Dawn LaCarte is an internationally recognized behavioral healthcare professional with over 25 years in the field. She has served in numerous capacities, in all treatment modalities including senior level administration, program director, therapist, and business development.
Dawn is the Founder of DLC (Dawn LaCarte Coaching & Consulting), a leading multi-specialty counseling and life coaching center created to address the needs of families and individuals struggling with an array of behavioral health issues, including addiction, mental health, and trauma. Being in recovery herself since 2002, Dawn is passionate about helping individuals and families navigate the highly fragmented treatment system in a way that generates positive outcomes and allows families to heal.
An upstate NY native, Dawn holds a BSW from the NYS University at Albany, where she pursued her master’s degree in Social Work. Through her continued commitment to the field, Dawn also became a NYS OASAS Advanced Certified Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor, Certified Clinical Interventionist, Certified Recovery Coach, Master Reiki Teacher, Master Certified Life Coach and Certified Grief Educator.
While Dawn agrees that nodding and listening has its place – it feels good to be seen and heard – DLC’s approach is a strength based, present and future tense. Drawing from her expansive skill set, Dawn equips her clients with practical applicable coping mechanisms, so they cannot just survive, but thrive in their daily lives. Her approach is tailored, providing deeply individualized holistic care, meaning that she addresses mental health in conjunction with each client’s physical, spiritual, relationships also inclusive of the family.
Partnering with families to navigate the behavioral healthcare landscape, connecting them with the clinically appropriate level of care suited to their specific identified needs is where Dawn feels most rewarded. She truly finds her work of establishing and maintaining collaborative relationships with other providers to be essential. For Dawn, it’s all about providing clients with direction, education, and advocacy to support their wellness journey. Interventions, counseling, case management, family and recovery coaching are just the beginning of a remarkable, powerful process that can reunite families and empower individuals to access a happier, more fulfilling life.
When she’s not coaching clients from coast to coast, Dawn is a philanthropist, a feminist, and a decent Scrabble player. She loves gardening, spending time with her daughter and husband, as well as studying the latest findings and applications in the fields of cognitive psychology, business strategy and marketing. Dawn is the proud pet parent to Chloe, her 2 year old Cavalier King Charles who is the doggy love of her life.
Affiliations include: AIS, NAADAC, AAAP, ICF, NEFESH, ACA
How did you get started in your industry?
I started out in Human Resources in 1988. While working full-time, I worked hard to put myself through college but then began self- medicating in my late twenties and early thirties. That resulted in negative consequences in all major life areas, so I embarked on a sober journey in January of 2002, which led me to what I believe is my soul’s purpose, to help others. I’ve been in the field of behavioral health since 2003 and I love it.
How does your previous experience influence the way that you do things today?
My experience allows me to connect and engage with others in a way that creates a safe place for them to reveal their authentic selves. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and bravery to be who you really are.
What are your passions as an industry professional?
I take great satisfaction from having people come back to me after a session reporting that they’re implementing the coping mechanisms we discussed and that they are actively working on obtaining goals that we created together. It’s about making people feel safe enough with me to share their deepest thoughts and feelings, without fear of being judged or misunderstood. It’s knowing that I have been able to listen and support them in a way that they truly needed to cultivate positive change.
What makes you so passionate about your work?
Drug and alcohol use disorders are as far-reaching as they are insidious, undermining the lives of not only the people who are struggling, but also of spouses, parents, siblings and friends. Considering that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 22 million Americans age 12 or older need treatment for substance use, the number of friends, family and others who are touched by addiction is likely in the tens, if not hundreds, of millions. I’m super passionate about reducing the stigma associated with co-occurring disorders.
What makes you stand out from other professionals in the field?
Without a doubt it’s my abilities as a great communicator and coordinator. I’ve become a “go-to” of sorts in my field. I lean into my organizational skills to make sure that my referents, clients, and their families are informed at all times. I utilize all the best that technology has to offer to accomplish that goal and find it essential to my productivity and overall client satisfaction. I provide high-quality care rooted in science, compassion, and heart for adults and families. I’m a seasoned clinician at heart that will make you feel welcome, understood, accepted, and empowered on your path to a life well-lived.
While other treatment approaches call for either confronting or detaching from a loved one who is a substance user, I utilize CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training), which shows how to change one’s interactions with the addicted person to reduce or stop his or her substance use and encourage the person to move toward getting help. CRAFT teaches family and friends skills such as how to:
- Care for themselves and take back control of their lives.
- Understand triggers that lead to a loved one’s substance use.
- Reward a loved one when he or she does not use substances—and withdraw positive reinforcement when there is unhealthy behavior, such as alcohol intoxication.
- Use positive communication to improve interactions and to maximize their impact.
- Encourage a substance user to seek treatment.
- Spot signs that things might escalate to domestic violence.
What is your “Why”? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
To leave the world better than I found it and be remembered by the people whose lives I touched as a force for good in their lives. To serve people powerfully.
What would you say has been a major key to your professional success?
That I don’t treat someone according to their diagnosis or try to manage their symptoms according to the DSM. My thought is that manualized treatment or coaching simply doesn’t work. I know what it means to sit with another human who’s in profound pain—and whose suffering doesn’t fit neatly into the checkboxes of a DSM diagnostic category—and say, in effect, “I’m in this with you, and I’m going to stay with you as long as it takes, no matter what.”
What has been your most satisfying moment professionally?
It’s always when someone is able to connect more meaningfully with other people, have a clearer sense of who they are, and find purpose in their lives. They feel more at peace and more comfortable in their own skin after feeling so unworthy of love and belonging for so long. When they have a self-compassionate sense of who they are and what they’ve been through, it allows them to live more fully in the present moment.
What advice would you give someone who is considering this field?
Make self-care a priority. As clinicians we have made a career of caring for others in need. We know the importance of self-care for our clients. With that said, sometimes it can be difficult to recognize and address our own need for self-care. However, neglecting oneself can increase stress and compromise wellness. Behavioral health service providers can suffer from long hours and challenging days. After all, we shoulder the struggles of clients by listening to their stories and helping them cope. It can get heavy.
American Counselors Association’s Code of Ethics recommends, “Counselors engage in self-care activities to maintain and promote their own emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being to best meet their professional responsibilities.”
What do you wish more people knew about your professional field?
That mental health issues, addiction, trauma, etc. are actually quite common. Everyone has someone in their family that has struggled in one way or the other. We are all recovering from something. I wish that they knew the relational distress present in our relationships is oftentimes a mirror of disconnection in the relationship we have with ourselves. The amazing thing about coaching is that there’s no limit to how much it can heal, transform, and grow you. It provides a safe place to be heard and understood without judgment.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how do we contact you?
Yes, absolutely! My contact information is on my website.