Working in addiction treatment can be tough, but our incredible staff love their jobs. This week, we’re talking with one of our Master’s level clinicians, Shannon Coolahan, who has worked in our outpatient treatment center located in Waltham, Massachusetts for the past two years.
What brought you to Spectrum Health Systems?
After graduating from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island and completing my graduate degree at Marymount University in Virginia, I moved to the Boston area to find a job. As I began researching job opportunities, I came across Spectrum – not just one job opening but multiple opportunities across many locations, which demonstrated that Spectrum is a large company with lots of services. I saw this as an opportunity to grow in my career.
Why did you decide to work in addiction treatment?
I majored in psychology and criminal justice, and originally, I wanted to work in corrections while helping those with mental health illnesses. I became interested in the treatment of substance use disorders as I’ve always been interested in the effects that drugs have on the body, how they alter people’s behavior and how they impact relationships.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love meeting with clients every day, whether it’s one-on-one or in group sessions. I like seeing clients work towards their goals and make positive changes in their lives and attitudes. It’s a great feeling to see clients feel proud of themselves and accomplishing what they set out to do. It’s incredibly rewarding.
What do you wish people knew about addiction?
It’s difficult to hear stories about people who get cut off by family and friends and are told to “just change your habits” or “just stop doing drugs” when it’s so much more than that. I wish people had a better understanding of the disease and how tough it is to get a handle on addiction. We need to understand that this is a disease and it’s difficult, but not impossible, to make changes.
What is a day in the life like for you?
My job is different every day. My responsibilities include meeting with clients individually or running group sessions – I currently run six. Our groups vary from people in the early stages of recovery to those in long-term recovery. In the beginning, groups are focused on relapse prevention, identifying triggers, learning how to handle cravings and building a foundation for recovery.
Further down the line, we focus on mental health and recognizing how depression, anxiety, trauma and more can play a role in addiction and how to create balance in our lives. We focus on creating positive behaviors, handling stressful situations and other daily occurrences. Groups are a great place for people to meet others in recovery, learn from peers and share experiences. It’s a great support network.
Additionally, I provide individual therapy and help clients through their personal struggles, whether it’s relationship conflicts, abuse, depression or anxiety.
What makes working for Spectrum unique?
Spectrum has everything to offer its clients – from detox to inpatient treatment to varying levels of outpatient programming. In our medication-assisted treatment program, we don’t just provide methadone, we offer buprenorphine, vivitrol and more, so we have options to work with and are better equipped to find a good fit for each client. We offer a continuum of care and the ability to work together to provide clients with everything they need at each point in their recovery.
Tell us more about your life outside Spectrum. Do you have any hobbies or activities that you?
I love exercising, beach trips and reading. I recently took up snowboarding and love it!
To learn more about other amazing Spectrum employees, check out past posts here – and stay tuned for more!