For the fourth time, Addiction Professional is pleased to honor exemplary clinical professionals as a way of giving credit to dedicated clinical service delivered throughout the field. Our annual Outstanding Clinicians Awards honorees are selected based on nominations submitted by our print and online readers, in the categories of counselor, clinical supervisor/manager, and physician.
The three award winners profiled this year, Pat Hurt, Rawland Glass and Lauren Lehmann, MD, have embraced the challenge of working with some of the field’s highest-need patient populations: adolescents, individuals with process addictions, and military veterans. We will formally honor our winners October 1, 2012 at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) in Orlando, Fla.
Nominating Organization: The Grace Homes, Visalia, Calif.
Quote: “I’m a cognitive-behavioral therapist, so I’m looking at restructuring clients’ very somber thinking about themselves and how they see themselves in the world.”
Comment from a colleague: “Ms. Hurt’s passion to help change lives one at a time by providing skilled counseling is her strength,” stated Grace Homes program administrator Glenda Kuns. “She is a wonderful mentor and role model to other women.”
In her numerous contract roles as an addiction counselor and licensed clinical social worker, Pat Hurt has earned a reputation as a bridge builder and troubleshooter. That came to life in a recent interview with Addiction Professional, when she had to cut the appointment short because two of the young women she counsels appeared to be headed for an altercation off-site. She was the agency’s go-to source for heading off a crisis.
Hurt has worked with both adults and adolescents in a variety of therapeutic and criminal justice settings in California, but she arguably earns the greatest measure of credibility from her young charges, given that she once was a pregnant and out-of-control teen trying to find her way.
“When you meet me, it’s real apparent,” says Hurt, who was nominated for an Outstanding Clinicians Award by colleagues at The Grace Homes faith-based residential programs for adolescents, where she serves as a contract therapist. “Kids are very good at sizing someone up. I’m very clear in my communication and never disrespectful.”
Hurt’s firsthand knowledge of who the players were in the criminal justice arena paid off for her in the late 1960s and early ’70s as she pursued a career in Tulare County, Calif., after earning a degree in criminology. Her roles over the years ranged from counseling in correctional settings to conducting outpatient groups for parolees.
She believes she was welcomed into justice settings, even at times when recovery professionals and law enforcement officials still were seen as coming from opposite “camps,” because she had clinical skills, a recovery history, and an ability to regulate her own thoughts and emotions when working with individuals who struggle in those areas.
“When we’re young, we make very poor choices out of trying to resolve our needs, without much information,” Hurt says. “There hasn’t been a sense that we’ve been loved or nurtured. It isn’t always overt neglect—it could be that both parents were working and their primary focus was on [financially] supporting the family.”
Her cognitive-behavioral approach to treatment seeks to assist young people in restructuring their thinking. She also looks for visual, concrete representations to share, as she says the young women she presently works with often have had their abstract thinking capabilities significantly compromised. In one of her exercises, “They write and draw things that represent recovery on bricks, and this becomes the foundation for their recovery goals,” she says.
Hurt maintains ongoing relationships with many of her young clients. “They send me photos of their children or of themselves in college,” she says. “It becomes important for them to show that they are working hard. I always tell them that I’m not looking for perfection, just looking for progress.”
Position: Clinical director
Organization: The Bridge to Recovery, Bowling Green, Ky.
Quote: “You’re really in a dual relationship with counselors. You’re supervising them as an employee, but on the other hand they are my clients. I need to know what’s triggering them in groups, and how they are working things out.”
Comment from a colleague: The colleague who nominated Glass for the award wrote, “His experience with managing people and complex projects allows him to guide a team of therapists in working with individuals with varied personalities who are struggling with codependency, trauma and numerous process addictions.”
The Bridge to Recovery engages in complex clinical work in order to probe underlying issues behind patients’ substance and process addictions. But amid this intensive work, Rawland Glass says his duties in supervising the direct-care staff at the organization’s Kentucky location also must address the mundane details: Are clinicians dressing properly for work? Are groups starting on time?
“This is crucial to clients receiving the care they need and deserve,” Glass says.
Glass has worked full-time at The Bridge to Recovery for more than two years, after having served as a contract therapist. He oversees a total of about a dozen counselors, house managers and other client service workers at any time, and says he prefers to maintain a direct but respectful style in which both he and the clinical staff have license to address problems head-on.