The purpose of this letter is not only to detail and explain the nature of my relationship with David Gust, but also share my beliefs regarding his character and values.
First off, I have known David for twenty-five years, since 1995. Since then, our relationship has taken varying differing dynamics, ranging and progressing from mentor, to eventually colleague and trusted confidant. Over the stages of our relationship, David has always had my best interests in mind, truly focusing, striving, and guiding me to ensure I reached my personal and professional goals, all while avoiding being self-serving in nature.
Beginning in 2000, our relationship progressed from counselor/client to more of a mentor/mentee relationship. When I graduated college with a Sociology degree, David recalled I expressed interest in drug and alcohol counseling. Due to his vast connections in the addiction field, David reached out to Hazelden, as they were looking for potential students to join their Master’s program to become licensed drug and alcohol therapists. David not only accumulated program information on my behalf, he guided and explained the entire process from applying, attending, to graduating. Furthermore, he shared his personal training history at Hazelden, and explained what a Hazelden degree could potentially translate into, career-wise. Throughout this process he was open, honest, and encouraging.
Due in large part to his help and advice, I made the decision to apply and David guided me through the entire process with unmatched understanding and compassion. Unfortunately, being accepted required a move from California to Minnesota; however, I was open and ready for such a transition.
Prior to my return to California in 2006, I had aspirations to set up a private practice; but, even with a Master’s degree and working for Hazelden, I wanted to explore and learn more about private practice, the outpatient level of care, and different treatment modalities in outpatient work. I knew David offered various training that would meet my needs in exploring and explaining all these various areas. Therefore, in February 2003, I flew to Sacramento to attend David’s 2-day workshop training entitled Effective Outpatient Treatment for Adolescents. In this training I learned extensive differences between inpatient and outpatient care, along with David’s program of care that was being implemented at New Directions.
David’s training was insightful and educational, and amazingly thorough. In this training, I received a large binder filled with his material, written ensuring therapists could gain a realistic understanding of how David shaped this model of care through his years in the field. Clearly, David’s knowledge, experience, and skills coming together helped guide a model of care and a program that provided structure beginning from the intake, while continuing through the assessment, treatment, and eventual discharge.
My relationship with David evolved yet again beginning in 2003. While residing in Minnesota, and having now graduated from Hazelden’s Master’s program, and working for Hazelden Youth and Family Center as a Chemical Dependency Therapist, Level II, my wife became pregnant with our first child, and a return to California was in order to maintain existing family ties. Therefore, I reached out to David, asking advice regarding career prospects and job opportunities in the area. David, knowing I had an interest in private practice, was instrumental in helping me attain a job as a Wellness Counselor, at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento.
Furthermore, in October 2003, he helped me start private practice counseling as a drug and alcohol counselor, all while maintaining appropriate boundaries with our relationship. While it was not appropriate at that time to become colleagues, David was very generous and gracious in helping me get started. He assisted me in building a small practice, where he charged rent by the number of client’s sessions, and even made numerous referrals to help me get on my feet. It was approximately three years later that David, yet again, reached out, and asked me to enter his newly formed group, New Directions Counseling Associates. He was clear that this was not only his personal decision, but the group’s decision, so, once realizing it was a perfect fit, I officially began working with the New Direction Counseling Associates Program in 2006.
At first, New Directions was a program David owned and ran, and hired counselors to work for him to assist in running and implementing his model of care with substance abusing clientele. However, over time, it changed into a group practice of private counselors working under the name New Directions, not working for David but with David. David was supportive of the group and trained all the counselors in the group concerning his model of treatment and care through his various trainings. David and I, together, collaborated and began offering 2 of his trainings to professionals in various locations across California. Traveling together, we developed a great working dynamic presenting his trainings, sharing his unique and powerful modality in this level of care, with ‘Effective Outpatient Treatment for Adolescents” and “Effective Outpatient Treatment for Adults.”
To summarize my working relationship with David, David has vast knowledge regarding chemical dependency and the issues surrounding the addiction disease. He has been not only a pioneer in the field of adolescent addiction treatment, but has been a foreperson leading the way creatively, to ensure meaningful treatment for the substance use disordered person. David has never been selfish or greedy, with his time, knowledge, or program.
In conclusion, David is kind, generous and loyal. He follows through and holds people accountable. He has never been self-centered or egotistical in the manner in which he interacted with me. He has always been compassionate and heard my needs, and supportive of me in my life transitions. He is a truly humble man with a simple lifestyle devoted to the field of chemical dependency, doing what is right, and ultimately helping those he treats and serves. David is a remarkable human being and true leader, pioneer, and unmatched counselor.