September marks the season for nationwide commemorations to celebrate the individual in recovery as part of Recovery Month, but in recent years it also has become the time to honor the work of the clinical professional who is often instrumental in facilitating recovery.
Today, Sept. 20, marks the official Addiction Professionals Day, although events have been scattered throughout the calendar this month and will extend farther into the fall. Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, executive director of NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals, says it is important for addiction treatment organizations to look for ways to celebrate their clinical staff, even when the resources for offering more extensive benefits remain scarce.
“Our people don’t get a lot of recognition and reward for their work, and it’s tough work,” says Tuohy. She adds, “A little bit of ‘I care about you’ goes a long way.”
Tuohy says the idea for Addiction Professionals Day came from a NAADAC constituent who suggested that selecting an actual commemoration date would give the effort some national momentum. Participating organizations have come up with ideas big and small for honoring their clinicians, from treating the staff to lunch to holding formal awards ceremonies for outstanding service.
In Virginia, the home state of NAADAC’s national headquarters, the association in collaboration with an Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) will hold a free training session where counselors can learn about evidence-based practices in a casual setting. About 40 to 50 clinicians from Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area are expected to attend. Similar Addiction Professionals Day trainings have been conducted in South Carolina, says Tuohy.
In other events, Washington state has sponsored a retreat for clinicians on self-care issues; this was a topic that captured a great deal of attention among the meeting sessions at the NCAD 2010 conference earlier this month (an event that incorporated NAADAC’s annual meeting and was produced by Vendome Group, publisher of Addiction Professional). In Alaska, Addiction Professionals Day serves as the backdrop for an awards presentation encompassing addiction counselors and administrators.
Tuohy says the day offers NAADAC a chance to remind those who care for others that the association and other groups in turn are there for the caregivers.
“A former colleague of mine used to say that the staff are the essence of the program,” she says.