Henry Tarkington, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS

My interest in the field of substance use came as the result of overcoming challenges with substances and the multitude of related and preexisting problems. Like so many of us, it 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 1980’s. They were a joke. I began to make changes during a mandatory 16-week outpatient treatment program. I was required to attend 64-hours of outpatient treatment.

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), an alcohol and drug rehab 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. As my primary job, I continued working in manual labor jobs for several more years. In 1991 I worked a temporary job as a Substance Abuse Education Specialist at Wake County Court Services DWI program. From 1992 to 1997 I spent several years working in upstate NY while studying a spiritual psychology.

In late 1997, I was hired at the ATC as a full time Family Counselor. The field had evolved, requiring higher levels of professional credentials. In 1997 I decided to get a college degree. In 1999, I completed a Bachelors in Social Work at Barton College in Wilson, NC while continuing to work full time at Wake County ATC. In 2000 I left the ATC to attend the UNC-Chapel Hill MSW program, graduating 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 family counseling. In July 2001, I set up shop in a psychologist’s 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, stakeholders and communities we serve for allowing us to provide services to them.

I have credentials as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist and Certified Clinical Supervisor. I provide clinical supervision for substance use counselors, professional counselors and clinical social workers who are working toward certification and licensure. I believe in substance use disorder with full recovery as the goal. I have seen many people’s lives completely turn around through working a recovery program. I live my life as an example of recovery. I went from an uneducated manual laborer, frequently homeless and in legal trouble, to a master’s level clinician and Founder of First Step Services, LLC. I am grateful for this journey.

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. We can exceed our most impossible dreams through recovery. My goal is to do everything possible to give our clients that chance. I believe in motivational techniques to help clients attain goals.  Motivated clients at First Step have life changing experiences through participating in our programs.  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. Only when substance related problems have ended can the person can begin to reach his or her potential. Treatment carried through to completion works.

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