Friday, May 23, 2008

5 Questions for Cindy Pence, Counselor

5 Questions is our ongoing feature where we introduce you to the people who make Brandywine Counseling run, spotlighting a different staff member every two weeks.

Name: Cindy Pence
Job: Counselor, Newark Center
Time with BCI: 4 years

1. Why did you decide to become an addiction treatment counselor?
I have my Bachelor’s in business, and I developed a love and desire to be in this field from my own experience and my own recovery, even though there weren’t drugs and alcohol in my recovery. I came from an abuse and codependency background, and in the midst of my therapy, from day one, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. And I knew that I could not be successful in this field until I had reached the healthy mindset that I needed to be in, in order to counsel other people. I went into my own therapy in ’97, and approximately 7 years after that, in ’04, I got the job with Brandywine, and I was very blessed when they offered it to me. And I’ve loved it. My job has had a positive impact on my own well-being in my own life outside of here, because I can practice here with clients what I already know from my own recovery knowledge.

2. Many of our staff decorate their office with personal items. Tell us what you have in your office.
It’s like my home! I wanted to have an office that was full of serenity, where people would feel comfortable. Instead of an office setting, a homelike, warm setting. When I had my interview with Pam [Stearn], I’ll never forget - when I saw my office, I cried, because I couldn’t believe, it was the first time I had a closed office with a door on it! And I remember looking in one of my corners, picturing a Christmas tree there. So ever since I’ve worked here, I’ve had a Christmas tree in my corner, and clients have always complimented my tree.

3. What is your biggest challenge in doing your job?
Having difficult clients. I have some that are very personable. They warm up to me, connect with me from day one. And then I have a select few who challenge my weaknesses with patience and endurance. But I also am blessed when I have these kind of clients, because it tells me where I need to work, and how I need to be professional in helping them, and focus on their needs.

4. What advice do you have for someone who would like to do the job you do?
Make sure they have a passion for it, and that they’re really attuned to other people and their needs. And they don’t put themselves ahead of the clients. They really have to have compassion for other people, and have good boundaries.

5. Tell us your favorite client success story.
I have a client that came to me on a contract, and is now going to be in [Methadone] Medical Maintenance II, where he gets the 14 days of wafers, by next month. So that right there has just been an accomplishment, where I worked well with him. He did the harder part, but I could see that his individual [sessions were] an asset in his life and [led to] good outcomes. [He learned to avoid] being around negative people, being influenced and triggered to go use illicit drugs. [He] developed a better support system, which I helped him do, and I also spoke of the consequences if he didn’t do it, which could help him make better changes and choices for himself. And as he was accomplishing through treatment, he would express self-assurance. He gives himself all the credit and not me, which was good.

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