Joe Krohn, LADC
As a general manager of a hotel, Joe Krohn met a lot of people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. For years, he thrived on these types of connections.
During the pandemic in 2020, he worked long days at the hotel and began to see a side of society that he hadn’t really been exposed to before. “That is, substance use, homelessness, and mental health—people needing care and unable to obtain it,” he recalls.
“My work in the hotel industry did not allow me to provide the level of support that I wanted to. It did not allow me to make a difference in the lives of those that need it most.”
Joe decided to pivot and return to graduate school sooner than expected. He was looking for a pathway to “a more fulfilling and meaningful role,” where he could help people who had slipped through the cracks.
“I remember thinking the (IBH) program was a perfect fit for what I was looking for.”
Finding His Way
Joe’s path to the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) program was not a straight line. He stopped and started his undergraduate degree twice before finally earning a BS in Psychology. “It has not been a perfect journey,” he says, “though I have come to learn that it does not need to be perfect. It just needed to be a journey that I wanted to be on.”
Years ago, Joe faced his own mental health challenges and feels “immensely grateful” that he was able to pull himself out of the darkness.
“I felt like I had nobody to reach out to, nothing to live for,” he says about that time. “Later, I learned that I was not alone, that we are never alone.”
Which is what put him on his current trajectory. He says that he is drawn to this work because he doesn’t want anyone else to feel the way he did. “I have worked hard on moving away from a place of judgment and moving towards a place of curiosity, and I will continue to apply this approach as I build my clinical experience.”
Growing up in rural Wisconsin and navigating his own sexuality without a network of support, Joe is committed to helping the LGBTQ+ community. He is also interested in addressing depression and anxiety disorders, along with access to care.
“Being exposed to these disorders has motivated me to want to better understand them and how to support others. Having witnessed the effects of, and not having access to, care, I wish to explore ways to overcome or minimize barriers for others.”
Putting Skills into Practice
Joe currently works as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor (LADC) in a facility that serves the LGBTQ+ population. Early on in this role, he had moments of self-doubt, as the reality of counseling real people sank in. He had done plenty of mock therapy sessions and diagnostic assessments in class, so deep down he knew he was prepared.
“The learning was there,” Joe says. “Getting over the initial anxiety and nerves takes time. I know I have so much more to learn, however, I now embrace these opportunities because each one (allows me) to build upon my existing knowledge, to improve myself, and to continue working towards my goal of helping others.”
Down the road, Joe says, he may want to teach or provide community education. Longer term, he thinks he might start a private practice or establish a nonprofit clinic to support the LGBTQ+ community. He is still debating whether to focus strictly on becoming a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC), apply to a PsyD or PhD program, or maybe even do both.
Whatever Joe chooses, it doesn’t have to be a straight path.
“The faculty in this program have been exceptional. I have never felt judged, less than, incompetent, or that I was inconveniencing someone. I send a HUGE thank you to my advisor, Fiyyaz Karim, who has helped me navigate a journey which sometimes became too overwhelming. I also wish to acknowledge Roy Kammer, Ian McLoone, John Sutherland, Keyur Desai, Ann Ingwalson, Jennifer Weigelt, Tom Hegblom, and Emily Jordan Jensen. You’ve each made such a huge impact on my life and taught me more than you know.”
“The biggest thing that I have learned about is myself. A lot of this program was centered around reflection of self, to conceptualize the world around us, and to understand the clients we will be working with. I have come to realize that to be effective in this field, one must have a solid grasp on who they are and what they bring to a therapeutic relationship. I have learned that we need to understand ourselves and how our experiences have shaped the way we show up in a clinical capacity.”
Three Pieces of Advice for New Students
- Take things slow. “In the beginning of the program I was so focused on getting everything done as quickly as possible. I feel that I sacrificed some learning because I was more focused on the speed versus the journey.”
- Don’t compare yourself to other students. “Near the middle of my program, I started to feel like I did not belong because my background was not in the substance use or mental health fields. When I got into my theories course, I started to realize something: you will certainly have similarities with folks, though you will also develop your own style, interests, and passions.”
- A textbook will never teach you all you need to know. “The instructors and your own clinical and personal experience are key components to growth. Give yourself grace and know that things will change when you are sitting across from your first true client; you can do this.”
Joe is a recipient of a 2023 President's Student Leadership and Service Award. He was also awarded Ingrid Lenz Harrison, Nolte Miller, and Larson Legacy scholarships.
Mia Boos is a writer and content strategist with the College of Continuing and Professional Studies, covering the College’s graduate programs and undergraduate individualized degree programs. She joined the CCAPS Marketing team in 2014 and has worked for Thomson Reuters and New York University. Connect with her via LinkedIn.