Psychology Spotlight: Donna Trujillo AU background

Addiction Treatment and Employment

How Antioch University Los Angeles Helps Students Find their Dream Career After Graduation

Psychotherapists, addictionologists, and sober coaches; oh my! From work within the Malibu rehab system to one-on-one coaching and non-profit recovery management, the variety of jobs from which you can shape a career within the field is vast and varied. After obtaining your bachelor’s degree in addiction studies, so many employment doors open up to you. But where does one begin in building a dream career after graduation?

“Having passion for helping people recover from addiction is the first step,” explains Charley Lang, co-director of the Addiction Studies Concentration of undergraduate studies at Antioch University Los Angeles. “But individualized mentoring is the next phase in turning your education into employment…and that is why we created the new course Addiction Treatment: Domains & Professions – which is unlike anything you’ll find in any other ADS program in Southern California.”

The Psychology Spotlight [PS] sat down with the revolutionary course’s new instructor – licensed marriage and family therapist and addiction specialist Donna Trujillo [DT] – to discuss how this class is pioneering a new approach to finding paid employment within the addiction studies field after students complete their BA degree.

PS: Donna, describe this course to us. What exactly is Addiction Treatment: Domains & Professions all about?

DT: It’s exciting because it’s all about doing something new! This course examines specific opportunities within recovery that provide paying jobs to individuals with a BA degree. These are jobs I never knew existed when I began my work eight years ago, and I wish someone had told me about them. It might have put me on the path to creating my dream career more quickly. I would have had some tools to be more strategic and more intentional.

PS: What are the kinds of jobs a student can eventually take up in this field once they obtain their degree?

DT: Sober companion, interventionist, marketer, web-developer, non-traditional healer, breathworker, acupuncturist, neurofeedback practitioner, nutritional program developer, operations manager – the list goes on and on. In this field, the problem isn’t finding jobs. It’s knowing how to get them – or even create them.  You get the opportunity to craft a career that’s congruent with your passions and values… It’s possible to get creative and that’s really special.

PS: Outside of only finding employment, what else does the course cover?

DT: I am equally proud of the course’s academic content… It stands as an opportunity, not only to explore available work for graduating students, but to take a good look at the intentions and outcomes that we see in addiction treatment currently. We’ve learned a lot about what works over the years, but we’ve also seen things that don’t work. The world is changing right now, and the challenges of our current circumstances also bring about incredible opportunities for innovation… This class inspires students to be creative and bold and to take the next leap into developing new ways to help people heal from addiction.

PS: The addiction and recovery field has often been criticized for lacking ethics. Do you address that?

DT: Oh, yes! In true Antiochian style, the class holds a lot of discussions and debates on this topic specifically. It’s awesome to see the lived-in experiences as well as professional takes on ethical practices… The student discourse and opinions at this college never cease to amaze me – in the best of ways!

PS: You’ve been exposed to courses at addiction studies programs. What makes this one unique?

DT: Depending on the school’s orientation, an academic institution will often only teach theories about work… It’s all about reading texts books and taking tests. But not here! I don’t recall any kind of class in my own education process that asked me to look at work and engage in a critical thinking process about what that work means to me personally and to the world at large. That’s really different…and that’s what Antioch is all about.

PS: While professors at other colleges might spend an entire session lecturing off a PowerPoint, you instead choose to do hands-on activities, virtual field trips, and bring in guest speakers. The course is so interactive. Why did you take this approach?

DT: This is a class about preparing students to work. What better way to do that than to expose students to potential future colleagues and to initiate relationships with those professionals?

PS: Give us some examples of who you have coming in?

DT: Our speakers this quarter include Brad Lamm, who is the Founder of Breathe Life Healing Centers and the author of multiple books and the producer of documentaries about addiction; Crystal Brandon, whose titles include Managing Director at Evolve Treatment and Nathaniel Hodder-Shipp, creator of Breathwork for Life. They are a diverse bunch but they have one thing in common: they all believe that ethical treatment is more important than the bottom line and that good treatment is good business.

PS: Now that the class has been running for a month, what surprises/shocks/excites you most?

DT: The students are the most exciting! In as little as four weeks, some are already interning or getting paid to work in the field… They make me hopeful about the future of addiction treatment.

Student Sarahjean Duprey contributes to our interview, stating: “After getting sober, it was clear to me that working in recovery would be a better career path for me. Yet when I began this course, I had just quit my job as a behavioral technician after only four months… The class has taught me about many other areas of treatment that may be a better fit for me, as well as presented the options of starting my own treatment business. The knowledge I’ve obtained in the class has brought me back around to wanting to work in treatment again.”

While enrollment has closed for this year’s course, Addiction Treatment: Domains & Professions is set to return to AULA’s Addiction Studies schedule in the summer of 2021. Applications for new students who seek to enroll in the program are currently being accepted.

To learn more about enrolling in AULA’s addiction studies concentration visit here.