Hilary Sickles is a clinical supervisor at Rural Women’s Recovery Program where she provides substance use and mental health counseling services, as well as clinical guidance to staff members in a residential setting. She is an alumna of the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) and received her M.Ed. in 2020 from Ohio University.
Hilary was drawn to the MFP because she saw a need in her own community. She stated, “I saw the need for addiction services in the rural county that I live in. There were some services in place at the time, though it just seemed to be lacking something. This fueled my desire to learn and grow professionally.” During a time when she was struggling through her master’s degree program, one of her professors shared the fellowship opportunity with her cohort. This was just the inspiration she needed to feel reinvigorated in her career.
Hilary initially envisioned herself as a therapist serving minority populations, more specifically LGBTQ+ populations with co-occurring disorders, but her participation in the NBCC MFP gave her the confidence to strive for more. She shared, “I do not believe that I would have the courage or confidence to strive for a supervisory role in counseling if I had not participated in the Minority Fellowship Program. I am now a substance abuse supervisor at a local clinic. I have learned far beyond what my degree program has offered and for that I am most grateful.”
Participating in the MFP afforded Hilary opportunities to build her professional network. She shared that the MFP provided her with the support she needed to avoid burn out, saying “The MFP helped me learn how to network and encouraged me to seek out other professionals to build a support network. This has benefited me by increasing job opportunities and assisted me with not feeling alone in the struggles of being a helping professional.” She also shared, “The mentorship I received really helped me grow personally and professionally in the sense that I have gone outside of my comfort zone in sharing my experience with vicarious trauma when necessary, which really helps with burnout at the end of the day.”
When asked what career building advice she would offer to the current MFP fellows, Hilary says, “Never stop learning, reach for the stars, reach out to others when you are stressed and network, network, network!" And for anyone thinking of applying she says, “I almost didn’t apply, because I thought others deserved it more than me. But you are, worthy! Apply, because you deserve it!”
Ms. Sickles shared her appreciation to NBCC and the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) for the very helpful trainings and resources they provided and for how well they handled the MFP during the pandemic. In closing she shared, “Thank you [MFP] for taking the initiative to continue to help not only professionals in the field but for helping communities and families across the U.S.”