2012, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
2015, Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Argosy University, Phoenix
Dual Diagnosis Therapist at Partners in Recovery
“I was challenged by my instructors, was part of the campus community and served on the student body government from the first month I began school until the day I graduated with my master’s degree.”
Overcame Addiction to Help Others on a Path to Recovery
Jodie Gonzalez is a dual diagnosis therapist at Partners in Recovery, working toward her licensed professional counselor (LPC) credential and LASAC Licensed Associate Substance Abuse Counselor credential with a certification in equine therapy. “That is my passion,” she said. “I want to develop a program that transitions individuals from one life stage to another—mostly [aiding] substance users in the criminal justice system by using farm therapy.”
“I was raised in a dysfunctional family,” said Gonzalez. “Alcoholics, to be more precise.” Gonzalez describes herself as a child as being “troubled.” She said, “I started fighting a lot in the eighth grade, started using drugs and alcohol in the ninth grade and was in and out of jail up until the age of 32 years old. During that time I suffered much. I suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse.”
Chaos, according to Gonzalez, followed her everywhere. She suffered severe depression, tried to take her own life on more than one occasion and used drugs to self-medicate. “I lost my children, stopped taking care of myself and lived from home to home,” said Gonzalez. “The more I felt, the more I used.” It was in prison that Gonzalez turned her life around. During that time, she served five years in prison and started the healing process and her road to recovery. “I attended every 12-step meeting and accomplished over 240 meetings,” she said. “I walked away with over 32 certificates for classes that I had taken—some I took twice. I completed a one year women in recovery program and I started to sponsor people on the yard.”
These experiences showed her that others struggled with the same issues that she did. Gonzalez envisioned ways that she could help others, beginning with taking a distance learning program to earn an associate’s degree. She became the substance abuse clerk on her yard and began to see hope for her future.
Following her release from prison, Gonzalez stayed structured while living in a group home and identified a job that she truly wanted. To earn the degrees needed to reach her goal of helping others in need, she utilized her transitional recovery goal and enrolled in Argosy University. Gonzalez earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She was warned that her background could keep her from becoming a licensed practitioner, but Gonzalez continued studying and passed the national counselor exam (NCE) and the advanced alcohol and drug exam—which qualified her to become a licensed associate substance abuse counselor (LASAC). It took eight months for Gonzalez to prove to the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners that she had moved on from her past. In 2016, she was licensed.
Gonzalez added that her biggest struggle was fear—of both success and failure. “I had to sacrifice a lot to get here and I had great support from my Argosy University team and my significant other—I was not allowed to give up,” she said. Her instructor, Dr. Gold, served as both counselor and supporter, empowering Gonzalez to have confidence in her own abilities.
Gonzalez added that earning two degrees proved that she had more to give. “I chose Argosy University because the program was focused on psychology so I knew I would get a good education,” she said. “I felt empowered when I walked in and [as I worked] through the program”
Gonzalez mentions that her education transformed her into a professional with character and dignity. “I love who I am today,” she said. “I am strong and independent. I bought my first home and car. I have the ability to leave behind a legacy for my children and have become the role model that they deserve.” She takes pride in her empowerment and is thankful to help others. “I get to see individuals come back to life. Nothing is better than that nor more rewarding.”
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