Director of Clinical OperationsVirginia “I know treatment works, and I love being able to work in an environment where we see people get better. I believe in the Phoenix House mission and like the opportunity to be able to be a part of that and implement that mission.”
George Knoerlein has been working with Phoenix House from the beginning of his career in the field of substance abuse treatment.
George has an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Argosy University, and a master’s degree in psychology from Capella University. From the start of his education, George wanted to focus on chemical dependency: “I made that decision because addiction and substance abuse disorders had affected many of my family and friends, so I saw the value of treatment. I wanted to be in a field where you see people get better, and you can be a part of that process of recovery.”
George did his counseling internship at Partners in Recovery and joined Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic as a primary counselor in 2004. A year later, he became director of client/employee relations and facilities, which involved handling licensing for programs, overseeing compliance, and working with clients and employees to address human rights complaints, as required by the state of Virginia.
Now, as director of clinical operations, George provides oversight at the corporate level for all adult and adolescent residential and transitional programs. He supervises directors and program managers, oversees the maintenance of facilities, and still acts to address human rights complaints. George says that Phoenix House programs provide all of the services essential to treatment—including addiction education, personal responsibility, life skills, the tools of recovery—and more: “They offer hope that things will get better. They empower clients by providing the knowledge and the tools to treat their addiction, so they feel like they can do something about it.”
George says “Treatment is a process. Recovery is a process,” so Phoenix House works to surmount funding difficulties and provide a continuum of care so that people can continue getting support. The staff works to counter the stigma of addiction by educating clients, their families, and the community about the disease of addiction—an effort that has seen great advances in recent years but still has a long way to go. Phoenix House also works to teach life skills that can help anyone, not just people struggling with substance abuse, George says: “We work with people that have addiction issues but many of the things we teach and provide are things that would benefit anybody. We teach people how to live and have better lives.”
After nine years with Phoenix House, George says, “I know treatment works, and I love being able to work in an environment where we see people get better. I believe in the Phoenix House mission and like the opportunity to be able to be a part of that and implement that mission.”