Meet Jennifer Mathison.

Registered Clinical Counsellor - Addictions

Surrey, BC

What inspired you to enter and pursue this field?

Addictions Counselling has provided me with so many opportunities for growth as a therapist. The clients come from all walks of life, from every culture, usually from backgrounds where they have survived trauma and/or some degree of mental illness. I had no idea that I would be capable of helping so many people in such challenging situations, but you learn as you go, with experience, team collaboration, professional development and training. Ultimately, our clients teach us how to help them and with each individual, it's always something new and it never gets old.


How did you come to be in this position?

My original goal was college counselling, but I needed experience to get accepted into a Master's program in Counselling Psychology, which was the minimal requirement for that career. I ended up working with adolescents in an institutional psychiatric setting - the toughest job I ever had, but it got me into UBC's MA program. I continued in that job right through grad school, and then a co-worker told me about an Addictions Counsellor position that had appeared in the postings. So I was able to transfer into that position and have enjoyed it so much that I've been at it for 30 years - never even bothered to apply for the college job!


What advice would you give young women looking to enter your current line of work?

Make sure you do your research about where you'd like to study, especially in terms of entrance requirements, program/course options and quality. Especially when it comes to university programs, you want to be certain that what you end up taking lines up with the requirements of the career that you want (btw - not all who work in addictions have to have degrees, depending on the position). Many programs will ask that you have some work or volunteer experience -- it pays to do some information interviews with those who have taken the path you are considering and find out how they found their way.


Empathy is the stance and instrument of every good counsellor. Some may be natural "empaths", but happily, it can also be learned. Check out the readings of Gerald Egan, Insoo Kim Berg, Brene Brown, and Scott Miller to name a few. If you'd like to chat about counselling as a wonderful career option, feel free to drop me a line!