Friday, February 13, 2009

5 Questions for Jennifer Rossiter, Assessor

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: Jennifer Rossiter
Job: Assessor, Probation and Parole/Alpha Program, New Castle Center
Time with BCI: 9 years

1. Tell us about the relationship between the BCI assessors and the probation officers. What benefits are there to being located at the same site?
I think the relationship’s great. I love working with probation officers. The benefit is, they have instant access to us. They can have a walk-in. Let’s say a client has missed an appointment because the client was working, and they come in for report day. The P.O. can come and say, “Hey, listen, this guy is working. He can’t make it any other time. Can you see him today?” And sometimes it can be right then, or we’ll see them in an hour, so that’s really an advantage for the client.

The probation officer has instant access to our recommendation, and a lot of times, they’ll stop in, [and] ask me about different drug effects. Actually, yesterday, somebody was suicidal, and one of the P.O.’s came down and asked me to go talk to the person. They might ask about meetings, they might ask about resources. So I think it’s great for the probation officers, because we’re here, and if they have a question, we can answer it as quickly as we can for them. And for the client - they don’t have to go running around town. They can see their probation officer, and come right to us, instead of having to try to get transportation - if they have a drug charge they usually lose their license - so it makes it easier for them, too.

2. Why did you decide to work in addiction treatment?
My life’s given me the opportunity to have a lot of experiences that can relate to other people. And I noticed that throughout most my life, people come up and tell me their life stories. They tell me their problems, things like that. And I figured I ought to start getting paid for it. (Laughs) And then I decided that, I got in the field and I was gonna save the world. I found out that you can’t save the world, but you can help some people save themselves. And I like that.

3. What would people be surprised to know about your job?
Sometimes we deal with people who don’t have an addiction problem. Or they may be social users of alcohol, and something happened and they broke a law and they ended up in the criminal justice system. We may be the only people in the addictions field that they encounter. And they don’t want to be here, they “know” they don’t have a problem, maybe they just made a really bad decision and they got in trouble with the law. So here they are, they’re told they have to go have this assessment, to see if they have an addiction or some kind of problem - so that in itself has got to be very uncomfortable. And sometimes the client or consumer is very uncomfortable when they come in. We may be only connection they have with the addictions field. And somebody might say, “Well, yeah, you’re in Probation and Parole, they all have an addictions problem.” No, they don’t. And that might surprise a lot of people.

4. Tell us your favorite client success story.
It was a while ago, and it was back when the “three time loser law” was actually in effect. This person was looking at a life sentence, and he was involved in treatment. He had a history of dealing drugs, and possession. And because he was involved in treatment, the judge gave him a break. A couple years later, he found me and asked me to go to an NA anniversary meeting of his. And in the meeting, he said that he wanted to thank a counselor that hadn’t given up on him. And as far as I know, he’s now a minister of a very active congregation. That was very rewarding, because he didn’t give up on himself.

5. If you had $30,000 to donate to BCI what would you do with it?
I have a pretty strong feeling about this one. I would donate it to educational resources to start training more counselors to deal with men who have been abused sexually. Other than - is Brenda still in the basement? Okay, I’d give some money to get her an office! (Laughs)

I was a clinical supervisor and provided service at a men’s halfway house many years ago. And this isn’t a scientific study, and it’s only a guess, but my guess would be, at least 80% of the men who landed in the halfway house - which means they had usually several episodes of treatment unsuccessfully - have been sexually abused. And I think they carry a lot of pain that goes along with addictions, and I don’t really think it’s been addressed yet, the way it should be, and needs to be, for the whole society.

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