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Working with My Mentor has been a Profound Experience.”

Randy Jo Nielsen, B.S.Ed., CADC, LAADAC, CCSRandy Jo Nielson
Assistant Treatment Program Manager
Department of Community Correction, Ft. Smith, Arkansas

Randy Jo Nielsen began her life after college with a B.S. degree and looking for a job in the education field.  Strictly through happenstance, she found herself working part-time in a treatment facility as an assistant teacher. 

How did you choose to be in the addictions field?
Actually, the treatment field chose me.  In recovery I realized my mission was to serve in the addictions field and my part-time job at the treatment facility opened the door for me to become a therapist.

How were you paired with your mentor?  We had input on who we would like for a mentor and then mentors were matched.  Not to be too cliché, but it really felt like a “God experience; a miracle situation,” because I was matched with a mentor who gave me exactly what I needed.  

How did your mentor help you?  My mentor had far more practical experience than I and was able to guide my clinical needs.  She shared so much with me!  For instance, she gave me a lot of reference information; allowed me to sit in on clinical staff meetings; shared tried and true experiences; gave me books to read; and was very engaging.  I admired her for modeling the behavior she was asking from her staff.  This whole process has given me more confidence and working with my mentor has been a profound experience. We are still in touch because I taught an LGBT class and we have been involved with further sharing of information on LGBT trainings and curriculum for her program.

What was your Leadership Institute project? My project, with guidance from my mentor, involved utilizing the TAP-21 manual (Addiction Counseling Competencies: The Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes of Professional Practice) and the Rubric evaluation with staff.  Because access to all counselors would be practically impossible, I tailored the program for five counselors. This training and performance assessment for the Addiction Counseling Competencies was very beneficial and needed by these counselors.  In fact, we need more training for all our staff and I plan to engage the rest of the counselors in increments.

What advice would you give to future Leadership Institute protégés?   Put 100% in all activities. Taking part in the Leadership Institute takes focus and commitment!

Randy Jo Nielsen's Bio

Randy Jo Nielsen received her Bachelor of Science in Education degree at Arkansas Tech University in 1994 with Magna Cum Laude honors.   She was also awarded Certified Clinical Supervisor of the Year in 2007 and Counselor of the Year in 2005. Randy Jo is currently serving as the Assistant Treatment Program Manager, Department of Community Correction, in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

She has extensive supervision, training and education experience in treatment facility settings.  For the past four years Randy has been a Treatment Services Clinical Supervisor within parole/probation and supervises drug court programs.

In addition, Randy is a member of the Arkansas Substance Abuse Certification Board (ASACB) and the Arkansas Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (AADAC).
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