Cherie Mills founded Compass Behavioral Health in 2014. As Executive Director, Cherie oversees the implementation of Compass' Mission Statement and adherence to its driving principles.
After nearly 20 years of working in the treatment of severely troubled adolescents, Cherie noticed a disturbing commonality among the inpatient teens and young adults she worked with: For those who suffered with depressed moods, suicidal ideation and other challenging behaviors - many were not showing improvement, even after treatment. "When I interviewed the young adults on our psych ward who weren't getting better I heard the same statements over and over," Cherie recalls. "'(The patient said) "I've been in the hospital multiple times, tried every class of meds, have seen a handful of therapists and psychiatrists, and nothing helps. It must be me, I must be too broken to be fixed.'"
It was during those years that Cherie saw a prolific need for a local, outpatient clinic that focused solely on providing early diagnosis and evidenced-based treatments for children, adolescents, and young adults with emotional dysregulation. After talking and working closely with hundreds of patients and their families, it became clear to Cherie that successful treatment of teens with mood disorders hinged on providing them with an effective, treatment program before they started to form their identity around their depression. "Before their identity literally became 'depressed and suicidal;'" she says. "Before they developed a mindset that nothing could help or that they were 'broken,' that was when they needed help the most." It was with these families in mind that Cherie founded Compass Behavioral Health.
Cherie has been intensively trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), through Behavioral Tech, the training institute founded by DBT creator Dr. Marsha Linehan. In addition, Dr. Melanie Harned, Research Director at Dr. Linehan's lab at the University of Washington, has intensively trained Cherie in Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) in a DBT framework. Additionally, Cherie has been comprehensively trained as a Family Connections (FC) Leader by Dr. Alan Fruzzetti, FC treatment developer, in alliance with the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality. Cherie has also been intensively trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders (CBT-E) through Oxford's Center for Research on Eating Disorders.
Cherie has specialized in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and their families for almost 20 years. For the first part of her career, she specialized as a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. Her background includes working in adolescent residential settings, group homes, children and youth outpatient clinics, in-patient and partial hospitalization settings, and managed care, reviewing standards of care at a national level.
While working as a manager of quality assurance for inpatient psychiatry, she further developed her focus on treatment outcomes. Since 2004, Cherie has had the privilege of guest lecturing in Didactic Rounds for UCI Medical Center's child and adolescent psychiatry fellows and PGY 3 residents on the topic of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
Cherie Mills' degrees and recognitions also include:
- Undergraduate degree from Vanguard University in Cultural Anthropology
- Master's degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy from Fuller Theological Seminary's Graduate School of Psychology
- Certification as a Play Therapist from UCSD Extension
- Past Director of the Advisory Board to Orange County Parenting Magazine and a contributing writer.
- 1999 nominee for Mental Health Care Professional of the Year for Orange County for her effective treatment outcomes (now titled Thomas F. Riley Award).
- DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Clinician™