Sarah Suzuki, AM, LCSW, CADC
Clinical Director for Chicago Compass Counseling
Trainer for Chicago Compass Counseling
Alcohol Counselor for Chicago Compass Counseling
Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor
Hi, I'm Sarah. I help high-achieving men control their drinking.
I am obsessed with the art and science of change. It wasn't always like that, though.
When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a writer in New York City. I thought psychology was a waste of time.
That's right. You might be surprised to hear that I grew up thinking that therapy was for people who wanted to complain about minor problems. I saw therapists on TV and wondered why anyone would open up to a stranger whose best response was, "But how does that make you feel?"
As an aspiring writer, I took on an assignment that inspired a dramatic shift. I happened to be interviewing a woman who abused drugs and alcohol. At the end of our interview, she looked at me pleadingly: "I want to change. I just don't know HOW."
I was surprised. After all, weren't substance abusers supposed to be people who were in denial? Like most of us who want to change, she was hardly in denial. She had the desire, but needed an effective path forward.
When I considered my own pain points, I realized that I wanted to make changes, too, but didn't know how. I needed tools. Figuring out where I could get the right ones, though, was pretty terrifying. And I knew that TV therapy wouldn't cut it for me. It was the starting point that would inspire my life's work.
For more than 10 years, the question of "how" has driven my vision of service.
Today, I help high-achieving men find effective ways to change their problem drinking. You don't have to do this alone. We can find a path forward, together. Call me at (312) 715-8234, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Being a Counselor
I view my role as that of a consultant. I'm not the shrink you see on TV. Instead of sitting there quietly, scribbling on a notebook, I will collaborate with you to ensure that each session helps you move towards accomplishing your goals.
I am interactive, friendly, and direct. You can expect feedback and recommendations at your very first session. You don't have to lose what you have before you transform your relationship to alcohol. Together, we will map out a course to gives you lasting success.
My obsession with the art and science of change led me to study clinical social work, evidence-based practice, and substance abuse in 2007. After graduating, I worked at a variety of rehab and healthcare settings. In my early social work career, I saw how countless people who were motivated to change their drinking walked away without effective tools.
Doctors, therapists, and self-help gurus talk a lot about using willpower to stop alcohol abuse. Why, then, does Step 1 in Alcoholics Anonymous make you admit that you're powerless?
Here's the thing: AA has an estimated failure rate of more than 95%.
If your doctor gave you a pill that led to loss of free time (going to meetings), diminished self-confidence (admitting that you're powerless), and the possibility of humiliation (seeing someone you know at an "anonymous" meeting), and told you that your chance of success was less than 5%, would you take that pill?
I know I wouldn't.
This is why people who secretly worry about their drinking rarely seek out help. Even though most problem drinkers can quickly reverse their behavior in the early stages of alcohol abuse, too many people wait to get help when they are facing disability, incarceration, or death.
The good news is that there are multiple solutions to change your drinking. And all of them are more effective than AA.
Research reveals a lot about change. What does the evidence say?
- You don't have to "hit rock bottom" before deciding to make a change.
- You don't even need to feel 100% committed to change in order to improve your life.
How cool is that?
More About Sarah
Key Philosophical Beliefs
- All people are capable of change.
- Problem drinking serves a function - even if the consequences are negative.
- Most men who engage in alcohol abuse can change their drinking without rehab or AA.
- You are the expert of your life.
- Every setback provides an opportunity for growth.
- When it comes to alcohol counseling, one-size does NOT fit all.
- Collaboration is the key to creating a plan that works.
- Administrative Masters (AM), University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Capital Area Counseling, Post Graduate Fellow
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Basic Training
- Motivational Interviewing Training of Trainers
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Training
Specializations and Experience
- Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT)
- National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
- Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW)
- Moderation Management, Inc., Moderation Friendly Therapist
- HAMS Harm Reduction for Alcohol Therapist
- EMDR International Association
Sarah as a Person
I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Chicago (nope - I don't claim to be "from Chicago!") and spent the early part of my career in Austin, TX. What energizes my spirit outside of work is my commitment to volunteering at an agency that serves at-risk youth. In my spare time, I love to write, read, and share time with close friends.