New director oversees addiction treatment house

TRAVERSE CITY – Care, dedication and a deep compassion for individuals suffering from substance abuse are just a few of the qualities that earned Barbara Overby the recent promotion to Clinical Director for the Dakoske-Phoenix Addiction Treatment Services in Traverse City.

“My passion has always been to work with women and children, and ATS gave me the opportunity to help women, who suffer from addiction, to live healthy and happy lives.”

Overby began working with ATS in 1998 as a residential therapist for women. In 2002, she took on additional responsibility when she acquired the duties of Director of Residential Services following the tragic death of the previous director. She hadn’t planned on getting into the area of administration.

“My goal as a professional was not one of administration. However, because of the commitment and the passion of the employees and the people we serve, I made a decision to take on this responsibility to help Dakoske to continue to be the unique treatment facility it has been since the 1970s.”

Overby served as Director of Residential Services for two years, and during this time she began to have a “stronger understanding of the dynamics of substance abuse treatment in Michigan and the impact it’s having on residential treatment services.”

She realized that the people treated at ATS today have many more needs than those that were treated in the past. Many current patients are dually diagnosed, and ATS has maintained the ability to provide treatment to those people.

“It became clear to me that because of on-going budget restraints and increased needs of clients, we would need to be more creative and aggressive in providing quality services to our clients.”

This vision lead Overby to her current position as Clinical Director. She views her new position as an opportunity to continue working with residential services and oversee all aspects of the agency. It is her mission to provide quality care to all of the individuals ATS serves. In addition to her gifts of compassion and vision, Overby also holds a master’s in counseling with a strong background in mental health and substance abuse.

Dakoske-Phoenix Addiction Treatment Services has been in the Grand Traverse area since 1975 and was established as a way to serve people in the area who suffered from alcohol and drug addiction. When ATS began in 1975, only men were served. But then in 1976, Phoenix Hall was established as a treatment facility for women. As needs were assessed, ATS evolved and between 1975 and 1990, services primarily consisted of residential treatment and transitional living for both men and women. In the ’90s, ATS began to provide outpatient treatment, and in 1996, a detox unit was established.

Currently, ATS offers residential treatment, individual counseling, group counseling, family therapy, detox, jail alternative services, drug testing, and transitional living.

“The unique quality of ATS is that we provide a continuum of services in our facility. For example, a client may enter into our Detox unit, move into residential services, then continue in outpatient services while living at one of our seven transitional houses,” Overby said. “Statistics show that the longer a person is in treatment, the greater their success for recovery.”

Substance abuse is a problem that plagues all sectors of society; therefore the staff at ATS sees a wide range of clients. Some enter treatment through various referral services while others come into treatment through the court system. Some also enter treatment through family interventions or because they have decided to attempt to live a sober life.

Since no group is immune to substance abuse problems, naturally some of the clients that enter treatment at ATS are business and medical professionals. However, statistics are unavailable on the professions and employment histories of clients. Overby does note that ATS works closely with MHPRC, the health professional service that helps healthcare professionals who are alcoholics or drug addicts.

There are approximately 40 staff members at ATS. The staff includes master level therapists, nurses, residential coordinators, case managers, drug testers, office staff, a full-time cook, as well as a contractual psychologist and psychiatrist. The agency is CARF-accredited and supervised by a medical doctor.

Overby’s pride in the accomplishments of the staff and the success of ATS is readily apparent.

“To get a true picture of our agency, one needs to walk through the halls of Dakoske Hall and listen to the voices of clients who have hope in their voice and smiles on their faces. One needs to see clients who were here six months, two years, four years ago come through our doors and not only thank us for their treatment, but also volunteer their own services.

“Finally, one needs to see our tile wall, a dedication of stories from clients about their lives, created by the genius of one staff person and dedicated to the previous director of residential treatment.”

Overby says that at ATS it is the belief that people who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction deserve respect and compassion. This guiding belief has helped countless clients and has resulted in major growth for ATS. Currently, 31 counties are served in Northern Michigan.

For further information regarding treatment or questions about chemical dependency, contact ATS at (800) 622-4810 or go to