Achieving Wellness With Dr. Stephen Odom


TRC 3 | Achieving Wellness


Wellness is not a new concept, yet it continues to be a struggle for many people to achieve in life. It goes beyond looking at health physically, deep within the emotional, psychological, and overall well-being of a person. The CEO and Chief Clinical Officer of Simple Recovery and Shift Wellness, Dr. Stephen Odom, sits down on the show to talk about the ways he has been fulfilling his mission to relieve suffering and help other people. He explains his guiding principle that people can, and do, get well and stay that way, while taking us across his journey of becoming a real pioneer in behavioral health addiction treatment and wellness. He also goes in-depth about the health and wellness of health professionals, especially first-responders – helping them learn how to take care of themselves as much as they do others.

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Achieving Wellness With Dr. Stephen Odom

We’ve got a special guest, Dr. Stephen Odom, who is the CEO and Chief Clinical Officer of Simple Recovery and Shift Wellness. He has a distinguished healthcare career for more than 30 years as a C-Suite executive, a business owner, a consultant, a speaker and a therapist. He’s a real pioneer in behavioral health addiction treatment and wellness which is close to my heart because I’ve shared a lot with you all about my family’s struggles with mental illness. I’m also on the board of the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services here in LA. It serves communities in and around Los Angeles and also I founded the nation’s first Suicide Prevention Center.

Dr. Odom lives by a rare guiding principle: that people can get well and can stay well. This is a very hopeful message for anybody that struggles with mental health or has a family member or friend who does. A big part of his current work is with first responders, firefighters, police officers, and their families. He’s developed and works with some interesting healing practices to deal PTSD and anxiety. He’s going to share some of that with us. If Dr. Odom can help first responders with coping skills and resiliency, there’s a lot we can all learn from him. Welcome. Thank you for being here, Dr. Odom.

Thank you, Libby. It’s nice to be here.

Your academic studies, your clinical expertisewhere did you start this journey of behavioral and mental health? 

Interestingly enough, I didn’t even realize it at that time, but when I was about eight years old, my father had come back from Vietnam. He was an army physician. He was one of those guys who got drafted at the age of 33. They did that with physicians. When he came back, he saw that there was a lot of young men who were addicted to drugs. In this small little town, Fort Collins, Colorado, he was going to help open up a drug-free clinic. A man came and stayed at our home for about a month and taught my dad how to do heroin detox. The man’s name was David Smith. Dr. David Smith was the founder of the Haight Ashbury Clinics. Little did I know, but it was already in the blood. By the time I got my education going, I was given opportunities to do internships with addiction treatment and behavioral health. It rolled into a career from which I’ve never looked back.

You grew up in the business. It sounds like you started early. My dad was a Navy psychiatrist. I have memories of stopping at the VA centers and the strangest of all, and this will totally date me, but we lived on a base in Japan and watched the movie, M*A*S*H, if you remember thatall about combat and the Korean war in the hospital mental health unit with a bunch of soldiers on gurneys and wheelchairs who were in the hospital watching the movie. It was absolutely surreal. You early on decided that was going to be your career path. How did you start out? What did you do in terms of that career progression?

I pursued credentials, I pursued licensure, and I pursued graduate school. Along the way, I was given opportunities to work in treatment centers. In a lot of ways I worked my way up because I worked while I went to college. I was a treatment aid and I was a counselor assistant and then I was a counselor. I always felt like that was valuable, looking back. I was a little envious of all the kids that went straight through school. I wanted to be much more in the middle, around patients, being the doctor.

It must have given you a business perspective as well, because you were seeing these clinical settings from all different levels and perspectives.

Not only was I’m working with people to help them with their psychological or their chemical dependency problems, but I was also having to meet a budget. That’s an interesting mix, especially as most of the places I worked ultimately were not-for-profit, large hospital organizations, but you still had to meet your numbers. How do you deliver quality clinical care within a budget and still have a mission of delivering the best to everyone? That’s always been a bit of a challenge. I took it as an opportunity to figure out how to do things the right way, a smarter way, all those kinds of things. I also grew up in the world of locked psychiatric units, back when you see chemical dependency ever since the ‘80s, and what that’s looked like.

In a lot of ways, where we are now with chemical dependency is better than we’ve ever been. At the same time, we have this opioid epidemic. In many ways, it was of our own making, but that’s maybe the subject for another talk. What’s always been infused in everything I’ve ever done is the whole concept of looking at the whole person and not the psychiatric problem or not the chemical dependencybut how does that person balance their whole life out? What you see with psychiatric and chemical dependency problems is, there’s not much balance. It’s completely focused in one or two areas and yet, that’s not the best way to live. The whole concept of wellness isn’t new, but it’s about looking at the categories of life.

Looking at emotional or relationship or nutritional or psychiatric health, all those things were always intriguing to me. Back in 1989 or 1990, I got to go train under a fellow named Jon Kabat-Zinn, who’s the father of mindfulness. I learned mindfulness stress management because that’s what we first started talking about. It permeated the workplace. I brought it from a healthcare perspective because that was the people that I worked with. Nurses, physicians and everyone else in the hospital, we’re very high stress, plus very high acuity patients. Everyone’s giving their all to keep people alive or to bring them back from the brink. I started seeing trauma there. You get exposed to unfortunate events and yet we say, “That’s part of the job.”

You’re not talking about the stress and the anxiety among patients, but among the staff itself. 

[bctt tweet=”We are not our illnesses. ” username=”LibbyGill”]

That’s where I began to focus. It’s the concept of healing the healer in a lot of ways. We come into this world of healthcare and then we’ll move on into public safety in a little bit. We have a mission and our mission is to relieve suffering and it’s to be there to help other people. We almost always forget about ourselves. We will take care of everybody else first. In some ways, it’s what we call healthcare co-dependency. We’re so good at helping everybody else but then, when we go home, we either don’t take care of ourselves or we start doing other things to self-medicate against the exhaustion, the stress, the anxiety, the depression, all the things that happened to us, too. We’re in a world where people are not at their best. We see people at their worst, but what do we do for ourselves when it’s all over? That’s where it comes from.

That guiding principle that I saw in your bio and on your website, that’s so interesting to me that people can get well, they do get well and they can stay well. That’s not something you hear that often. Particularly, with the acute cases, there was my schizophrenic brother.

As a guiding principle, it’s exactly thata principle. It doesn’t mean that it’s true for everyone in every situation. I wouldn’t say that potentially your schizophrenic brother can get to a state of managing his illness so that he can be productive and do all the things that he needs to do to live the best life he can. There’s a lot that goes into schizophrenia, about the fact that most of it is paranoid and so, therefore, we’re afraid that people are trained to do something to us and so we don’t want to take medication to believe it. By and large, the idea is we are not our illnesses. We are humans and we have illnesses and we have injuries and we heal the injuries or manage the illness and not be that diagnosis. That’s really important.

By the way, he is retired, but he was a college professor for many years teaching English. 

He was living his best life.

Tell me: where are you now? What’s your primary focus? You’ve got businesses, you’ve got all kinds of things. How did you learn the leadership and the business skills that you bring, which is not necessarily part of a clinician’s role?

If I have skills and if I have expertise, that came through lots of mistakes. It comes and goes for the first time. In a lot of ways, my background was as a therapist and my bachelor’s degree was in organizational behavior, so I started off looking at organizations. One of my first jobs was as an employee assistance program director. I’m part of a psychiatric system, but I went out and did the EAP work and led outpatient services for big companies like M&M, Mars, Duracell, and US Forest Service. I was with managers, I was with supervisors, I was with leadership a lot looking at how can we do what we do better, what doesn’t work, what does work. In some ways, being a consultant and being able to talk with them and work through interdepartmental conflicts set me up to be a leader for the people I was around because I’d seen a lot of ways things didn’t work. I also think that in my mind, for me, that is not the right way to think about it in many ways.

One of my favorite things to do is group therapy. I love group therapy. In many ways, leading an organization is like a big group therapy session. You’re trying to figure out who all the players are, what roles they’re taking on, how it’s working, how it’s not working, and helping people self-actualize and be their best selves. The part that’s a little bit challenging when you come from a therapist’s background is learning how to set limits and say no. I know inside everyone is an amazing human being. How do I draw that line that says, “I can’t have you be my therapy project because you’re an employee and I can’t wait for you to get better?” I still have to have expectations. I have to have you do the thing that’s your job. If you can, that’s great. If not, we’ll put a learning plan together. If that doesn’t work, then maybe we’ll help you get a job somewhere else.

It sounds like you’ve defaulted to the wellness of the person as opposed to the symptoms or the challenges of the person.

I do. If you talk to my leadership teams over the years, they would say that that’s my Achilles heel. I tend to give people a few too many chances. If that’s my Achilles heel, I can live with it.

I would say so. Too much trust and too much faith that they’re going to come around and do the right thing. How did this shift into first responders? Obviously you grew up with some of that.

Back when I did the stuff with Jon Kabat-Zinn and got into the whole wellness thing, that was always there. I’ve always integrated it into the various treatment programs I’ve designed and run and helped be a part of. What started to happen along the way was I got introduced to becoming more and more specialized in addiction for your health. The first populations I was introduced to were with RNs and with physicians. What I found with those two groups of people was that when you treated them and put them in a group of what we call civilians, non-healthcare providers, they somehow maintained their role as the nurse, or the doctor maintained their role as the doctor.

TRC 3 | Achieving Wellness
Achieving Wellness: What you see with psychiatric and chemical dependency problems is there’s not much balance.


It was hard to break down the barriers and break down the walls because all the people around them still saw them as this doctor or nurse. What we did was we create a physician-only program and a nurse-only programalthough those are a little more challenging to do because of the numbers. What I found is that if you take a lot of very high functioning people, in a lot of ways, very intelligent, possibly narcissistic, people; you put them all in a room together and, guess what? All of a sudden nobody’s special. I found that to be valuable. The walls come down and they work on the things they work on. They’re also not afraid to talk about their stressors.

They’re not afraid to talk about the fact that they’re sick and tired of this job and that it’s killing them. They can’t see one more dead person or they can’t have one more thing go badly. They will never say that in front of normal people. What happened along the way was, always we’ve had a police officer here, a firefighter there, and, believe it or not, corrections officers have a lot of PTSD. The way we talk about it is everyone who runs towards trauma is a first responder. Anyone who runs away from trauma is a second responder or non-responder.

As time went by, we started noticing the same thing with firefighters and police officers, that when they were in a group of civilians, they weren’t talking. They had too many things to keep inside. They had a real hard time taking the walls down, what we say is taking off their super suit. The next thing you know, they leave treatment saying, “I didn’t get anything out of that.” The idea was, how can we craft and create programs that are specific to that population? It was a really easy transition from what we’ve been doing from physicians to what we would do with first responders.

I’m sure it took you a lot of observation to realize what you needed to do to compose that homogeneous groups so that they understood each other and nobody was special. It’s such a great example of one of those elegantly simple solutions: “We’ve figured this out.”

We got a lot of push-back too, because there are groups of professionals out there who say, “Aren’t you perpetuating their uniqueness? Aren’t you keeping them all alone?” There’s something about what they do and how they do it that is special enough that it needs to be done this way. For example, with physician groups, a lot of times when they come out of treatment, they don’t want to do twelve-step programs because they don’t want to walk in there and have someone recognize them as their doctor. What they wind up doing is they go to specialty, almost underground meetings for physicians. The same thing is true with first responders.

What we do see over time is the physicians do those and other ones leave it to the general population. Once they own who they are, life tends to get a lot easier as opposed to keeping it safe and secret. At the same time, I understand why some people can’t, won’t, don’t do that thing. The same is true for first responders. The other thing that informed me in a lot of ways is I mentioned my father’s background. Our family’s divided in half. Half of our family are physicians, psychologists, healthcare workers and educators. The other half is military. I have a cousin who’s a Brigadier General. His father was a three-star general and the head of the director of the NSA for a long time. I have a stepbrother who was a DEA officer.

Understanding that world from inside the family and how it was difficult for them to connect sometimes and how when they were back they weren’t back. That’s hard some times. What that led me towards realizing is that in addition to treating first responders, which we do in our program at simple recovery, I felt like the real last group here are the first responder families. That’s where a lot of my passion is taking off right now. In fact, I finished a four-day retreat where we had twelve first responder’s spouses, from Friday to Monday.

We took them through a process of how do you reconcile all the emotions that go into being a first responder wife or spouse because you’re proud of them. It’s a culture that you embrace in a lot of ways. What starts to happen over time is they’re gone a lot. You don’t know when they’re going to leave being on deployment. All of us are so grateful and we think firefighter and I know one of the horrible fires we’ve had in LA and all around it, but no one thinks the wives. Those guys have been out on duty for a month at a time. What’s been happening at home the whole time they’re home.

I remember as a kid, being a Navy kid, I had a friend whose dad was a submariner. He’d be gone for a long period of time and that was hard. Him coming back was hard too because it threw off their rhythms. It threw off with their mom’s job was, and they were, I won’t say happier when he was out at sea but it definitely wasn’t easy.

You’re onto something. You mentioned the fact that they have routines. If we have to function, we function. What happens when our hero comes back home and we see it played out several ways. One is it feels a little intrusive like we’ve got this, but they want to come home and be the dad and the husband and the leader. At the same time, to see that sometimes the family wants them to be involved. They have a real hard time reintegrating because they’ve been gone for let’s say 96 hours, so four days, and they come home and they need the putter.

They can’t jump in and yet the spouses have been waiting for them and they want to have conversations and they want to go do things. The last thing this first responder wants to do is go out to dinner in public and socialize or do anything like that. You add that up over the course of 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and you’ve got a lot of distance created. Plus the fact that oftentimes a first responder spouse doesn’t say, “How was your day at work, honey?” Either they tell you and you never want to hear it again, or they don’t tell you and you feel like you’re keeping things from me or we’re mostly cut off.

There’s no win in that either way. 

[bctt tweet=”In many ways, leading an organization is like a big group therapy session. ” username=”LibbyGill”]

There is no win. It’s interesting because as a healthcare provider, I’ve experienced that too in a lot of ways. I have to be careful what I share at home because I don’t think about it because it’s powerful stuff. When someone reveals their childhood sexual abuse and I happened to mention that to my wife, it takes her to a place she never wants to go. I had to learn that there’s certain things I don’t talk about. Where do I go? Who do I talk with about that? Another interesting thing that’s happened in first responder world is we began to come to terms with the fact that first responders have post-traumatic stress. We finally can say it’s okay that it’s a normal part. It’s a presumptive part of your job.

You can’t do your job and not have it. Period. What we used to say was if you can’t handle your business, you’re going to get through. Everyone gets it. Everyone exposed to repeated traumas, it changes your brain. When we get into things like meditation and this warrior meditation you mentioned earlier, that’s a way of retraining your brain to calm down, get quiet, re-work the synapses in a lot of so that you can be centered and okay and present and all those kinds of things. It’s tough because what happens in a first responder is the more trauma you get, the more hyper-vigilant you become and the more suspicious you become. In many ways, we train to be that way in the first place, which is healthy but it can be too much.

In many ways, that’s a major impediment to first responders being willing to accept help. They wonder what you’re after. You’re trying to get rid of me, you don’t care about all those kinds of things. There are lots of cultural changes we have to do. Even though we say it’s good and all these person coming in, versus we continue to build their system out so that they feel safe and asking for help. What we find when we go in and talk with lots of departments around California and we’ve spread beyond to the Western United States is everyone says, “Yes, we want our men and women to get help.” We say, “What happens when they ask?” They’re like, “We’re not sure.” There are 5 or 6 questions that you have to have the answer to. They want to know, “How long am I going to be gone? How am I going to get paid? What’s going to happen to my family? Will anybody know? Will I lose my chance for promotion?” All those kinds of things.

It’s a terrifying system to walk into. That go back over to my life as an EAP person working in corporate America and we figured that stuff out a long time ago. We know how to keep things safe and quiet. What we’ve been able to do is start to help them learn. Do we want them to get help? They are willing to get help. They feel like everyone’s not going to help them about it because a lot of this stuff is private. They don’t want to talk about the PTS. They don’t want to talk about addiction. They don’t want to talk about all kinds of things that they’ve been doing and they want to come back to work. We’re at the beginning of figuring all that out and getting them well again. I also believe the whole concept of helping the families is going to go a long way to help the first responders.

For folks in the corporate world and they feel like first responders I’m sure at times because they’re putting out fires. 

I have to tell you that everything about technology worked against us as humans.

I deal with change management issues all the time. It’s not about the technology.

It’s overwhelming. You don’t know how to pivot. The next thing you know, you’re completely stressed out and all you want to do is check out and all you want to do is self-medicate with something.

What of the work that you’ve done, I know you’ve covered all those bases as well? What do you think is important for the non-first responders, first responders and those of us in the corporate or in the business world? 

Wellness is wellness and we need to look at that wellness wheel and what are the categories that we’re paying attention to and not paying attention to. The double-edged sword of the wellness movement in the corporate world is there are so many companies now who have a wellness program, but what does it mean and what does it look like? It’s activities. It’s okay we have a gym, we give you yoga, you can do some meditation, we have a quiet room, we’ve got a cool coffee bar, all those kinds of things. What needs to happen is we have to have a culture of wellness. A culture of wellness basically says, “It’s okay to take a moment along the day, throughout the day to center yourself to do a minute of meditation.” What do you need to do to be present? If you can do that, then you’ll do your job better. They will be more productive. What that means is that while all the “rank and file” wants to go do wellness stuff until management and leadership buys in, nothing’s going to change.

I remember my studio days in entertainment, I’m managing media for an entertainment company. It’s deadlines all day long and people screaming at you. I used to take what I called the sanity walk. I’d take a ten-minute walk in the back lot of the studio. That was my joke. I’m taking a sanity walk but it was.

Entertainment is one of the last frontiers for learning how to manage stress. I have a few ideas and they’re in the works, so we’re not going to talk about them a whole lot now. I got a plan.

TRC 3 | Achieving Wellness
Achieving Wellness: Healthcare professionals have a mission to relieve suffering and to be there to help other people, but almost always forget about themselves.


Tell us about something a skill or a practice that anybody could use that needs that bit of resilience or ability to manage that stress or at least tamp it down for a while.

If we want to get a little biological for a second, this is all about cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone and all kinds of things throughout the day, release cortisol. Mostly, it’s the way we interpret what happens because one man’s bored, this another man’s relaxed. One of the things we need to do is recognize the things that make us feel stress. We have to think about how am I going to burn off the cortisol? That’s what you have to do. One of them is the ten-minute sanity walk. Although, I would expand it to twenty. Their size is a good thing. There’s certain kinds of foods that are good. Green tea, bananas, strange little things that you don’t even know about.

It’s taking a moment along the way to look at your big picture. What’s the big picture? Am I going to die over this? Sometimes it feels like you are, but can you take a moment and get quiet and get centered? There are so many mindfulness apps out there now. They’re all good one way or another. Some of us like to do things that are very quiet and silent. Some of us like to do things that are loud and noisy. Some of us like to be guided. Some of us like to do a big aerobics class. Some of us like to be in the mountains all by ourselves. We need to realize that whatever you do that’s mindful doesn’t necessarily mean you’re putting on your yoga pants or you’re putting on your meditation clothes.

It’s how do I get quiet for a few minutes? Exercise is great, but I still think it should be balanced because they lose their mind if they don’t get to work out. That’s maybe a whole another thing that could be some addiction almost. How do I do that thing? One of the things that’s fascinating is when it comes to first responders, there’s an amazing man who works with us. His name is Maddie Fiorenza and he’s Anaheim firefighter. He went through it and he came back from the edge. One of the things that we know about first responders in the last 2 to 3 years is that there have been more police and fire suicides than line of duty deaths. In other words, more people are killing themselves than dying on the job. Something’s wrong there.

We’re working on that and he’s part of a cool organization that works with veterans and first responders who have been suicidal. It takes them through a real intense process and they developed something that they call warrior meditation. Anyways, it’s a great name because it sounds cool and sounds tough, but in many ways, you may have heard of what’s called EMDR. It is Eye Movement Desensitization Retraining and it’s for healing trauma. What the meditation does is it has you go through these phases in about eighteen minutes of focusing on some things that allow you to get into that quiet space.

We would love to meditate if our minds could get quiet. Meditation is about making your mind quiet. It’s the other way around. We think, “Why can’t I ever do that because if I get quiet then my mind is going to go a thousand miles an hour.” There are some tricks and tips in this warrior meditation that people can do to help get real focused so that you forget that you don’t have to think. The next thing you know, you’re quiet and you feel good. There are twenty types of meditation. You might have to try a few different kinds. I did transcendental meditation for about 1.5 to 2 years, and I tried something else which felt like I was being disloyal to the TM guy. All the other ways I’ve done it have hit me so hard and well that I love doing guided meditation. I love doing my own meditation. I love doing walking meditation. I do all those kinds of things.

My academic background is theater. I was trained in guided visualization, meditation, relaxation techniques. As soon as anybody says anything like, “Let’s breathe.” I’m like, “I’m out.” It’s nice to have that ability to relax at a moment’s notice.

If my heart’s going fast, how do I slow my heart? If my blood pressure is up, how do I lower my blood pressure? If I have shallow breathing or I’m not breathing, I can’t tell you how many times in a day until someone stopped to breathe because we forget.

Which has become a cliché but it’s physiologically very valid.

I’m not talking about the meme, I’m talking about the real process of not breathing. All this stuff I’m doing feels like it’s been a natural progression of moving towards wellness. We have to be careful because a lot of things in wellness seem like they’re all very Eastern. Sometimes I run into resistance because people in the Western world already feel like they have a religion or a faith. If you’re going to make me do this stuff, doesn’t that mean I’m going to be a Buddhist? We’re talking about ancient practices for getting quiet. Learning to be with yourself and meditation is prayer.

Most people don’t know yoga was evolved as an exercise prior to meditation. You’re working it all out so you can become quiet. We think of it as that is the way you become quiet. In fact, it’s more of a body quieting so your mind can quiet, but it’s interesting. I’ve got one last question for you and Dr. Odom’s going to share something special for readers. I want to ask you the radical idea question. I know you’ve thought about this because you said you had one and you’re doing it. If you could change the world, a corner of it, the whole thing, what is your radical idea for transformation?

Whether it’s Corporate America or first responder world healthcare, wherever you talk about it, we need cultural change. Part of the problem with cultural change is that a lot of us have been around a long time. We’re used to what we do the way we do it. Before we can learn anything, we have to unlearn other things. Who’s the best group of people to teach? If you can think of anybody, any group of humans who are the best ones to teach, we’re going to learn it the fastest.

[bctt tweet=”Entertainment is one of the last frontiers for learning how to manage stress. ” username=”LibbyGill”]


The whole idea is we’re going to take wellness and it’s been tried in multiple places, but we’re going to bring a whole new way of doing wellness and infuse it into the school systems. We’re going to do it in a way that meets all those academic criteria. A common core. All those kinds of things that are what we have to live in and die by and get funded by. If we can start to teach the kindergartners how to do this, then they’re first graders and the next thing they’re twelfth graders and they’re not about to hurt themselves or someone else anymore. The second highest group of suicides are kids ages about 10 to 16. Do I feel like that’s something we need to focus on?

If we can do that and put that into the classroom, we can change who we are. Anything else is about fixing older broken people who deserve to be fixed and worked with too. It’s a lot easier if you’re learning it then you’re having to say, “That’s not the way we used to do it.” That’s my dream and that’s the direction that we’re headed. That came out of first responder stuff because my friend I told you about, Maddie Fiorenza, he’s been asked and hired by multiple fire police, police academies. He’s teaching this warrior meditation and other things to the young ones. From the beginning of their career in public safety, it’s like, “No, this is how you take care of yourself, and then it doesn’t ever have to get that bad. Taking it from that and bringing it down to the little ones.

That’s so great. I love it. In my book, The Hope-Driven Leader, I wrote about a woman who goes in and teaches yoga to elementary school kids and inner-city schools where they deal with things like gunshot fires at night. 

People have been doing that in an enlightened school district care. Private schools have been doing it, but we’re looking at doing it in a way that takes it across the board and that there’s no real argument because it’s into the curricular and there’s no way to say no.

I would be so thrilled if that’s in every school, in every kindergarten and every head start all over the country. You take on the rest of the world in your spare time. 

I still manage to meditate twice a day. I go trail running. I have dinner with my family almost every night.

I find walking very meditative for me. That’s when the ideas flow and it’s that sense of peacefulness, especially in nature, but around my neighborhood is fine too. Dr. Odom, you have offered something very generous and special. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Along the way, I accidentally on purpose started a retreat company that does wellness retreats. We have locations in Costa Rica and we have a location in Eastern San Diego County, a neat place in Warner Springs. I’d be happy to offer a 10% discount to anybody who wants to sign up for any of our wellness retreats. We do them in two different ways. We say, “Come to our retreat or bring your retreat to us.” For example, Costa Rica, an interesting thing happened. A lady called me from Spain. She said, “I’m an equine therapist and I’d like to do an equine therapy retreat at your location.” I said, “I don’t have a ranch and I don’t have horses in Costa Rica.” She goes, “No, that’s not it. You don’t know this but five kilometers from you is a horse rescue ranch. We’re going to come stay at your place. Build a retreat around it and go work with the rescue horses.”

They came and did a ten-day retreat. Anybody with a group retreat idea, we can do the logistics for it and help it all set up or we have our own that come periodically. You liked to have fun in the coast of Costa Rica. The one out in Boulder at Boulder Oaks Ranch tends to be a little bit more focused on a theme. We do corporate retreats. I’ve done the first responder spouse retreat, people who want to get real intense about what they’re doing. It’s an amazing place out there. If anybody who wants to try to do that, just go to our website, which is

Can they learn more about you there and see what you’re up to?

TRC 3 | Achieving Wellness
Achieving Wellness: We need to realize that whatever you do that’s mindful doesn’t necessarily mean you’re putting on your yoga pants or meditation clothes.


They can learn about corporate wellness, first responder wellness, all the things that we’re doing. We’d love to talk to anybody about what they need and how we could help, walk with them a little while and help them get where they want to go.

Thank you so much. I’m going to call my stationary bike now. It’s going to be warrior biking that I’m going to do on my bike. Thank you, Dr. Stephen Odom, for being with us and sharing so much. I appreciate it. Join us next time. 

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About Dr. Stephen Odom

TRC 3 | Achieving WellnessDr. Stephen Odom, PhD is distinguished healthcare professional with more than 30 years of expertise in the field as a C-Suite executive, owner, organizational consultant, speaker, and psychotherapist. He currently serves as the CEO and Chief Clinical Officer of First Responder Wellness by Simple Recovery and Shift Wellness. Within the wide scope of his professional career, he has remained grounded by the guiding principle that people can, and do, achieve and maintain wellness.

Dr Odom has been a wellness integration innovator in his clinical practice and leadership roles and has long understood the need for alternative or complementary modalities to achieve the best outcomes. His focus on First Responder Wellness was born of his family’s career backgrounds with the military, healthcare, law enforcement, and fire, and was honed as he created and led specialty programs for physicians, nurses, first responders and their families. He has worked with thousands of people in diverse settings, and knows with certainty that looking within, looking ahead, and connecting our bodies with our hearts and minds is the path to productive well-being.

Dr. Odom possesses an educational background in organizational behavior, clinical psychology and healthcare administration. This valuable combination allows him to integrate current research knowledge, clinical and administrative practice understanding, and practical, directly relevant experience. Previously Dr. Odom has held titles including CEO of New Vista Behavioral Health, VP of Program Development for CRC Health, Administrative and Clinical Director at various behavioral health and addiction treatment centers and hospitals in California, including Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach and El Camino Hospital in the San Francisco Bay area.

He has also held management roles at behavioral health facilities in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Stephen served as a university adjunct faculty member at the National Hispanic University in Psychology and Child & Adult Development where he was voted adjunct faculty of the year in 2005.

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