I just responded to an interview request from a Master's level student doing her thesis about the field of addiction work. I took the time to respond and thought that it might also be useful information for anyone looking to learn more about who I am, my experience or orientation.
Background/experience/education of counselor; work setting/clientele I have been licensed since 1999, and have worked in the social services field since 1991. Most of that time was spent working with families and children in dependency (about 20 years), prevention, interventions, reunifications, terminations, foster care and adoptions. I spent another 7 years in disaster recovery after Hurricane Katrina. 10 years ago, I left a the non profit world, having attained national position, and have pursued my life long dream of being a hypnotherapist. I have been in private practice for 10 years now. Trauma is the thread that runs through all my work career.
Diversity/Social Justice issues: The preponderance of my career was spent in non- profit social services, I think I have been exposed to just about every special population that exist. I have served the underserved, the forgotten, the ignored, the marginalized and the hopeless. Because of that experience, today, I feel really competent to serve whomever comes through the door, but I continue to have a space in my heart for the children in foster care and often see them pro-bono because I want them to have access to treatments that can heal their wounds, not just medicate them.
Theoretical orientation & view of the healing process for addictive behaviors; There is a medical side to addiction and I refer to programs that support the kind of work that I do. I do believe it is vital to teach people skills for emotional self regulation and managing their experiences (meditation, mindfulness, bi lateral strategies, trances, etc). Beyond physiological addiction I am always after-what’s at the core, what needs to be healed so that this person can begin to make better choices-the behavioral component is only a symptom. Now, some “addictions” are easily addressed by straight up direct hypnotic suggestion (smoking and food for example), others require a transformation in experience.
Likes and dislikes of working in the field; advice for new counselors While I value the all of the experiences I had in social services, because they made me the expert in trauma that I am today; its a set up for burn out. Low wages, excessive hours, high stress, poor support…As a private practitioner, there is a business that has to be managed alongside your actual time with clients-that be a drag sometimes. My advice, find the things you like to do and go that route. I LOVE what I am doing today, I love helping people change quickly and make money. I love the flexibility, creativity and control I have over it all today.
Prediction/projection of the “state of the field” over the next ten years; The need is only going to grow-people seem more disconnected, lost and traumatized that ever. Medications are easy/quick; and everyone is taking them. Thats the downside. On the upside-There will be even more on-line mental health services, and virtual reality will become a corrective experience. My dream is that stigma is reduced more everyday and folks start to take seriously the mental/physical and emotional benefits of tending to their mental health daily. The mindfulness movement has normalized positive practices that anyone can do and I think that awareness is only going to grow.