Alumna expands counseling practice to meet community needs
Emily Sussman wanted to follow her passion to help people, though initially, she didn’t know how she could do that. She needed to help herself first, but deep down she knew it was her calling.
She found her way to helping through her social work degree from IU South Bend. Sussman is now a licensed clinical social worker and therapist with her own practice, Freedom Recovery Group of South Bend.
“I was 33 when I enrolled at IU South Bend. In my 20s I had drug and alcohol issues. Even then, I had this feeling that I was supposed to help people. I had to help myself first.”
Sussman did her research into the IU South Bend curriculum and entered the program. “I was focused from day one. I wanted to be an addiction therapist. I loved every class. It was easy to write papers and research because that was my concentration.”
She had an internship at Oaklawn, graduated with a masters in social work in 2016, and worked at the Center for Positive Change in South Bend with intensive outpatient counseling. In 2019, she started Freedom Recovery. Tenures at Oaklawn and Positive Change both reinforced her desire to work with groups therapy for drug or alcohol abuse and compulsive gambling or sexual behavior.
Opening a practice on her own was a challenge. “Women are hard wired to second guess themselves. Should I do this? Should I talk to a consultant? My best suggestion is that women should trust their intuition. Follow their passion. Believe in their abilities.”
Sussman was drawn to the group practice setting. “I love working with groups. It is important to form strong interpersonal relationships. Trust, honesty, and respect are developed with groups,” she said.
The practice has taken on a few more dimensions with social distancing and restrictions. Sussman began doing addiction group sessions online last March. “It is testament to the strengths of the groups. The members login and pay attention. They have been engaged.”
She has expanded her reach with a podcast and a book she is currently editing, both called “The Addict’s Guide to the Universe: A Roadmap to Recovery.” Sussman said her motto is “Come one, come all. So many are in pain from addictions. There is help. My agenda is to help as many as I can.”
Her podcast, which is available on Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple podcasts, has reached people around the country and in Europe. She’s received emails testimonials from near and far about how the podcasts have aided in addiction recovery.
As a therapist or a recovery coach, Sussman sees many opportunities to help, and she is doing what she was meant to do – helping others.