Claire Cebrij wasn’t sure she wanted a career in addiction counseling until she learned about Chicago’s Haymarket Center, a not-for-profit treatment center for substance abuse and dependency.
Last summer Cebrij, a senior psychology major, attended the Haymarket Center’s Summer Institute on Addiction at Elmhurst College, an annual series of workshops and seminars for professionals in the field. What she learned there deepened her interest in helping people overcome addiction.
“I was so impressed with what I saw at the conference,” said Cebrij, who attended sessions on a diverse range of topics, including media influences on addiction and addiction among gang members. “I had an interest in addiction counseling, and the conference confirmed for me that I was headed in the right direction.”
Now, thanks to the Haymarket Center, Cebrij is continuing to pursue her interest. She has taken on a Spring Term internship at Haymarket, sitting in on group and individual counseling sessions and interacting with Haymarket counselors and their clients. She participates weekly in a group run by a Haymarket Center counselor for incarcerated pregnant women who are overcoming substance abuse and addiction.
Cebrij said that her internship and her experience at the Summer Institute have given her valuable insight into the work that addiction counselors do.
“I’ve been able to talk to so many people in the field and learn about all the different professional routes you can take,” she said. “I’ve become more educated about the field, and that has helped me see what kind of role I can play.”
Cebrij’s interest in the field grew out of a class in abnormal psychology she took at Palatine’s Harper College, which she attended before transferring to Elmhurst.
“I’ve always wanted to do work that would help people, and this seemed like a field where I could help,” she said. “I’ve never had any personal experience with addiction; no one close to me has ever had to deal with it. But I know there is such a stigma about the problem and so many misconceptions. That’s one reason I’m so passionate about this work. I’d like to help change that.”
Cebrij worked with Holly Coffin, internship coordinator of Elmhurst’s Center for Professional Excellence, and Mick Savage, the director of the College’s Service-Learning Program, to apply for the internship. After meeting with Dan Lustig, Haymarket’s vice president of clinical services, Cebrij said she was relieved to learn that he had become interested in the field in much the same way she had.
“It reassured me that we had that bit of a connection, and I know that he has certainly been able to help people,” she said.
Haymarket Center, founded in 1975, is the largest not-for-profit adult detoxification and substance abuse treatment facility in Chicago. In addition to its facility on Chicago’s Near West Side, it has four other Chicago-area locations. It serves more than 18,000 clients each year.
Cebrij’s internship is part of a burgeoning partnership between Elmhurst and the Haymarket Center. Each year the College hosts the Haymarket Center’s Summer Institute on Addiction; this year, its 20th anniversary, the institute runs June 9 to 11. Lee Daniels, a distinguished fellow in Elmhurst’s Department of Political Science and special assistant to the president for government and community relations, serves on the Haymarket Center’s board.
Cebrij said the work she is observing at Haymarket Center has inspired her to pursue a career in the field. After graduation, she plans to apply to graduate programs in psychology or seek certification as a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor.
“This experience has really encouraged me to follow my passion,” she said. “I’m so glad I was given this opportunity.”