Spotlight on Martin Dressman, MSW, Northwest Missouri Regional Coordinator
I’m the oldest of 13 children. I was born in northeast Kansas to German and Irish parents and raised up in the Catholic tradition. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence on the plains of eastern Colorado and western Kansas helping in family farming and ranching ventures. I entered military service in 1970. I took a trip to Vietnam in the early 70s, and after discharge, I wondered around in my life over the next 15 or 16 years dealing with numerous unsuccessful career starts, low self-worth, depression, and an increasing dependence on alcohol and other illicit substances to help me cope. I would ultimately get clean and sober at 38 with the support of Adult Children of Alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous, and psychotherapy, but in the interim, I did manage an undergraduate degree and the beginnings of a career path. In my 25 years of sobriety, I have earned a graduate degree, gotten married, bought a house, become a father, developed a successful private practice, and in January 2014, became the proud recipient of a Medicare card. Did I mention that life is good?! As it is said, and on good authority, more will be revealed, and I’m excited about the next 50 years, because the results of my most recent physical indicate that I’m healthy like a 30 year old.
I earned my Master of Social Work at the University of Kansas, and now am licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in the states of Kansas and Missouri. I am also a Clinical Addictions counselor licensed in the state of Kansas. I have been treating addiction and dual-diagnosis disorders for the bulk of my 20-plus year career. My client population consists largely of persons 15-70 years of age. As a clinical practitioner, I have provided substance abuse counseling at all levels of care in both the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors of healthcare. In my private practice history, with my focus in the addictions, I have also treated most common psychiatric diseases and especially enjoy marital/couples, cognitive-behavioral, solution, and mindfulness work with my clients. Finally, I provide life and professional coaching services, perform SAP evaluations for the Department of Transportation, and perform substance abuse evaluations for the Missouri State Board of Nursing.
I began my coordination duties for the Missouri Physicians Health Program in Kansas City and Northwest Missouri in the early 2000s. I happened to cross paths with Bob Bondurant and the previous coordinator for my region, Dr. McIntosh, the originator of the MPHP program in Missouri, at lunch during a break from a workshop that all of us were attending. They shared some about themselves and the program that they had established in Missouri for impaired physicians, and I shared some about my recovery and program and my practice experience. We parted ways back to our respective endeavors, and several months passed, as I remember it, and then I got a call from Bob advising that Dr. McIntosh was retiring. He asked me to consider joining in MPHP’s efforts, and the rest is history. It has been great. I have worked with so many wonderful and gifted physicians, and it has been a great comfort to me to play a part in their return to health and their practices.
In closing, I leave with an anonymous author’s gem: “We know ourselves to the extent that we let ourselves be known.” And, one of my favorite poems, “Bugs in a Bowl.”
We’re just like bugs in a bowl.
All day going around never leaving their bowl.
I say: That’s right! Every day
Climbing up the steep sides, sliding back.
Over and over again.
Around and around. Up and back down.
Sit in the bottom of the bowl,
Head in your hands, cry, moan,
Feel sorry for yourself.
Or look around.
See your fellow bugs. Walk around.
Say hey, how are you doing?
Say, Nice bowl!
Han-shan, 10th Century Chinese poet