With addiction rates at record highs, the need for caring and competent mental health counselors is greater than ever. For Caitlin Mede (MS/MHC ’19), selecting mental health counseling as a career felt like a natural fit; she says she strives to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, and has aligned her personal values with her professional experience to cultivate a career that reflects her life’s mission.
“I have faced challenges with mental health and addiction within my own family. I always knew I wanted to give back to that population.” said Ms. Mede.
As an undergraduate in Temple University’s psychology program, she took part in a program called Inside/Out, which brings college students inside Graterford State Prison to learn alongside incarcerated students.
“This was an eye-opening and inspiring experience for me,” says Ms. Mede. We explored addiction in urban populations and how it correlates to the prison community. It shifted how I viewed addiction and prompted me to explore a career in addiction counseling.”
She ultimately chose PCOM to pursue her masters in mental health counseling—with a focus on addictions and offenders counseling. Her decision to come to PCOM was solidified after working in a research lab where Elizabeth Gosch, PhD, ABPP, chair, counseling, was conducting research. “Working in the same lab gave us common ground and I appreciated the research she was doing, I felt like PCOM was the perfect fit for me,” said Ms. Mede.
In addition to her studies, Ms. Mede has volunteered with organizations in the Philadelphia area that serve those impacted by addiction. At the height of the heroin epidemic, Ms. Mede volunteered at Prevention Point, an organization that aims to reduce the harm associated with drug use. She was actively involved in their needle exchange program.
After graduation, Ms. Mede will begin her role as a counselor in the drug and alcohol outpatient program at CORA Services, an organization in Northeast Philadelphia that specializes in counseling families that are facing the disease of addiction.
She says that in order to be truly successful in behavioral health, “It is important to remain empathetic towards their patients and to fight the stigma of addiction. You will face a variety of situations and it’s important to always be advocating for your patients—even those who may not want to receive treatment. When faced with this, it’s important to be confident in your professional abilities and remain focused on the betterment of every patient.”
Beyond her professional life, Ms. Mede is a vegan and advocates for animal welfare. She also enjoys hula hooping, yoga, traveling and spending time with her dog, Luna.