Deborah Sullivan | COEHS | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Deborah Sullivan

Ph.D. Student in the Rehabilitation Institute

Deborah Sullivan

Changing careers any time is very brave, especially with a family to support. Deborah Sullivan did just that after working successfully for 17 years in the insurance industry. Feeling a need for change, Sullivan found a job that went with the Psychology degree she received years before. Sullivan worked in a residential setting for young girls in crisis and then earned her Certified and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC) license, working in a substance abuse adolescent inpatient facility. Later, Sullivan became a crisis worker and served for a number of years as a case manager for a mental health clinic.

Sullivan still wasn’t satisfied and felt she could help more people by getting her master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, which she did in 2007. After graduation, she earned her Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) license and worked as a mental health therapist. Sullivan is now a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and works at the Egyptian Health Department as a substance abuse outpatient counselor.

That still didn’t fulfill her ambitions, so she enrolled in the PhD program of the Rehabilitation Institute’s Counseling and Administration program in the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS) at SIU. Since Sullivan’s entrance at SIU, she has earned a Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Counselor (MISAII) designation. Her research interests include co-occurring disorders, supervision and multicultural competency.

After raising a family and working for many years in several different jobs, Sullivan now finds herself where she feels at home. Sullivan said the diverse and inspiring faculty at SIU’s Rehab Institute expanded her intellectual interests and broadened her personal vision for the future to include, teaching multicultural counseling, and disability policy development and service delivery to under-served populations.

Sullivan has traveled extensively, and studied social service and mental health policy in Germany and participated in a humanitarian mission to Kenya through SIU. Sullivan would like to develop substance abuse and suicide prevention programs for African ministers to implement through their churches to help overcome the lack of educational resources.

In April, Sullivan flew to San Francisco to take part in the National Council on Rehabilitation (NCRE) Spring 2013 Conference, along with several other SIU doctoral students. This conference is one of the most prestigious conferences in this field. Sullivan presented her poster on “Adaptation to Disability and Role Change with the Family.”

The purpose of the NCRE is to promote the improvement of rehabilitation services available to people with disabilities through quality education and research. The conference supports this purpose by focusing on “Family Matters: Including Families in Rehabilitation Research, Education, and Services.”

Sullivan has always maintained a full-time career, which makes her achievements even more remarkable. Sullivan said, “No matter what your age or circumstances in life, follow your dreams and enjoy the journey.”