I was born in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During my early childhood I grew up in a poor socioeconomic setting. As a child I was sexually abuse, physically abused, verbally abused, and emotionally abused. I also witnessed lots of violence and abuse both in the home and in the neighborhood. During my early childhood I often felt fearful and lonely. When I entered high school, I joined the track and football teams trying to find somewhere to fit in and be accepted. Much to my surprise I was a good athlete and liked by all my teammates and became popular in school.
The popularity I gained in school was a blessing because it gave me a sense of identity and kept me out of the gang life in the neighborhood. My need for approval and my tendency to “people please” was “quieted” for lack of a better term. During my senior year I broke my leg in a football scrimmage which subsequently ended my hopes of playing in college. After graduation from high school, I attended Temple University and for the first time in four years I felt very lonely and unknown. I was no longer this popular athlete. My feelings of fear, loneliness, and uncertainty about my place in the world had resurfaced with fervor.
Unfortunately, in my loneliness and unhealthy need to be accepted, I started hanging out with friends in my neighborhood experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I also started working for a service company (something I did for many years on and off in management roles). In the beginning stages of my use of chemicals I felt that I was having fun. Drugs wiped away the pain of living with myself. After about six months I began to get trapped into the powerful and insidious grip of addiction. I was trapped in fear and held “hostage” to the phenomenon of craving. I subsequently dropped out of college in my second semester.
The addiction to drugs took me on a journey through hell on earth. I tried desperately for over 20 years, to break free from the grip of addiction, going in and out of treatment centers and churches, begging “God” for deliverance. My addiction to chemicals led me to many years of unemployment, loss of finances, homelessness, and sleeping in abandoned buildings and “drug” houses, and often hiding behind dumpster in the light of day because I was ashamed and homeless. I was in and out of jails, shot in the head point blank range and stabbed multiple times and left for dead based on being in the negative drug culture. Moreover, I suffered many other tragic and near-death situations.
Furthermore, my addiction caused so much hurt and pain in the lives of others, especially my family. Addiction robbed me of my self-esteem and self-worth, I ultimately became hopeless and suicidal. In the early 2000s, I had a very powerful spiritual experience that I know had to be an act of God that lifted the obsession to use drugs.
After the obsession with using chemicals was lifted, I made up my mind to take full responsibility and change my life. I decided to stop blaming others for my failures, my feelings, my fears, and my behaviors. With the help of a few friends in recovery and a mentor, I conducted a painstaking and introspective work on myself. I made amends and apologized to as many people and organizations as I could, (especially my children and family members). Moreover, I completely and unequivocally forgave all persons who hurt me or I perceived hurt me, no matter how egregious, malicious, or unintentional their actions were, and I also forgave myself. During the early course of my recovery from addiction, I also realized that my past transgressions and addiction, led me to my true passion and purpose in life, which is to influence, inspire, encourage, teach, bring hope, and help others suffering from addiction and human developmental struggles.
In my efforts to become more effective at helping others, I walked through my fears and went back to school in 2006 and subsequently earned a Substance Use Disorder Specialist Certificate from Glendale Community College and became a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor by the Addiction Counselor Certification Board of California (ACCBC). In 2007 I attended Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena CA. and earned both my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in human development with a Specialization in Early Childhood Education.
During the process of school, I worked as a clinical director for two different addiction treatment centers. I also worked as a substance abuse counselor at various mental health and substance abuse treatment centers working with adults and adolescents. Moreover, in 2006 I worked as a personal fitness trainer at a local fitness center and subsequently started my own fitness training business later that year. In the winter of 2011, I was accepted to the Chicago School of Professional Psychology where I subsequently earned my Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology in the summer of 2015, all the while maintaining a perfect grade point average of 4.0 throughout my entire school process.
Earning my Professional Fitness Instructor and Trainer Certifications gives me a unique understanding of how to emphasize and integrate holistic health to patients. My areas of specialty are administration, psychoeducation, group and individual psychotherapy, family therapy and education, motivational speaking, life skills education, substance abuse counseling, communications skill training, twelve step education, cultural competence and health & fitness and nutrition consultation.
I am also the Executive Director of Dedicated Behavioral Health Foundation, a non-profit aimed at providing housing, counseling, and life skills to homeless and ex-nonviolent criminal offenders deserving of a second chance. These important tools will help them maintain housing and cope with daily stressors in a healthy manner and live a self-supporting life.
“Let fear be what it is…but do not let fear determine who you are.” Dr. Keith Marshall, Psy.D., MHD, LAADC, SUDCC-IV-CS,
Help those struggling get back on their feet, make a tax deductible donation to Dedicato today. Dedicated Behavioral Health Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3)
The mission of the Dedicated Behavioral Health Foundation is to provide comprehensive supportive services such as transitional housing, evidenced-based psychological services, and teaching life and coping skills. We will serve clients who suffer from substance use disorders, ex-non-violent offenders, and parolees, to help them become more productive, useful, and whole” above the two donation buttons.
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