First things first, could we get your name, job title, and academic qualifications?
My name is Cassidy Conway and I am a Primary Therapist at Green Hill Recovery working in both with our Transitional Living and the Community Outpatient Programs. I have a Masters in Counseling, am a National Certified Counselor, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Associate, and a Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist Associate.
Could we get some brief biographical info from you? Hometown, previous experience, education, etc.?
I am originally from Wilmington, Delaware, directly outside of Philadelphia. I grew up with my parents and younger brother and I attended Drexel University for my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Behavioral Health Counseling. Ever since high school I knew I wanted to be in the helping field, and my co-ops (internships) gave me the opportunity to explore what I really wanted to do with my career.
Initially I worked in sports psychology with youth developmental teams for the Philadelphia Union and helped uninsured hospital clients apply and receive Medicaid. While working in the hospital, I witnessed horrendous treatment of individuals seeking help for their substance use and/or medical complications. I immediately saw the need for substance use counselors specifically and better patient advocates for those on their recovery journey generally. I began taking courses in substance use, joined a co-op where I facilitated transition into a residential treatment facility and the rest is history! My personal experience with loved ones drew me to working in the mental health field.
I took a leap of faith and came down to North Carolina to pursue my Master’s program at University of North Carolina, Charlotte. There I completed two internships, one with veterans and military families and the second with men who experienced homelessness. I also worked for three years at UNC-Charlotte’s Collegiate Recovery program. This experience shaped me as a professional and increased my desire to work with young people. I especially enjoyed how my role created an opportunity to educate the community and provide settings in which students could have fun in recovery.
What’s the most satisfying part of facilitating a group therapy session?
Personally, I love what the community members bring into a group session. Their insight, intelligence, humor, kindness, and love towards one another is incredibly powerful. They are the life and heart of the group.
What do you believe makes the Green Hill Community Outpatient Program stand out in its field, and why?
Our Community Outpatient Program stands out in so many ways to me, although I’ll admit I am a little biased! Ultimately, we are a realistic and honest program, in the sense that we are understanding of the challenges faced by our community and don’t set unrealistic expectations for our members. By setting realistic goals, we encourage our group to have fun together.
We are a young community, and so offering fun and engaging activities is critical for our members. We are honored to be able to offer this as a component of our programming and that is where I see us really standing out in recovery services.
When you’re not at work, what do you do to recharge your batteries?
I have a routine self care practice to help recharge my batteries. That includes spending some time outside, practicing yoga, and enjoying some crappy reality TV. In addition, I am a huge Eagles fan, so during the fall I am always watching football. During the off season I enjoy watching Carolina basketball and the Carolina Hurricanes.
What made you want to work in a) the clinical field generally and b) substance abuse specifically?
During my high school years mental health issues were prevalent with my peers and in my family, but it was very rarely talked about or addressed directly. Our culture and the stigma associated with mental illness would sweep it under the rug. I always found myself being a listening ear or support and recognized it was a vocation I wanted to pursue. It wasn’t until my experience working in a hospital that I knew how important it was for me to pair my passion for counseling with both mental health and substance use. I was grateful Drexel had a program with robust courses specific to substance use counseling. I then completed an internship with a residential program that really reinforced for me how much I loved the people and the work.
What’s one memory you’ll always take with you from your time here in Green Hill?
One memory I will always take from Green Hill is the love and genuine kindness within the staff. All our staff meetings are so much fun to be a part of because each member is valued and appreciated for their role, and that’s something you can really feel. The fun we all have together is amazing.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? How has that advice affected your day-to-day?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received may sound a bit unusual, but it has stuck with me over the years. During our first day of class, one professor told us “you are a part of the problem, be aware of that,” and it totally took us aback. This has affected my day-to-day because it reminds me that personal growth should never end. I explore my biases, enter into difficult conversations, and continue to be a forever student of life.
What does your ideal day look like?
My ideal day would be spending time on the beach getting lost in a book, followed by spending time with family and having a meal together. Then when it is not too hot or cold out, setting up a bonfire and continuing to spend time with the people I love!
What’s one message you wish our community program participants at Green Hill would always take with them?
“Find the beauty in each day.” We so often get caught up in the past and worry about the future that it can be difficult to be in the moment, especially during early recovery. Finding the beauty in each day could be something beautiful we see, hear, achieve, and so much more. Each day is a gift and I am grateful and honored to spend my time and days with our community members and Green Hill staff.
Quick Facts about Cassidy
Undergraduate: Drexel University
Graduate school: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Desert Island movie: Mrs. Doubtfire
Book: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Album: Beyonce – Beyonce.
Favorite color: Green
Top Karaoke Song Choice: Mr. Brightside by The Killers
Ideal lunch: Poke
Favorite spot to visit in Raleigh: All the local trails and parks
Favorite meal: Burgers and Fries (I love trying burgers with unique toppings)
Dream job as a child: Veterinarian