Justin is a committed member in the recovery community of Austin and an avid supporter of quality treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. Displaying the highest level of integrity in his personal and professional life, he is a former marine and has worked in the addiction field and commercial construction management. His passion for helping others struggling with addiction brought him to The Arbor. His leadership skills and compassion for others make him excellent with client care and 12-Step support services while maintaining a safe and therapeutic treatment environment.
Jim has been actively working in the alcohol treatment and drug treatment field for over 30 years. He has provided executive leadership in multiple capacities and organizations, including the Greater Austin Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, La Hacienda treatment center in Hunt, Parkside treatment centers, and Heartland Health Systems. Jim recently provided consulting services to Memorial-Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center for marketing, patient access systems, and call center development. Jim has a degree in Education and has been a certified alcohol and drug counselor and a graduate of Johnson Institute of Intervention.
I started the journey of recovery in 1990 upon entering a treatment program. At that time, my life was completely out of control and full of pain. During my first week of treatment, I was assigned a counselor who assisted me in changing life paths. I do not remember much of what he told me, but I do remember something much more valuable. He demonstrated the highest levels of love and concern for this stranger that presented in front of him. His compassion so impacted me that I decided to be a counselor just like him once I became stable in life.
My first job in mental health was in 1991 at Vernon State Hospital as a nursing tech. I also began studying to become a chemical dependency counselor at the time. I learned a tremendous amount from both endeavors. In 1994, I received a scholarship at Texas Tech University in the Center for the Study of Addiction. The program was for students who had a history of addiction and demonstrated a strong commitment to recovery. I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 1996. I achieved a master’s degree in 1996 and was eventually able to complete a doctorate degree in 2006 in Marriage and Family Therapy. My initial intent was to stop at the undergraduate degree. What led to continued study was the desire to become more proficient in working with families. I had some challenging experiences early on while working with families.
I became a licensed chemical dependency counselor in 1997 and a marriage and family therapist in 2001. Over the years, I have worked in a variety of capacities, including, but not limited to, counselor, therapist, clinical director, executive director, and owner. Facilities of work included Vernon State Hospital, Lubbock State School, Lubbock MHMR, Southwest Institute for Addictive Diseases, John T. Montford Psychiatric Unit, DePaul Center, Starlite Recovery Center, and Creekview Counseling. I am currently honored with being the executive director at The Arbor Behavioral Healthcare. Much of my career has been focused on creating more effective methods for treating persons struggling with addiction and mental health issues. I have also focused on creating supportive ethical work environments that allow employees to feel part of something special.
Austin received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Quincy University and his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with a specialization in couples therapy from Northcentral University. Austin’s treatment career has been enhanced by a variety of roles, including intensive outpatient counselor, residential treatment counselor, and family services manager. He believes that addiction is a family disease; therefore, treatment is necessary for the whole family.
Austin entered the field of addiction treatment after his own personal experience with family members in addiction. His adolescent experience motivated him to commit his professional career to helping those suffering from addiction and alcoholism.
Austin is a United States Marine Corps veteran, a former collegiate basketball player, and a devoted dog dad. In his free time, he enjoys a variety of sports and being outdoors.
Deborah “Debbie” Fowler is a licensed chemical dependency counselor. I started my personal research into substance abuse after losing my Dad at an early age. After graduating from North Texas State University with a B.F.A, I continued my research until I reluctantly surrendered to the 12 Steps of recovery after unsuccessfully changing my alcoholic. I also learned how the effects of living with active alcoholism had affected myself and my family. While working in the corporate world, I had the honor of volunteering at the city jail with women with trauma and substance use disorders. I saw and felt the healing power effects of their sharing their experience, strength, and hope, as well as mine. They made my heart grow bigger. I left the corporate world, went back to school, became an LCDC counselor, and never looked back.
I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas but decided to be closer to my family in Austin last year. I am grateful that I found a job steeped in the 12 Steps of recovery. I am a proud mom of two grown sons and two “Frenchies.”
Kris has over 20 years of experience in cognitive-behavioral therapy and over ten years of experience in equine-assisted services and therapies. She has worked with children and adults with disabilities, at-risk youth, children in foster care, abused children, veterans, parolees, and the homeless. Kris joined The Arbor in 2012 under the mentorship of Mary Lynn Szymandera, LCDC, CEIP, founder of The Arbor’s equine program. Kris is a therapeutic riding instructor (TRI) and equine specialist in mental health and learning (ESMHL) certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH International). She has received training from the EAGALA (Equine- Assisted Growth and Learning Association) and Natural Lifemanship™. Kris oversees the care and well-being of The Arbor horses and facilitates weekly one-on-one equine therapy sessions and weekly gender-specific group equine sessions for The Arbor clients. She also facilitates equine therapy for The Arbor’s monthly family program.