Prior to beginning her current role as Program Director, Jennifer Pinkerton served as a Primary Counselor for Origins on South Padre Island for over two years. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. She received her bachelor’s in psychology from St. Mary’s University and her Master of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jennifer is currently in the process of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a certified practitioner of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) through the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP). Surrounded by addiction most of her life, including her own recovery with eating disorders, Jennifer has seen many of her friends battle with – and recover from – the disease of addiction. She enjoys spending time with her four talented sons and supportive husband, exercising, meditating, reading, and finding a variety of ways to incorporate self-care into her life.
What brought you to the field of addiction treatment? What brought you to Origins?
I have been surrounded by addiction most of my life, with my own recovery in eating disorders and seeing many of my friends battle with the disease of addiction or mental health and how it has impacted their family dynamics. I have lived on South Padre Island for the last 20 plus years, and when I began my Masters in Social Work program, completing a practicum in my own backyard felt like the best opportunity I could experience. Completing my practicum with Origins was my first exposure in working in the field of addiction, and it was an amazing experience in which I felt, “wow, I get this and they get me. This feels right.” I have stated many times, “you do not choose this field, it chooses you.” I completed my practicum and worked with a few other populations, however, when an opportunity arose to for a primary counselor on the men’s campus, I applied and was hired.
If there was only one thing you could tell us about working within your specialty area, what would it be?
Working in the field of health care, including addiction and co-occurring mental health, is challenging, and can be emotionally fatiguing, but you do it because you can relate. You understand what it is like to experience the struggle and the sense of freedom, and healing that comes from allowing yourself to get vulnerable and authentic.
What have you learned through your experience working in treatment?
Working in residential treatment has taught me that the learning never stops. I learn from every patient, family member, colleague, and staff member how to be a better clinician, supervisor, mother, friend and human being. It reinforces the idea that we are lifelong learners, and I love that each day is different and challenges me, helping me grow and develop into a better person. That, and I get to work with some really amazing people who are some of the most talented individuals I have known! The energy and compassion here is something you have to experience for yourself. It truly is a great place to work.
Do you hold any credentials or certifications? Do you participate in any professional activities outside of work? If so, please tell us a little bit about them.
I am currently a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), in which I will sit for my LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) licensing at the beginning of 2020, a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), trained in EMDR (working on Certification), and beginning the process for becoming a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) through the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP).
I am serving my 12th year on our local school board. I am currently the Point Isabel Independent School District Board President and have served many other roles and in all of the committees as well. I have served on other local boards, which has provided me with opportunities to give back to my community and increase my knowledge of services and needs in my area.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Do you spend time with family? Do you have any pets or engage in special hobbies? Feel free to tell us more about your life outside of work.
Spare time (I’m laughing on the inside- who has that?), that is a concept that I really don’t relate to, as I consider all of my time valuable and that I choose how to spend it, so none of it is “spare,” it is spent with intent.
I have four amazingly talented sons and one very supportive husband. My oldest son, Brendan, is in his first year at The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business, we try to see him and go to games when both our schedules allow it. My second son, Cole, is a junior in high school, and with his love and talent in basketball, we watch him play year-round with his travel team and high school varsity team. My third son, Aidan, who is a freshman in high school, has a love of fishing that is like no other, he is on the water every chance he gets and living on an island grants him that opportunity frequently. He is also a talented athlete with varsity tennis, track and golf (talk about watching him play- traveling all over the valley is non-stop!) My fourth son, Knox, who is in fourth grade, is such an eclectic mix of all of my sons. He loves to speak his mind and stand up for the underdog! He has a love of science and inventing things, the kitchen is always an adventure, as he is usually creating some concoction or experimenting with something he witnessed on YouTube. My husband, Bryan, is a real-estate broker, who is the GM of his family business of property management, rentals and sales here on the island. He loves his road trips, and we seem to take them when we can, but we love to travel in the US and abroad; our favorite second home is Belize, where his mother is from. Life is never dull or standing still in our home, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
I did find a way to get “girls” in my life with my two rescued female fur-babies and my passion for helping those who do not have a voice extends into the animal world. As for me, I love to exercise, meditate, read and find ways to incorporate self-care in a variety of ways.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renown clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844.321.1003.