Joanne Bickford is the Clinical Director at Blueprint Recovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire. Originally from Massachusetts, Bickford has worked in the substance use treatment field for 14 years, though it wasn’t her first career path. Out of college, Bickford worked in finance until she had children. For many years, she dedicated herself to being a stay-at-home mom. Once her two sons grew up, she returned to school to pursue a degree and license in addiction counseling. She said, “I knew I had to do something purposeful, and something I am good at.” She followed her nurturing instincts and her own life experience to dedicating herself to helping people who struggle with addiction.
Her career in behavioral health has been varied. She first worked as a case manager in an alternative sentencing program, then made the switch to residential treatment, then to intensive outpatient treatment, and then private practice individual counseling. Recognizing the high rate of comorbidity between mental illness and substance abuse, she returned to school to pursue a Master’s degree in Mental Health and School Adjustment counseling; obtaining a license in each discipline. This provided the opportunity to work in a mental health setting with people struggling with severe and persistent mental illness; and another opportunity to work as a counselor at a high school.
Although she gets to deal with clients directly, Bickford enjoys working with family systems. When working with younger adults, “I have a lot of credibility with parents because I’m older, so when I suggest things like going to AlAnon they’re pretty receptive,” she said. “And with the younger clients I’m able to say ‘Hey, this is what your mother might think,’ and give them another perspective about what’s going on. And married people with children, I can connect because of my life experiences.” When asked about her responsibilities as Blueprint Recovery Center Clinical Director, Bickford gave a seemingly never-ending list. “I’m responsible for all the paperwork, all the charts, all the auditing, reviewing the labs, making sure that the charts are perfect with all i’s dotted and t’s crossed,” she said. “Supervision is a big part of the job. Ongoing clinical supervision and education is a requirement for licensure and I am responsible to supervise clinical staff in this area. Additionally, I am responsible for administrative supervision for the clinical staff, conducting staff meetings and clinical meetings.
I jump in to run groups and monthly all-staff trainings.” Despite the workload, Bickford said she likes to be a leader and promote unity among the clinical staff at Blueprint. Bickford has been married for 35 years, and has two sons and two grandbabies. Like her own big family, she says the staff at Blueprint feel like a family. “I’ve been in a few places and different types of facilities,” she said. “It’s the best place I’ve ever worked and the best people. Something special is happening here.”