From "Why Me?" to Studying Addiction Counseling

Spotlight on Students

Through its accredited degree programs, the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies (HBFGSAS) provides an exceptional educational experience for students. Some students have followed unique or incredibly interesting paths to reach this point in their lives. This is one in a series of conversations with several of these addiction counseling students.

Dr. Lucy StandishAfter a series of twists and turns in her career path, Dr. Lucy Standish is enjoying her new role as a student at the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies.

Her unique career path began after her graduation from college. After working in her chosen field for five years, she decided to shift her career choice and go back to medical school. Upon receiving her medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and completing her residency in pediatrics in Denver, Colorado, she returned to practice in a pediatrics clinic in Minneapolis. She worked as a pediatrician for several years before taking time off for the birth of her first child.

When her youngest was 2 years old, Lucy was diagnosed with breast cancer - she survived and recently celebrated 10 years cancer free. After her cancer treatment, she planned to return to her work; however, her parents became sick and needed extra care. She took her parents through their final years until their deaths about 5 years ago.

"I think that in the long run things happen for a reason," said Lucy. "When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42, my thoughts were all focused on 'Why me?' But I came out of that experience with such an appreciation for life and a thankfulness for all the opportunities I've been given."

And she was faced with a new challenge. Born into a family with a history of advocacy in the area of addiction and recovery—her uncle, Wheelock Whitney, was the visionary behind Freedom Fest, a spectacular recovery event started in the Twin Cities in 1976 - Lucy recognized the signs early when addiction occurred in her own life. She went through treatment and continues her recovery journey today.

"The passion of my family for recovery has seeped into my world as well," said Lucy. "After going through treatment and getting healthy, I decided I wanted to make a contribution in a different way than just looking in ears and noses. Through a lot of soul searching, I found I was passionate about my own recovery, as well as about addicted adolescents and their recovery, and that was the twist I needed to move in a new direction."

Lucy is enrolled in the master's degree in Addiction Counseling: Advanced Practice and is slated to graduate in August 2016. She recently completed her clinical practicum at Hazelden in Plymouth and thoroughly enjoyed helping the adolescents and young adults in that facility.

"It's such a great population to work with, and I'm very endeared to that group because of the four adolescents in my own home," said Lucy.

She looks at this time as an extraordinary opportunity to learn, enrich people's lives and give back.

"In approaching graduate school, my focus is on how I can combine my medical degree, my respect for recovery and my desire to make a difference," said Lucy. "My dream job would be to counsel adolescents and manage their medication in either a residential inpatient or outpatient setting. However, at this point in my life, I'm much less concerned with planning things out or planning for a job. I'm just taking each day and believing that the right doors will open."

For most days, it's a balancing act with studies and being immersed in family commitments. In addition to schoolwork for both her and her children, the family loves to travel and enjoys a wide variety of activities including skiing, music, photography and being outdoors.

"Going through my own recovery and pursuing this education has done a lot for the closeness of my family - especially in being able to talk with them about addiction and experimentation," said Lucy. "And being in school has been fun as well as a blessing. I remember an evening last fall when my two high school students were in the middle of their final exams, and they wanted to study with me. A precious memory for me is sitting with my son on the porch, and we are both studying for our finals."

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