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CooperRiis Names New Executive Director, Highly Acclaimed Psychologist Michael Groat

michaelgroatMichael Groat, PhD, a clinical leader at the Menninger Clinic in Houston for 9 years, will be the next Executive Director and President of the CooperRiis Healing Community starting Jan. 2.

He will succeed Virgil Stucker, who last year announced his intention to step down after serving as Executive Director and President since CooperRiis opened in 2003. Virgil will continue in a part-time role, helping with outreach and fundraising.

As Director of Menninger’s Adult Division, Michael led the Hope Program for Adults and Professionals in Crisis. At the time, he also served as associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine.

The American Psychoanalytic Association named Michael a Fellow in 2003-2004, and he was a 2004 fellow of the Psychoanalytic Research Training Program at the Anna Freud Centre at the Yale Child Study Center and Western New England Psychoanalytic Institute.

“Lisbeth and I have poured our hearts, souls and resources into CooperRiis,” said Board Chairman Donald Cooper, who started CooperRiis with his wife, Lisbeth, because of their personal experience with the mental health system. “The process of finding our next Executive Director to continue shepherding our mission has created anxious moments. After getting to know Michael and his family, we are so relieved and happy that someone of Michael’s caliber and ability has agreed to join us.”

 This marks the latest professional development milestone for CooperRiis, which has earned a national reputation for fostering a supportive, social environment that provides the clinical programs and positive conditions necessary for recovery. Previously in June, a world-class, award winning neuroscientist from Harvard was named research director to spearhead leading edge studies to improve the brain.

Michael’s hire continues CooperRiis’ commitment to provide the best of mental health science within a healing milieu that helps residents move from despair to a more fulfilling and hopeful life. About 80 percent of residents who complete the program reach the level of independence they desire and are successfully reintegrated into society.

Before Michael was hired, he held the healing community in such high regard; he often referred individuals and families to CooperRiis.

“It is so clear to me that the science of mental health yields its best outcomes when a person with mental illness can experience their recovery within a therapeutic community,” Michael said. “At CooperRiis, individuals can take the time they need to recover while being cared for by a community of staff and peers. I believe the synergy of extended time, a healing community and deeply respectful care is transformative. My family and I are thrilled to join CooperRiis. It is a rare find and I sense that everything I have come to value about relationships and healing has led me to this moment.”

Dr. Groat received his master’s degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and his doctorate degree in counseling psychology from the State University of New York, Albany. He completed a four-year advanced fellowship in psychodynamic psychotherapy and systems-based hospital work at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Mass.

Michael has published on topics ranging from attachment style, personality assessment and addictions to mentalizing-based approaches to treatment and impasses in treatment. He presents regularly at national professional meetings on approaches to mental health recovery.

Virgil said after the unanimous vote by the CooperRiis Board of Directors, that he cannot imagine a better person to be CooperRiis’ next executive director.

“Michael understands the heart and soul of therapeutic community and will continue to advance the CooperRiis Healing Community as an exemplary model of humane and effective care. I have known Michael for many years. His first-hand knowledge of how Austen Riggs and the Menninger Clinic have traditionally endorsed the fundamentals of therapeutic community will help CooperRiis assure that these fundamentals will continue into the future.”



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