Patrick is the new clinical director of Pride; below is a conversation about his experience in the role so far and his hopes for the future:

What compelled you to get into the recovery field? 

 I did not set out wanting to work directly with substance use, it kind of organically evolved into that. I had family members that I was very close to that have suffered with substance use issues so I was definitely attracted to it subconsciously. 

It all started when was I was pre-med in college studying to be a doctor. I started doing rotations in hospitals and I realized the best part of my day was when I was often getting in trouble and getting pulled away because I was talking to the patients too much. I was talking with them about their troubles and what they were experiencing and me relating to them about that. I quickly realized how unhappy I was in the science program and what I could do to turn that into something else, and that led me to the counseling field.  

Then I did an internship that summer and part of it was doing assessments on children and families and figuring out what kind of services they needed. The other part was, the clinician that I was working with had to do substance use intakes every Monday and encouraged me to observe one. I did one and I loved it! It was the best part of my internship. I quickly ended up taking over a lot of the intakes, I just found that there was such a great need. When I look at a person, I see the whole person. Sometimes counselors cannot be holistic in their approach and focus only on the substance use when there are much larger issues at hand. And I felt like I had a really great knack for that. 

What was your role previous to your role here as Clinical Director of PRIDE at CRW? 

I was the Assistant Director for a supportive Housing program that serviced the young adult LGBTQ population. I also provided the clinical services there, My role was dual in the sense of providing the clinical services while assisting in the management of the program.  I interviewed and hired staff, worked with the Program Director on different development ideas for groups or anything programming related. We had a lot of social events that I would assist in running. When I came in, the program was a little bit of a mess. There were a lot of clients who were admitted into the program and given their apartment but were not ready for that and needed a much higher level of care. I was able to work with getting them referred to where they needed to be and then bringing in people who were really being set up for success. My biggest thing there was we went from having an incident every day to having an incident every six months. So at that point, I knew I did what I had come to do. That’s when I started looking to move on into more of a supervisory role, because part of my job there was supervising our life skills manager. In the past, I’ve supervised interns and other staff members as well and I knew early on in my career that that’s where I was going to end up focusing. There’s something about seeing someone learn something from you and apply that in their own way that is really rewarding. 

What compelled you to come to CRW? 

I’ve worked in treatment and I’ve seen treatment done in a lot of different ways, and I’ve never seen it done in such a positive way, a way of working with clients that is based on positive reinforcement and community building. It was more of let’s work as people and as a community to help each other. You know, I even feel like being there for a short time I’ve learned from the clients, I’ve learned from the other staff members, and I’ve learned from my supervisors. I have to say, Brendan Kavanaugh (Associate Executive Director of Clinical Programs) was a big draw. To be able to relate to someone who shares a similar clinical mindset as you is a very big deal for a clinician.   

Is that clinical mindset about a “strengths-based approach” or is it about more than that?  

It’s definitely about the strengths-based approach. And also, sometimes as clinicians, we can kind of get jaded, we can think ‘well, I’ve seen this before, so it’s going be exactly the same way.’ And that’s not the case with everybody. I see each case as individual, so it’s really about that individual based, person–centered approach. You know, we’re going look at this with a blank slate and go from there. 

What’s it been like for you as the new clinical director of the Pride Site residential program? 

It has been a bit of a baptism by fire due to the challenges posed by the pandemic which included some staff shortages and the unexpected availability of supervisors at times. So I chose to throw myself in and say let’s get this done, I can figure out ways to make things more efficient. Now I feel like we’re in a much better place. We had to do some program restructuring and we’re continuing to do that. I feel like I have all the support in the world from my team, so that is what really drives me and makes me feel secure in my position. 

Getting to be part of the team has been a real pleasure. I learn every day from those all around me. The most important thing is that everyone has a voice and the ears to listen. That is what makes CRW stand out.  

What do you see as your main goals as the new director of Pride and what do you see as the main challenges to getting there? 

As the clinical director, I see a couple of different focuses, one being building a strong team of clinical staff, Motivational Enhancement Counselors (MECs), and peer recovery advocates, and making sure that they’re all connected and working as a unit. My other goal in general is the efficiency and clinical development of the program. Making sure that we’re providing services that are based on our client’s needs, not our idea of what the needs are but what they’re presenting us with and then making sure things are running smoothly in terms of communication and structure.   

So that our audience can get to know you a little better, what are your interests outside of work? 

I am the biggest animal lover and a proud pet dad.  I have two dogs, and a cat. They’re all rescues. I’m a big proponent of animal rescue but I just love animals in general, even going to the zoo. My father at a young age would expose that to me, he’s also a very big animal lover. And I also really enjoy the mountains and water sports like kayaking, just being on the water is peaceful and serene. I’m also quite family oriented. I have a large Italian family; all my nieces and nephews are very important to me. 

Do you have any closing thoughts? 

I’m very happy to be a part of CRW, to be working with such an amazing team, to be providing services that are needed and to be part of developing and growing them is such a privilege. 

The real heroes are not people like me. I try to help where I can but in our real strength is in our frontline staff that come to work day in and day out with 110% effort. Social services is not for everyone; it takes a special soul and you will find plenty of them at CRW.