Clinical Social Worker and ADHD Coach
Inez Costanzo graduated magna cum laude from Duke University in 1972, with a double major in history and psychology. She enrolled in the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago in 1973 and spent a year there studying child development. After a year off teaching preschool and working as a research assistant, she entered the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, where she studied individual, group, couple and family therapy. During her first year there she emphasized play therapy; the second year was spent working primarily with adults. She received her Master of Arts in Social Work in 1976.
Upon moving to the Washington D.C. area, Ms. Costanzo designed and implemented an outreach play therapy program for three to eight-year-olds under the auspices of Northern Virginia family Services. She also worked at the agency doing play therapy, couples therapy, and providing supervision in play therapy.
Having been offered a job with the Alcohol Program in Montgomery County, Ms. Costanzo began studying alcoholism and was hired by the County program in January of 1977; in March of 1978 she took over as Coordinator of the Montgomery County Alcohol Offenders Clinic, a program for alcoholic criminal offenders.
She moved from the County program to the Kolmac Clinic, a psychiatric and alcoholism day treatment facility, in December of 1979. There she conducted group therapy for alcoholics, did case management, provided individual psychotherapy, and coordinated the aftercare program for alcoholics.
Ms. Costanzo began a private practice in 1981 under the name of AAF Services and has continued the practice since that time. As a private practitioner she offered groups for individuals charged with DUI and DWI, creating a program that was certified by the State of Maryland. When she ended that program she continued to provide group therapy for recovering alcoholics who wanted to work beyond early recovery, adult children of alcoholics, and women working on relationship issues.
Shellie Fine joined the AAF practice in 1986 and brought a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with sexual abuse and incest. Through Ms. Fine¡¯s tutelage, peer supervision and reading, Ms. Costanzo gained critical insight in this area of therapy, which frequently overlaps with her other clinical work.
Because of her addictions background, Ms. Costanzo developed an interest in psychotropic medications as well as drugs of abuse. She has a strong working knowledge of psychotropic drugs and subscribes to a number of psychopharmacology newsletters as well as reading books on the topic of medication. As a social worker, she does not medicate, nor have a level of knowledge commensurate with that of a medical doctor. However, she is able to apply what she knows about medications to what she sees happening with her clients. She can help clients determine when it is appropriate to consider medication, what questions they should bring up with a doctor, and when a client might be having a reaction to a medication, or be over- or under-medicated.
A few years ago she began coaching individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). She had developed an interest in ADHD with the publication of Driven to Distraction. At that time, it became clear that a number of people she was seeing were coping with the illness, but since many were also in recovery from alcoholism/drug addiction, she was concerned about the medications used to treat it. What started as research into the safety of ADHD medications expanded quickly into full immersion in the subject through workshops and extensive reading.
Interestingly, Ms. Costanzo found that a number of people in her personal life had ADHD, and she effectively began coaching some of them several years before becoming a professional coach.
Today ADHD coaching is a good balance to some of the deep therapy work Ms. Costanzo does most of the time. In contrast to therapy, coaching does not involve a significant amount of time delving into the past. Instead, it focuses on developing practical and personalized solutions for dealing with ADHD in the present. ADHD often affects entire families, and Ms. Costanzo works with clients not only on managing their own ADHD, but also on coping with ADHD in spouses and children.