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Drug, alcohol counseling program one of nation's best

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by Noah AdamsCASCADE CAMPUS – Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus Alcohol and Drug Counseling program has never been better. With increased enrollment and enthusiasm, the program is in full swing with a new set of graduates ready to enter the treatment and counseling workforce this spring. Graduates of the program motivate clients to enter treatment, conduct intake interviews, write treatment plans, provide individual counseling, conduct family education, group counseling and manage cases. They also use multi-cultural competency skills and gender-specific treatment methods.Students enter the program with a variety of educational goals: graduation, employment, professional upgrading and self-improvement. Upon completion, they can work in public and private-sector organizations to provide diagnosis, assessment, education, referral and treatment services to clients with alcohol and other drug problems. Students can earn an associate’s, which is 97 credit hours, or they may also earn a prevention specialist certificate. Other options include the addiction studies certificate designed to provide additional education and training for those who already have a college degree.Stephanie Tompkins is working towards her associate’s of applied science degree at the Cascade Campus. She is currently doing her practicum work at the Native American Recovery Association site in southwest Portland. How is the Drug and Alcohol counseling program working out for you? Tompkins: It’s a good program. It’s hard work. You learn stuff technically, but when you get more into the program, it becomes more about finding out who you are. If you don’t know who you are or how you feel about things, there’s no way you can sit across from a client and understand where theyre coming from. It’s very good training.So the instructors have been more than helpful in providing the support you need? Tompkins: Yes, all the instructors are very professional and also very supportive and knowledgeable. Jon Giber is an amazing instructor as well as Susan Garber. She’s really into it.Would you say there’s a strong connection between the coursework at PCC at the site you work at? Tompkins: Definitely. When they train us they know what to prepare us for. A person who just shows up for class is going to get a lot. So if you really excel and go hard into the program, how much you put into it is how much your going to get out of it. Where do you see yourself upon completion of the program? Tompkins: I’d like to continue my education. Of course, the mental health part of it, other than just the addiction part. I’d like to keep training but I’d like to see myself working with the Native American population. The advisor here has already talked about hiring me.Elizabeth Call, a graduate of Marylhurst University, recently finished the addiction studies certificate program at PCC. She now does her practicum work at the Men’s Center on Martin Luther King Blvd in northeast Portland. Call says the PCC program is every bit as challenging as the one at Marylhurst.So what’s your general outlook on PCC’s Addiction Studies Certificate Program? Call: The program at PCC is one of the most successful and it’s one of the top in the nation and people who come through the program have a great advantage over those who don’t from other areas. We have a reputation of being well educated and the training is just superb. Those of us who have bachelor’s degrees have to spend a minimum of six months at one practicum site. Anyone else needs to spend an additional year in the classes at the site. Is the program everything you thought it would be? Call: Yes. The teachers were excellent. They really knew their stuff, they work out on the field, and they’re always available, which you can’t say about a lot of programs. They’re very caring, and I could even call one of them up right now if I had any questions. What would you tell people considering entering the program? Call: If they feel pulled into working in this program, they should go to an orientation session and ask all the questions they have. It’s work, and your heart has got to be in it. The facilities I work in, the criteria is criminology, so I work with sixty guys, and they all have a criminal record. You’ve got to prepare yourself for that, so I would say do your work and ask lots of questions and the counseling has got to be in your heart. It has to be something you want to do for a living, because your heart’s going to get tattered. You don’t have to have a drug and alcohol background. A lot of counselors do. There are pluses and minuses to both, and one is not any more advantageous than the other, and we can both be effective, and we don’t look upon each other any different, whether weve used or we havent used.On Thursday, Feb. 10, PCC’s drug and alcohol counseling program was featured on the local nightly news. The office is located on the Cascade Campus in Jackson Hall 210. For more information, contact Susan Garber at 503-978-5245 or the medical technologies office at 503-978-5661. Students are encouraged to stop buy and pick up information.####This article is used with permission from The Bridge student newspaper at PCC and has been edited for content. Noah Adams is co-enrolled at PCC and PSU. He is studying music and journalism. He lives in northeast Portland.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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