Last week, I sat down with Dr. Jim Jeffreys, professor of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling course at Saint Rose. Jim Jeffreys has a Masters in Social Work and a PhD in Social Welfare from the State University at Albany. He is a Licensed Certified Social Worker in New York State. He is currently the Clinical Director of Hospitality House, a residential treatment program for addicts.
While an adjunct instructor at Saint Rose, Jim has taught Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling, Drug Use and Abuse, the State Education Department required Substance Abuse Workshop, provided training in alcohol and substance abuse prevention for Saint Rose Resident Assistants, and is a Field Instructor. Jim has served on the Board of Directors for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and the Capital District Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime and is a member of the Capital District Regional College Consortium on Alcohol and Other Drugs.
How did you get into Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling?
I went to Geneseo State. There, you were allowed to take courses and get A’s if you volunteered. It was a program they had. I began in the community psychology program . When I found out that you could volunteer at the suicide hotlines and get an A without books, tests, or class, I opted for that. I went to the Alive Center, the next year I got two A’s for running the Alive Center, then the following year I got 3 A’s for running the volunteer center for over 100 people. I got the bug for human services, social work, that kind of thing. Then I went to SUNY and did an internship at Hope House. When I was there in 1980, I was the only one on staff who never used heroine. I learned to get a gut, they had me hold all the money, so I had a niche. I was the one that helped people get into college.
What came out of working at Saint Rose? How did you make the course more experiential?
I was challenged by Claudia Lingertat-Putnam and Mike Bologna. They asked me to teach the Chemical Dependency Course and after the first semester they came to Hospitality House for a tour and asked, “how can we make the course more experiential?” It’s a three year course, with a lot of book learning, with an internship closer to graduation. The challenge was to get more experiential early on before students got to their internship component. What they found were a lot of people coming into the program that hadn’t had much experience in human services.
So what we worked out was that I would do two things simultaneously. I would encourage people if they wanted to get an “A” that they would have to go to either an AA meeting or an NA meeting and then they would write a paper about it. When my students go, I tell them that they have to be either very honest or very quiet. You can go into a meeting and say that you are just there to listen and no one will give you pressure. Or you can go in and say you’re a student. Some people might embrace you, some might ignore you, and then there are the old timers who will say “Hmmph”. But it’s an open meeting so that’s what they’re there for: People can come in and learn more about AA.
The reason I do that is because when you refer someone to AA, you will be able to say, “I know what it’s like” or “I know how hard it is”. A lot of the paper contains your own feelings. You feel uncomfortable? Well, yeah. Now you know how they feel.
The second way, is that the students come to the Hospitality House for half a day. They get a tour by a client in the all-male program.