“My career has been full of ups and downs,” says Jon Engfer. After earning an undergraduate degree in marketing management, Engfer was a successful director of sales for a printing company, a product brand builder and trend merchandiser, then a general contractor in property restoration. And he also played professional hockey for two years with the New York Islander affiliate Tallahassee Tigersharks.
But for over 15 years, he struggled with addiction. Now, as a recovery counselor coach at Time to Change? LLC, MPS in Addictions Counseling (ADDC) alumnus Engfer has found a role that allows him to support others while remaining focused on his own sobriety.
The First Step
“At one point, everything that meant anything to me was gone,” Engfer says. “I understand the affliction and pain of damaged trust, financial difficulties, personal shame, traumatic experiences, and legal consequences.”
His personal journey informs how he relates to his clients. He tries to help his clients improve their lives “by promoting self-worth, identifying values, finding meaning, and strengthening purpose.”
Years ago, before Engfer’s dad unexpectedly passed away, he asked him for advice on how to get his life back on track. His father told him to go “all in.” Engfer knew that he had to “make things right” with his family and his community.
“From that moment, I have never looked back, and that is a big reason why I am where I am today. I made a decision to become a part of the recovery solution and overcome my own past… so I applied to the University of Minnesota’s Master’s of Addictions Counseling program.”
Engfer did not take the opportunity lightly. Guided by his devotion to his family and his faith, he worked hard to excel in the program. The “extremely strong professional development curriculum” challenged his thought processes and understanding of behavioral modifications.
The program, he continues, emphasizes the importance of using “appropriate language, removing labels, increasing integrity, measuring intentions, and promoting personal value and self-worth.”
"Thank you, University of Minnesota, for giving me an opportunity to honor my agreements..."
As a result, he has learned how to “establish healthier interactions with all populations” and is more aware of his own personal biases. He also takes more responsibility for his own thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. This applies to his behavior in the classroom, the clinic, and in life.
Engfer also credits his advisor, Debra Wamsley, for making him stronger personally and academically, to “persevere in the struggles, develop authentic connections, stay positive, keep a progressive attitude, and become a leader.”
Living with Intent
During the stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Engfer continues to see clients at Time to Change? LLC using safe distancing practices and offering phone support when needed. He encourages people to lead healthier lives by focusing on what is right, not wrong, with them.
“Let’s stop talking about where you have been,” he says, “and start talking about where you are going and what you are willing to do to get there. I have always believed in the best of myself and in the best of others.”
Engfer knows that recovery is not easy. He stays motivated by a deep sense of honor and humility. “I have an amazing family who never stopped believing in me and never gave up on me despite all that I put them through. I want to personally thank my mom, who never quit when so many people would have.”
Today, Engfer is an LADC (licensed alcohol and drug counselor), recovery coach, and certified peer recovery specialist. He has also received National Provider Identification for substance use disorders.
“I am living proof that it is never too late to find yourself and become the person you want to be. Thank you, University of Minnesota, for giving me an opportunity to honor my agreements, achieve my commitments, and represent life in a worthy manner.”