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Counseling Awareness Month: Spotlight on Jolene Ward!

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Counseling Awareness Month is celebrated each year in April. Sponsored by the American Counseling Association (ACA), the month-long observance honors counselors of all kinds, including mental health counselors, school and college counselors, career counselors, and of course, substance use disorder (SUD) counselors.

Here at Gaudenzia, the counselors at our SUD treatment programs make an impact in their communities every single day. This lifesaving work takes empathy, dedication, and grit. We’re excited to honor and celebrate some of the incredible counselors we have on our team this month, and today we’re turning the spotlight on Jolene Ward.

A Q&A with Jolene Ward

Jolene Ward is a Counselor III at Gaudenzia’s Community House for Women and Children. While she’s been with the organization since September 2020, she completed her bachelor’s internship through Gaudenzia’s Clinical Internship Program in 2019 and followed suit for her master’s level internship the following year. Jolene attended Edinboro University for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Though she knew she wanted to work in a profession where she could help others, it was working one-on-one with clients during her internships at Gaudenzia that helped her realize she wanted to be a counselor. We’re so grateful to Jolene for taking the time to answer our questions!

Can You Describe a “Day in the Life” as a Counselor at Gaudenzia?

A “day in the life” for me would include meeting with clients once a week to discuss their progress in the program, identifying and monitoring goals they have set, reviewing treatment work, and processing their specific needs. There’s also facilitating clinical groups once a week, and some psychoeducational groups throughout the week as well. Another component of my role involves collaborating with outside providers and family members, including facilitating family sessions. Finally, documentation and documentation.

What Unexpected Lessons Have You Learned About Counseling in the SUD Treatment Field?

After working in the field, I learned a lot about trauma and how it impacts individuals who have experienced substance use. I also learned how prevalent co-occurring mental health disorders are with SUD.

What are the Biggest Challenges SUD Counselors Face Today?

I feel some of the biggest challenges counselors face today is being understaffed and trying to complete documentation in a timely manner while ensuring that our clients’ needs are met.

How Do You Take Care of Yourself to Prevent Burnout?

To prevent burnout, I practice self-care frequently and check in with my supervisor at least once a month to work through vicarious trauma.

What is the Best Part of Your Job?

The best part of my job is when clients who have completed the program stop by or call to share how their recovery is going and how they are achieving their life goals.

What Advice Do You Have for New Counselors Entering the Field?

Always remain positive and do the best you can. I also recommend making sure you take care of yourself. Practice self-care often.

If you or someone you love needs help with addiction treatment, please contact our Treatment and Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP (4357) or email [email protected] today.

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