“Early on in life I entered the classroom open, engaged, and curious. This degree offered courses that challenged me to question what I believed about myself, others, and how I see the world.”
Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) December 2016 graduate Jillian Wright-Martin is no stranger to a challenge. As a research study coordinator at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, she coordinated efforts to study treatments for post-traumatic stress and substance use disorders and their affect on veterans and their families before, during, and after deployment.
“In times of fatigue, self-doubt, or uncertainty, this sense of purpose carries me through and reinvigorates me to keep learning, working, and serving.”
She also received certification in prolonged exposure therapy (PE) through the IBH program from Dr. R. John Sutherland, one of the few certified PE trainers in the state of Minnesota.
Recently, Wright-Martin took that expert training and experience with complex mental health issues to North Memorial Medical Center where she is a full-time psychotherapist, serving those with both mental and chemical health challenges.
Addressing a Need
“I came to the IBH program with a strong sense that to provide clients with better care, I would need to be prepared to address more than mental health symptoms or problems arising from drug or alcohol use.”
“Rates of co-occurring disorders are sadly too high,” Wright-Martin says. “Treatment modalities for either of these issues are largely being developed, taught, and delivered in isolation from one another. The integration of mental and chemical health training in the IBH program made perfect sense to me.”
A self-proclaimed “die-hard student,” Wright-Martin found the courses that resonated with her the most provided “insight into how life looks and feels to those from diverse backgrounds and circumstances,” as well as opportunities to see theory applied in clinical settings.
In her work at North Memorial, she uses the evidence-based treatments she learned in class to address a variety of diagnoses and problems, with a focus on trauma-related difficulties.
“I’m part of a multidisciplinary team leading efforts to develop a regional center providing cutting-edge, integrated treatment for those with trauma-related difficulties that, until now, is not readily available outside a Veterans Affairs setting.”
Fulfilling a Duty
Wright-Martin’s desire to help people stems from a background rooted in a strong faith in humanity. “My upbringing and education in Catholic institutions founded on principles of compassion, service, and justice contribute to my drive to help others realize their innate goodness, possibility, and strength.”
“I believe that with the privileges I've been afforded, I am obligated to serve others, and this is the way I have felt called to most profoundly,” says Wright-Martin about her career in counseling.
This personal mission aligns with broader conversations taking place in institutions and government regarding mental and chemical health treatment innovation, funding, and policy.
“I look forward to expanding my skill set to include advocacy to effect change in the laws and regulations that affect those I serve.”
- Multicultural Foundations of Behavioral Health: "I learned a great deal about important topics like white privilege, systemic oppression, microaggressions, and ways counseling professionals can counteract their effects."
- Relapse Prevention, Risk Reduction, and Recovery Maintenance: "I discovered the world of person-centered, evidence-based treatments for people struggling with substance use disorders delivered with empathy and compassion."
- Advanced Group Practice: "I was thrown into the deep end of co-facilitating a mental and chemical health psychotherapy group… and found I was more capable than I thought."
- Clinical Application in Prolonged Exposure Therapy: "For the first time, I experienced the life-restoring impact effective, evidence-based treatment can have on an individual."
Jillian Wright-Martin is the recipient of the Ingrid Lenz Harrison and Ceil T. Victor scholarships. She is now research coordinator at the Minnesota Center for Chemical and Mental Health (MNCAMH).