Caryn White has never been one to back away from something that confuses her. In fact, she said, the most puzzling days are the ones that keep her getting out of bed in the morning.
Fortunately, in her job as clinical director of mental health at Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions, there is ample opportunity for puzzling days.
“Before I leave for work, I believe that I’m probably going to experience something that is going to stump me for the day,” she said. “But I really enjoy the challenge of coming up with solutions when there is a problem. I’m motivated by that.”
Mrs. White, 38, has worked at Credo for about seven years. She moved to the north country in 2000 with her husband, Chad, who was a Fort Drum soldier at the time. When her husband became a civilian in 2001, the couple decided the Watertown area was a good place to stay and raise a family.
“Both of us saw this area as a smaller area than we grew up in,” she said. “We enjoyed the small town feel of the north country. It’s been 15 years now that I’ve lived here and I would say that it has felt like home for a majority of that.”
After working for several years at Transitional Living Services, Mrs. White quickly climbed the ladder at Credo, from direct care provider to her current position. She credits her colleagues, bosses and family for her success.
She is also thankful to Credo and the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization for assisting her with student loan forgiveness when she was first licensed in social work. She believes this incentive, paired with the charm of the community and its residents are keys to recruiting and retaining young professionals.
“I’ve always felt this community was very welcome and very kind,” she said. “I’ve always had supervisors who were very supportive. That’s really encouraging when you’re young and don’t know quite what you want to do in your career.”
Today, as clinical director, Mrs. White supervises licensed staff, including mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. She also provides administrative oversight and develops clinical programming while carrying her own caseload as a therapist.
She said she enjoys teaching and supervising her staff; in fact, several colleagues are currently relying on her for guidance as they work to earn their licenses in social work. She also gets satisfaction from helping her patients.
“I like building the relationships with patients and providing treatment and seeing them improve,” Mrs. White said. “It’s a hard job, but it can be rewarding. As a therapist, you’re always learning.”
Naturally, some days on the job are harder than others, she said.
“One of the most challenging parts is to work with someone that is not quite ready to get well,” she said. “You might feel like you’re at a point where you’re ready to help them, but they just aren’t ready. You put in your best effort for everyone, knowing that there are people who you will never know if they reached their goals.”
For Mrs. White, who thrives on finding solutions to everyday problems, instances like this can be tough to overcome. However, she said, her perseverance stems from the unwavering support of her family.
“It requires dedication, and my family is extremely supportive of me,” she said. “My husband is the reason that I am successful. He has said all along that he is supportive of me doing what makes me happy.”
As a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Mrs. White was integral in starting Credo’s Mental Health Clinic in April 2014. She is now leading an initiative to strengthen ties between substance abuse and mental health services in the community.
— Eli Anderson