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Michelle Williams Named Eagleville’s Vice President of Counseling

Michelle Williams has been appointed Vice President of Counseling at Eagleville Hospital.

“My primary goal is to continue to improve our ability to recognize the social determinants of health and trauma that are often associated with those who have a substance use disorder,” Williams says. “This doesn’t just happen, particularly among our patients, who generally represent the most vulnerable subset of this population.”

The social determinants of health refer to the conditions in which we are born, grow up, and live our lives. In recent years, there’s been a growing understanding—and acceptance—that the social determinants of health are largely responsible for health inequities between communities. It’s why, for example, those who grow up below the poverty line are more likely to develop a substance use disorder than those who don’t.

Adverse Childhood Experiences, which encompasses all types of abuse, neglect, and other potentially traumatic experiences that occur to people under the age of 18, have also been linked to an increased likelihood of developing a substance use disorder, mental illness, and chronic disease.

“This growing awareness of trauma’s effects was already entrenched in the larger, ongoing conversation before I arrived here, but I’d like to incorporate even more trauma training,” Williams says. “People tend to see addiction as a lifestyle choice. But a child who grows up in poverty or who is sexually abused is more likely to develop an addiction or even diabetes. So, this training helps our counselors take a more comprehensive view of our patients.”

Williams began working as a counselor at a rape crisis and domestic violence center while she was still studying for her bachelor’s degree. “From the time I can remember, I wanted to be a social worker,” she says. “It may have had something to do with all the afterschool specials I watched on TV as a young girl. They usually featured social workers, and I came to recognize them as good people who were helping to make things better.”

Prior to her appointment at Eagleville, Williams was the Senior Managing Director of Integrated Health Services for the Public Health Management Corporation, in Philadelphia. In that positon, she oversaw a staff of more than 500 employees and six health centers that serve public housing residents and the homeless.

Before that, Williams spent close to 20 years with KidsPeace National Centers, in Allentown, working in various capacities. KidsPeace is a private charity dedicated to the behavioral and mental health needs of children and families. Most recently, Williams served as Vice President of a 260-acre campus that includes 300 residential beds and 120 acute psychiatric beds.

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in social work from Bloomsburg University, in Bloomsburg, PA, and a master’s degree in social work from Marywood University, in Scranton, PA. She is a licensed social worker in Pennsylvania and a certified pre-/post-test HIV counselor.