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A world of experience

June 1, 2009
by Brian Albright
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After working in Alaska and Greece, Candace Clausen comes home to the Midwest

In her more than 30 years as a recovery and addiction counselor, interventionist, and executive, Candace Clausen, MBA, CADAC, ICADC, has worked in a variety of settings, in large and small facilities everywhere from Alaska to Greece. Her new position as executive director of Burkwood Treatment Center brings Clausen back home to the Midwest, where her career began.

Clausen is honored to have received the appointment at Burkwood, a licensed residential addiction treatment center in Hudson, Wisconsin, that is part of the CRC Health Group. Burkwood is near her family in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, where she grew up.

“Achieving directorships is a challenge in this industry, and it is deeply rewarding to be in this position,” Clausen says. “In this field, when you relocate you often have to start over in your career, so it's always a wonderful sense of accomplishment to be recognized this way.”

Clausen's roots in the behavioral healthcare field go back to 1977. She initially became interested in becoming a counselor after her own treatment experience. After working as an intern, Clausen became certified in addictions in the early '80s and received her master's degree in 2000. She also is an internationally certified drug and alcohol counselor as well as a compulsive gambling counselor, and she has experience working with transactional analysis and Trager therapy.

Clausen spent two months helping establish a new substance abuse program on Skiathos, a Greek island, and served as the business manager for Gateway Center for Human Services, a mental health and substance abuse treatment provider in Ketchikan, a community in southeastern Alaska.
Candace clausen, mba, cadac, icadc. photographer: kathy a. steffens

Candace Clausen, MBA, CADAC, ICADC. Photographer: Kathy A. Steffens

“That experience in Alaska was very unique,” she recalls. “The people were wonderful to work with, but the environment was extremely difficult. It rained constantly, almost every day and all night long.”

Over the years she has led Westcenter Rehabilitation Facility (part of the Tucson General Hospital) and Sierra Tucson, an addiction and behavioral health treatment facility in Arizona, as well as worked at the addiction treatment center Cottonwood de Tucson and as an interventionist in private practice. Clausen also directed an addiction recovery program she authored at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth, Minnesota, while working with CREATE, Inc.

Burkwood, her current post, specializes in treating clients with addiction issues and co-occurring mental illnesses such as depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. As executive director, Clausen hopes to work more closely with insurers and expand the facility's client base.

In fact, in Clausen's first two months onboard Burkwood bought a second house, increasing its number of beds from 29 to 35. “We aren't trying to get a lot larger, but this is a wonderful program and we want to broaden the scope of the clients we serve,” Clausen explains. To that end, she is reaching out to the local Native American community to offer treatment services.

Clausen says that Burkwood fills a niche between court-mandated public programs and more expensive private recovery facilities. “We really sit in between,” she points out. “We want to be available for someone who is committed to treatment and maybe can't afford some other programs.”

Working with insurers has been Clausen's biggest challenge so far. “There are fewer funds available for drug and alcohol treatment, and some insurance companies will deny a certain number of days of treatment,” she says. “We don't have the HMO complications that we had in the past, but there are still some insurance companies that won't cover a full three- to four-week treatment plan. But outcome studies show that treatment is more effective, and recovery longer lasting, when we are able to work with someone for multiple weeks.”

While her work has taken her across the country and overseas, Clausen says that the need for services is similar from region to region. “I'm happy that I have a background working in different types of economic environments and situations,” Clausen says. “But the disease remains the same no matter where you are. It devastates families and the addicted person in the same way.”

Brian Albright is a freelance writer. Behavioral Healthcare 2009 June;29(6):45