. He feels blessed to play a part in assisting families stop the multi-generational pattern of addiction, trauma and attachment disruptions.
“Glenwood is a great place,” he says. “It’s small compared to Denver and Seattle but it is the perfect place for treatment, you can get away and focus on yourself and your healing.”
“It boils down to this: I like what Momenta has going,” he continues. “I believe in their vision. They understand that addiction and trauma are interwoven and they address the whole person. I want to impact how people live their lives and Momenta is doing that.”
Meet the rest of the Momenta team today!