• Every great journey begins with a First Step!
  • banner

    Henry Tarkington, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS

    My interest in the field of substance abuse came as the result of overcoming challenges with substances and the multitude of related and preexisting problems. Like so many of us, I required difficult life challenges to shake me out of it.  I had been through the standard alcohol and drug education programs and a diversion program in the early/mid 1980s. I found them useless. I began to make changes during a mandatory outpatient treatment program. I was required to attend 64 hours of outpatient treatment which worked for me.

    Late in 1987, I began volunteering at the old Polk Youth Center, meeting with inmates. Not long after, I began taking inmates from Wake Correctional Center to outside 12 step meetings. A couple years later, I was hired as a “substance abuse worker” at the Wake County Alcoholism Treatment Center (ATC), inpatient hospital. My interest in working in the field grew. To my surprise, in 1990, I was asked to become a part time substance abuse counselor on the inpatient unit at the ATC. On the side, I continued working in manual labor jobs for several more years. In 1991, I worked a temporary job at Wake County Court Services DWI program. From 1992 to 1997 I spent several years working in upstate NY while studying psychology and spirituality. I was the designated substance abuse counselor for employees and others in the community.

    In late 1997, I was hired at the ATC as a full time Family Counselor.  Due to changes in the field that require more professional credentials, in 1997 I decided to get a degree. I completed a Bachelors in Social Work at Barton College in Wilson, NC in 1999 while continuing to work for Wake County ATC. I completed a Masters of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001. Soon after graduating from UNC, individuals and families whom I had previously counseled at Wake County began seeking out my services. They requested I provide counseling for them, mostly for family counseling. In July 2001, I set up shop in a psychologists office in Garner that I rented for $10 per 1 hour counseling session.  First Step Services, LLC evolved from this humble beginning as an individual counseling practice into the company it is today.  I am very grateful to the individuals, families and communities we serve for allowing us to provide services.

    I have a Masters Degree in Social Work and Licensed Clinical Social Worker credential. Additionally, I am credentialed as a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist and Certified Clinical Supervisor credentials by the NC Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board. I provide clinical supervision for substance abuse counselors, professional counselors and clinical social workers who are working toward certification & licensure.

    I believe all of us have the ability to continually improve our lives. We can all feel more secure and  be more productive in our lives. Clients deserve a chance to improve their lives and my goal is to do everything I can do to give them that chance. I use motivational techniques to help clients attain goals.  Many participants at First Step have life changing experiences through participating in our programs.  However, my primary goal is to assist clients in permanently ending the problems they encounter because of drinking and/or drug use. Legal, family, school, job or other areas of life are affected.  My goal to help people never have another problem of any type with substance use.


    Choosing outpatient substance abuse treatment

    Choosing outpatient substance abuse treatment

    Congratulations! You have decided to seek information regarding counseling or education for alcohol or drug use.
    Substance use disorder – screening, referral and placement

    Substance use disorder – screening, referral and placement

    Does someone you know need treatment for alcohol or drug use?  Who do you rely on for accurate information
  • Client Experiences

    Arlene is great and I had fun meeting new people. I’m ready to start and get back on my feet. This DWI definitely changed my life, world, etc.


  • Read All Testimonials