Greg Cox has gone from intern to primary therapist at New Hope Recovery Center, a treatment facility for chemical dependency in Lake View.
Clients come five days a week and are in groups for about three hours a day. Cox facilitates the groups in the morning, which are on a variety of topics and in different formats.
"There is an individual and family component, so clients meet with me for an individual session," he said. "We also try to include the family of origin and/or the family of choice as frequently as possible."
There are family workshops every Saturday where clients and their loved ones participate in group together. "This particular job is a fantastic experience for me because I get to work in the three main modalities of therapy: group work, individual therapy, and family/couples work," he said.
Cox got into therapy by accident … well, sort of, he said.
"I was a psychology major in undergrad only because I found the classes personally interesting; I never considered it an option as a career," he said. "I thought I would get involved in some sort of biology or medical job. It wasn't until I was approaching graduation that being a therapist seemed like a viable option for me.
"Now I look back and it was always right in front of me; I just never noticed it."
Cox is often reading psychology and self-help books/articles "as a way to learn about specific topics I'm experiencing personally, but also in turn [to] weave it into discussions we have in group."
For example, he recommends Alan Downs' book, The Velvet Rage. "It's an incredible capture of the gay man's life experience, but is also easy to read and understand," Cox said.
Cox acknowledged that each client has unique challenges, and he admitted, "that can be overwhelming and exciting all at the same time as their therapist."
"I try to remind myself that I'm not there to give advice because ultimately that isn't helpful," he said. "If I collaborate with the client and listen to their struggle before I know it they've experienced some relief because their goals for therapy have become my goals for them."
Cox said the best part of his job is when a client tells him that something Cox said really resonated with them. "This is a job with so many unknowns and variables that it is reassuring to know even the smallest impact has been made," Cox said. "It [also] is amazing when alumni clients come back and say, hello. Whether they are sober or have had a relapse it is affirming to know they chose New Hope as their safe space."
The New Hope Recovery Center is one of three LGBTQ-specific addiction programs in Chicago. It's a program where LGBTQ-identified clients can explore the intersection of sexual orientation, gender identity, and chemical dependency, Cox said. "However, it is never limited to only chemical dependency, the conversation always includes some combination of sex, internet, family stressors, trauma, internalized homophobia, bullying, rejection, etc. The list goes on and on, but underneath it all is usually fear."
ï申 Age: 25
ï申 Neighborhood: Lake View
ï申 Hobbies: Playing tennis, watching sports, painting
ï申 Relationship status: Single
ï申 Job title: Primary therapist at New Hope Recovery Center
ï申 Favorite movie: Perks of Being a Wallflower
ï申 Education: Graduated from the University Wisconsin-Madison in 2012
ï申 Favorite TV show: Saturday Night Live
ï申 Little-known fact: "I went to the Summer Olympics in London in 2012."