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A Day in the Life of Substance Use Counselors

Our staff members are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. In fact, we’re saving lives every single day. This is particularly true of our substance use counselors, who help our residents bring about positive changes in themselves in order to find success.

Substance use counselors typically run individual and group counseling sessions. Topics involve stories and life traps, families, coping skills, health and wellness, discharge planning, and more. Our substance use counselors also create treatment plans and document residents’ progress towards their self-selected goals.

Meet Two of Our Substance Use Counselors

Sheena Thomas, Madonna House's mental health and family counselor

Sheena Thomas, Madonna House’s mental health and family counselor

Sheena Thomas is the mental health and family counselor at Madonna House. There, she brings a focus to boundaries for the residents. “Ask anyone here what my favorite word is, and they’re going to tell you ‘boundaries’,” she said with a smile. Sheena integrates substance use into mental health and counseling with families.

Joshua Kellick, senior counselor at Supportive Living, values the flexibility of his program. “It’s a great mixture between independent housing and community residences,” he explained. In his seven years with the agency, Joshua has taken advantage of opportunities for advancement. “I’ve been able to challenge myself personally and professionally,” he said.

Providing residential treatment and support services allows counselors to work with their residents on an intensive basis. This, of course, has benefits for residents, but it brings good things for staff, too. “I can see their growth really happening,” Sheena notes. “The change is so evident. It’s amazing.”

Our counselors are able to encourage these changes through creative treatment interventions. Sheena states that “Expectations are very clear, but I feel like I have a lot of freedom.” Joshua agrees: “We’re always trying new things.”

Substance Use Counselors and Professional Growth

Joshua Kellick, Supportive Living senior counselor

Joshua Kellick, Supportive Living senior counselor

Both Joshua and Sheena look forward to continuing their education as substance use counselors. Joshua plans to focus more on the LGBTQ+ community as we’re seeing an increase in transgender individuals in our programs. At the same time, Sheena is concentrating on schema therapy and trauma. She says that knowledge of Trauma-Informed Care is essential for substance use counselors today.

Staff across the agency say that every day is different here at Cazenovia Recovery. Certainly, our residents are dynamic and always bring something new to the table. Sheena loves to see them have “light bulb” moments. “Those epiphanies make this job so rewarding,” she explained. Meanwhile, Joshua finds satisfaction in encouraging his staff and residents to be their very best. “We let people grow,” he said.

If you’d like to become one of Cazenovia Recovery’s substance use counselors, see our open positions on our employment page.

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