As the addiction field commemorates Addiction Professionals Day today, Sept. 20, many experts see clinical professionals at an important crossroads. Counselors are preparing to embark on new partnerships that could redefine their careers, but they also consider it essential to bring with them important traditions that they say cannot be left behind.
A counselor who today will be honored by NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals at the National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD) welcomes the opportunity to work with physicians and other medical professionals to benefit clients, but adds that the spiritual and personal connections that have defined specialty addiction treatment must not be broken.
“All the technological advances, which are wonderful, still mean we have to have people dealing with people,” says Thomas A. Peltz, CAS, LADC-I, a Massachusetts private-practice counselor who today will be named NAADAC’s 2011 Lora Roe Memorial Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselor of the Year.
Peltz adds, “When we talk about wellness, we mean wellness physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. The spiritual gets the least press; that is very sad.”
Addiction Professionals Day has become a signature commemoration that coincides with the monthlong celebration of the individual in recovery under Recovery Month activities. Today at 12:30 p.m. at the Town ands Country Ballroom in the Conference Center, NAADAC will present awards to Peltz and Rocio Del Milagro Woody, MSW, founder of behavioral health private practice Road to Recovery, Inc. in Georgia and the winner of the Mel Schulstad Professional of the Year Award.
The career paths of Peltz and Woody both serve as examples of a client-focused mentality that characterizes so many addiction professionals even as they cope with documentation requirements, insurance rules and funding cuts. Peltz says that at one point he returned to direct patient care from an administrative role because of the human interaction. He says of himself and his colleagues, “Our fears need to be put aside to help patients get what they need.”
Woody, who has worked primarily with Latino immigrant populations in Georgia and has found multi-systemic approaches most effective, has sought to identify needs in minority communities that have barely appeared on the radar screens of other providers and entities. She says of the award she will receive today, “This recognition helps me realize that if you are willing to help those that are most in need, the extraordinary can always happen in our lives.”
Peltz and Woody see numerous challenges ahead for the clinical professional community. Peltz has prioritized the effort to assist new arrivals to the field, in order to counteract the graying of the profession. “Students of any age bring new vitality,” he says.
Woody sees great promise in health reform, but significant concern over continued attempts to restrict coverage for certain populations. “Healthcare, including mental healthcare for substance-related disorders, should be guaranteed as a human right in the most powerful nation in the world,” she says.