About Clayton Goldberg, LCDC
Growing up, I wanted to be an entertainer. Surrounded by successful parents and some siblings struggling with addiction and all the attention that can go with that, I decided that I wanted to be seen and acknowledged by others too. Being an entertainer seemed to fit that bill.
Today, I can clearly see that was the start of pretending to be someone and something that I wasn’t. I struggled with messages such as, “I’m not good enough,” and “Who I am is wrong.” It was only a matter of time before the weight of those messages led to developing a substance use disorder myself. I spiraled into addiction, depression and isolation rapidly.
In all honesty, I was spoiled as a child. That, coupled with grappling with the progressive dis-ease of addiction, didn’t set me up well to be self-sufficient as a young adult, and “adult life” quickly caught up with me.
It was only after years of fighting the addiction and the internal and external chaos that comes with it that I was finally ready to accept help. A counselor and long-time mentor sat with me for hours. He gifted me the space to be authentic for the first time in years and made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. It was then that I first realized I wanted to show that same type of trust, curiosity and empathy toward others and become a substance abuse counselor myself.
I began my work with adult males in a long-term residential treatment center. Many of the men I worked with were homeless, estranged from their families and consumed with shame. I could personally relate to their feelings of shame and the other painful emotions that come through addiction. Working with them allowed me to realize the power of connection and that addiction and recovery counseling is more than helping others get and maintain sobriety. It’s also sitting with someone through their pain and reflecting it back with compassion. It’s acknowledging the courage it takes to allow a professional (or anyone for that matter) to hear their story. It’s creating a trusting relationship based on safety while helping another human develop personal agency and resiliency as they learn to become healthy advocates for themselves. So often, experiences shaped by addiction impact the ability to trust others, to be trusted and to trust ourselves. One of my primary goals is to help my clients (re)claim trust as they heal.
Working with teenagers and their families over the years has provided me with many lessons and ongoing rewards. There is an expression I heard some time ago, “If there’s something wrong with the engine, you don’t just inspect that engine. You bring in the whole car.” This is so undeniably true. Taking a family systems approach gives the entire family the opportunity to heal. Everyone is given the time and safe space to explore their personal perspectives and how they intend on contributing to the overall growth of the family dynamic.
Today, my practice has expanded to working with both adult men and women, adolescents and families as a whole. As someone who personally struggled with addiction for years, as well as someone who has been helped and supported by caring and compassionate counselors throughout my own recovery process, it’s my honor to pay it forward, deeply connect with my clients and be part of their change. While I am highly compassionate and empathetic to the challenges that come with substance abuse, recovery and maintaining sobriety, I place high value on authentic and honest communication. When it comes to addiction, sugar coating anything doesn’t work. Oftentimes, being a little more on the salt and vinegar side of things is the best medicine. Insomuch, I am honest, direct and sometimes even blunt with my clients, addressing the pink elephant in the room, while supporting them on their path toward healing. It’s through honest and kind communication that we all can take ownership for our lives and create a way of living to be proud of.
Addiction, and everything that comes along with it, is a traumatic event. My role as a substance abuse and recovery counselor is to support my clients as they work through all the difficult feelings and emotions that come through the dis-ease of the disease—whether it be grief, shame, depression or anxiety. Although I am primarily trained in the Positive Recovery Method, as a co-leader of the Mankind Project, I am also educated and versed in various approaches, such as mindfulness, meditation, visualization, bioenergetic techniques and other experiential approaches that can be weaved into the healing process. Every person I work with is unique, thus every treatment plan is different. What is important is that we collaboratively develop a treatment plan—strategies, tools, resources, insights and approach—that best serves the needs and goals of each individual and/or family. Regardless of the specifics of the treatment plan, the cornerstone of all of the work I do is the cultivating and then fostering a strong, honest and trusting relationship.
A Little More About Clayton…
Serving my community as a substance abuse, recovery, family and codependency counselor has opened my awareness to new passions in life. Along with counseling, I am highly passionate about the education component of this work. I have developed various curriculums and approaches that energize the concepts of relapse prevention and recovery enhancement. I am a firm believer that utilizing an interactive, positive and motivational educational approach is one of the most effective ways to reach, connect with and help others. With education, often comes a desire for self-improvement. And, with self-improvement, often comes self-awareness and resilience, which offers us the unique opportunity to re-enter the world with more confidence and to remind us of how valuable and essential we are to our community. Finally, I am an advocate for fun in recovery. Much of the recovery process is challenging, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t cultivate lightness and levity throughout the process.
When I’m not counseling, I’m celebrating my more than 12 years in recovery through connecting with family and friends, exercising and volunteering in my community. I get to be a husband to a lovely and strong partner, an uncle to the wildest nieces and nephews on the planet, and good friend in what we call our “Sobriety Family.” These solid connections help me to honor my recovery, and that of my clients and others in the community, with humility and gratitude. Within sobriety, I get to live with integrity and authenticity, continually working toward personal and professional growth and serving the people I care deeply about.
I know both personally and professionally the challenges that come with addiction and recovery. As a person in long-term recovery, I can attest that getting sober and staying sober are vastly different experiences. As an addiction and recovery counselor, I know the importance of supporting my clients as they examine their life decisions, emotions and the beliefs they have scripted throughout their personal histories. Addiction does not discriminate. I work with adults, adolescents and families in need of support and offer tools to examine lives affected by substance use disorders. I am here to help develop a recovery plan that can support the changes to come.
Clayton Goldberg, LCDC is a licensed chemical dependency counselor with over 10 years of experience providing treatment services to adults, adolescents and families. Clayton is trained in Positive Recovery, as well as utilizes various other approaches in his work with clients, believing in collaboration and that the treatment plan should fit the person. His experience includes working within multiple levels of care, including long-term residential, inpatient and intensive outpatient, as well as managing recovery coach teams and counseling adolescents and their families within the Alternative Peer Group model. Clayton has also acted contractually as a recovery consultant, providing insight and recovery plan development for those involved in lawsuits. Clayton is a certified co-leader for the Mankind Project and helps facilitate projects throughout the year, as well as serves as a volunteer working with children through Saint Luke’s United Church. Outside of Kagey Family Counseling, Clayton also works as a Program Counselor for Intensive Outpatient Care at the Positive Recovery Center.