Key Counseling is one of the newest tenants in the Key Peninsula Health Center in Key Center. According to sole proprietor Don Tjossem, “Key Counseling is a state certified chemical dependency treatment service provider that offers DWI assessments, alcohol and drug information school, and outpatient treatment to adults and young people.”

Don Tjossem

Tjossem went to Washington State University, where he majored in sociology with a minor in psychology. “But,” Tjossem says, “when I graduated I found I would have to go to New York or San Francisco in order to work in that field. I didn’t want to do that so I ended up in banking.”

When he retired from banking, Tjossem chose to go back to school rather than pursue his hobbies of kayaking, walking, and photography full-time. Having obtained a Human Services Certificate in chemical dependency, Tjossem went to work for the Washington Correctional Center in Purdy, while he pursued a master’s degree from Capella University. He later worked at the Choice Alternative School in Shelton.

With that experience under his belt, Tjossem decided to open a practice of his own. But local residents will be relieved to learn that his decision had nothing to do with the number of potential clients on the peninsula — and everything to do with the fact that he’s been a Key Peninsula resident for 20 years.

In fact, many locals may know Tjossem from his 15 years with Key Bank, his stint as a fire commissioner for the Key Peninsula Fire District 16, and his tenure as president of the Key Peninsula Business Association.

When asked if he had any personal experiences with addiction, Tjossem is open about his past. “I certainly abused substances as a youth,” he says. That experience helps him relate to clients.

When questioned about what people should expect regarding his therapeutic approach, Tjossem laughs. “We’re going to plan for the future,” the ex-banker says cheerfully. “Not sit around and talk about your childhood!”

Substance abuse facts

Highlights of the “2006 Report on Abuse Trends in Washington State,” as compiled by Don Tjossem MS, MAC, CDP:

  • More than one out of 10 Washington state adult residents is in need of chemical dependency treatment.
  • There are nearly 500,000 adults in the state who need substance abuse treatment.
  • Adolescents with substance abuse problems tend to experience behavioral problems when attending school. After substance abuse treatment, however, the numbers of adolescents reporting any school discipline problems in the year preceding treatment dropped by 50 percent.
  • By 12th grade, almost one out of five Washington state students is already a problem drinker.
  • Youth ages 12 to 20 account for 30 percent of all U. S. abusive and dependent drinkers.
  • Treatment completers show pronounced post-treatment wage increases.

The entire report is available online at www1.dshs.wa.gov/dasa. For more information about the results of a recent alcohol and drug related survey of Washington state students in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades, visit www1.dshs.wa.gov/mediareleases/2007/pr07030.shtm

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