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David Powell, considered father of clinical supervision, dies in Conn.

November 7, 2013
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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David J. Powell, PhD, the leading influence for high-quality clinical supervision in addiction treatment and a world traveler for building treatment options in countries with no history of healing addicts, died Nov. 1 at his home in Connecticut. He was 68 years old.

Powell served as president of the International Center for Health Concerns, Inc., and spent extensive time working in Asia and visiting numerous countries lacking any medical or compassionate approaches to treating addiction. He was a frequent contributor to Addiction Professional on numerous topics, including emotional recountings of several of his memorable visits around the world.

In the clinical arena, Powell made his greatest mark in advancing the techniques of sound clinical supervision of addiction counselors, and his book Clinical Supervision in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling is considered a must-have in treatment organizations. He had worked in the behavioral health field since the mid-1960s, and had mentored countless clinical managers and clinicians. He was licensed as an addiction counselor and a marriage and family therapist.

“Possibly the most notable thing about David was his extensive network of colleagues, many of whom became his friends,” close colleague and friend Gerald Shulman said in a comment posted this week in a news release from CRC Health Group. Both Powell and Shulman, a leading consultant in the addiction and mental health field, served on CRC’s clinical advisory board.

Powell’s wife Barbara e-mailed friends and family members last week to inform them that her husband had died in a fall from the upper deck of their home while sweeping leaves. She wrote that two weeks earlier, her husband had walked his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. “He was very happy and looking forward to the many adventures life was bringing him,” she wrote. “I know he was deeply grateful for your friendship.”

In Powell’s most recent Addiction Professional article, published online Oct. 9, he argued that self-care is much talked-about but too rarely acted upon in the addiction field. He cited basic details that he would change if he were granted a “do-over” in life, such as maintaining a healthier weight and being more accepting of life on its terms.

He concluded the article with, “So, do over what you can, start early, live in the present moment, and you’ll be a better addiction professional in the end.”

A memorial service for Powell is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. at South Congregational Church in Granby, Conn. Barbara Powell is asking friends and colleagues to bring their stories/remembrances to the service or to send them to her; Barbara's e-mail address is barbarabpowell@yahoo.com.

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