Prevention is fortunate to have a significant number of dedicated and competent prevention specialists who are clearly leaders in the field. One of these individuals is Julie Stevens, LCDC, CPS, who is Chairperson of the IC&RC Prevention Committee and the Texas State Liaison for the Southwest Prevention Center, University of Oklahoma.
Sandra Del Sesto recently interviewed our colleague for IC&RC Insights – here is the result of that conversation:
SDS: How long have you been working in prevention?
I began working in the substance abuse field in the prison in Huntsville, TX in 1984. I became a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in 1987, but began working on the prevention side in 1989.
SDS: How long have you been certified?
I grandfathered in to the CPS when it was first offered in Texas in 1997.
SDS: What got you into prevention work in the first place?
I received my undergraduate degree in psychology from Baylor University. While staying home with my young children, I decided to do some volunteer work at the local women’s shelter. Alcohol was a significant contributor to the abuse that these women suffered. So I went to work in the prison alcohol and drug program and became a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. It was apparent that one-on-one therapy was not my “gift.”
When I was promoted to Director of Prevention at the Tarrant Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Fort Worth, I realized that I had found my niche. I enjoyed the training, advocacy and networking that came along with the job. I later became Executive Director of Tarrant County Challenge, a unique organization whose function was to advocate for substance abuse services in the county. I left that position to move to Austin to take the position of Director of Prevention for Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
SDS: Over the years what do you see as the most important trends in our field?
Our field has come a long way. We now have research that tells us what is effective and what is not. We have data that guides our planning processes. As the budgets for prevention and other behavioral health services tighten, the science of prevention is more and more critical.
We also face a mounting movement to legalize drugs. I believe that this threat will make our jobs even more difficult and frustrating. We must show that our prevention strategies work and that investing in prevention will save us dollars and lives in the long run.
SDS: What is the status of prevention and prevention certification in your state? Mandated, recommended, how many certified?
Prevention funding in Texas is always an issue. Texas has many challenges, including education, transportation, and health services. Our main funding stream for prevention is the 20% set-aside from the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant. The single state agency in Texas is the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). DSHS requires that program directors of prevention programs funded by SAPT block grant monies must be Certified Prevention Specialists. Other preventionists are encouraged to be certified. The Texas Certification Board of Addictions Professionals has created two credentials to complement the reciprocal CPS, the CPS Intern and the Advanced CPS. We are hoping to engage budding preventionists in a career path that rewards them for their experience and education. There are approximately 225 CPSs in Texas.
SDS: Why do you believe that prevention certification is important?
Prevention certification serves as a vehicle to ensure prevention specialists have certain standard competencies determined by the field. Certification not only protects the public, but it also ensures that effective practices are being utilized that maximize and leverage the sparse funding that prevention has to work with.
SDS: Why did you decide to become involved in IC&RC?
I became involved with the Texas Certification Board of Addictions Professionals when I met Jennifer Carr, who was the prevention representative for TCBAP. Even though I had grandfathered into the CPS, I decided to take the exam to see what was involved and if I could pass it. I had been doing training to prepare preventionists for the exam, so I wanted to know what the exam entailed. After the exam, I met Jennifer, who was conducting a survey of the people who had taken the CPS exam to see where they had gotten their training. I met with Jennifer a few times to discuss the education and preparation needed for the exam. I was invited to the item-writing session and began attending IC&RC meetings with the other Texas Representatives. Soon Jennifer resigned, so I was designated as her replacement. I was also elected to the TCBAP shortly afterward, and have served since 2006. I was instrumental in the development of the CPS Intern and Advanced CPS for Texas. I was awarded the 2009 Terry Hale Addictions Professional of the Year by the Texas Association of Addictions Professionals. This is significant since most of the members are treatment counselors.
SDS: As Prevention Chair of IC&RC, what do you see as your role?
I see my role as the facilitator of the prevention representatives for all the IC&RC member jurisdictions. I believe that there is a lot of collective wisdom and commitment by these people, and it is my honor to bring them together to do what is best for the public and the field.
SDS: Now tell us a little bit about yourself personally. What do you like to do during your free time?
During my free time, I enjoy traveling to Berlin to see my son and his wife and my two grandsons. My son, Jeff, is a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. I have a grandson, Cole, who is four, and a grandson, Lane, who is two. I have visited Berlin five or six times since they moved there in 2006.
Last August I had the opportunity to meet Jeff and his family in Paris for a vacation. Jeff had a conference in Rennes, so we went to France a few days early and visited Paris, Bayeaux, the beaches at Normandy, Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverney, as well as Rennes.
I also have a son, Adam, who is a DEA special agent. For Christmas we all decided to take a “destination holiday,” and we met in Athens, Greece. We spent several days in Athens and Delphi, and then went to the island of Santorini for the rest of the trip. I enjoy being with my sons and their wives and families in these fabulous places. My son Adam will be transferred to Lima, Peru next year, so I am looking forward to traveling to South America next.
Additional questions or comments for Ms. Stevens can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.