Q&A with Laura Pugsley

Title: Director of Outpatient Services

Facility: Foundations Atlanta at Roswell

Education: Laura graduated from the University of Georgia with a BA in psychology in 1993 and went on to earn her MS in professional counseling in 1998 from Georgia State University. Degrees/certifications/licenses: Laura received her LPC in 2007.

Hometown: She’s originally from Canada, but her father moved the family to Georgia in 1982.

What makes you passionate about treatment?
Being able to see someone make such positive changes in their life when they were in what was considered the most helpless situation they could be in. To be a part of that journey and be able to walk that with them is just an honor.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?
The interaction I have with my staff and with the patients here. Yes, it’s an administrative job, but I also get to do a lot of clinical work and continue to be a part of the journey that our patients are on. And I get to work with our very talented staff that we hand-picked.

What would you say to families going through the process of treatment with a loved one?
It’s difficult. The number one priority for them needs to be self-care. They need to learn about recovery for themselves and take an active role, getting as much education as possible. This is not going to happen in 60 days, 90 days—it’s a long journey, so they need to be patient with their loved ones and themselves.

What’s your daily routine?
I’ve never had the same day happen twice, so my daily routine is that I come in to the office in the morning and really begin interacting with the staff members and patients to see what’s going on, attending to any needs of the facility, my staff and my patients. I’m the catch-all person who answers a lot of the bigger questions that the day-to-day staff can’t answer.

What do you do to stay energized during the day?
I get out of my office. I don’t use the phone very much. I walk around, I go to my staff’s offices. I’ll go outside. I just try to keep myself moving. I think if you sit still in front of a computer all day, you’re going to get physically and emotionally drained.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
I play tennis on an ALTA team (Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association), and I’m also a volunteer coach for a running club for children in Kennesaw.

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Italy. Back to France. See more of England. See where my family’s from.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only take three books, what would you choose?

Any Agatha Christie book, any PD James book—actually three books by either of those authors. I love mysteries.

How do you know when someone is “getting it” in the treatment process?
It’s almost like you see a light come on behind their eyes. They get an excitement about it. They begin to take ownership of what they’re doing and begin to make a personal investment in their group, life, and all other areas. It’s moved from us pushing them to them asking us for more work, wanting to go deeper. They’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

What advice do you have for people who are entering treatment today?
Be patient with yourself. Be patient with the process. This will be one of the most different experiences you’ll go through, but also one of the most worthwhile you’ll ever have. Don’t expect magic to happen, don’t expect changes to happen overnight. This is a process, and we’re here for you as you move along in this process.

What advice do you have for people who are struggling to maintain their recovery?
I would need to know from them what’s going on. In what areas are they still doing the old behaviors? Who are they hanging around with? What’s going on in their personal life? Also, what helped them to maintain [recovery] in the past? [I’d] ask them, are they still doing it, and let’s see if we can enhance and add to that.

How have you been inspired by people in recovery?
To me it’s such a scary proposition to give up something that you have relied on, depended on, developed such a very close relationship to. To let that go and work through the grief of that and try all these new, different things and open up and really share yourself, that inspires me. People find the strength they didn’t think they had, and when they find that, it’s beautiful.

Favorite quote or best advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice was from my grandmother. She was the first woman in her family to go to college; she earned a teaching degree. She told me it didn’t matter that I was a woman, to always fight for what I wanted, to not let anything stop me. I could have whatever I wanted. I’d just have to work really hard.