November’s Guest Blog is written by Sara Peterson. Sara is Chaddock’s IT guru. In her spare time Sara enjoys watching movies, cooking and being outdoors with family. Sara loves being (badly) crafty and planning parties!
When I was young, a friend’s mom worked at Chaddock 15 years ago (she’s still here going on 30 years!), I asked her, “That’s where the bad kids go, right?” She said, “No, they have trauma issues but aren’t bad kids at all”. At that time, I never thought I would have any interaction with Chaddock, but here I am years later working on campus. When I started, I didn’t think I would be able to relate to any of the staff or kids at Chaddock having no background in mental health or trauma, but today I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.
In my role, I don’t work directly with any of the Chaddock children; I never meet them personally or get to know their stories. I work with technology to make a secure and safe place for the kids that Chaddock serves as well as provide support for staff. For a long time, I didn’t think anything I did affected the kids, but I’ve come to realize that through my support of the infrastructure and staff, I’m always indirectly supporting the children as well.
Although I’m not around the children and families, I am in one of the few positions where I get to know our staff through all aspects of the organization. Chaddock has over 300 employees, all of which are incredible. Individuals who have spent decades at Chaddock and have devoted their career to helping kids with trauma. I usually interact with staff upon hiring, getting them set up for their new role when they are often nervous and excited. They learn the structure and routine of the organization and find their niche within it and then I get a front row seat to watching them grow. It is incredible to watch.
Over time, as I continue to interact with staff, I see the impact they are having on the lives of the children at Chaddock. This impact is bolstered by the tools and opportunities that Chaddock provides them to grow and discover their unique strengths. This is transferred forward to the children they work with, who are given not only the tools to survive, but the opportunity to THRIVE.
All of the departments work together toward a common goal to touch the lives of so many kids. Each staff member is encouraged to be themselves in a world that doesn’t always accept different, and that’s important for these kids to see.
To support staff who are changing the lives of so many children is incredibly rewarding. I never expected I’d indirectly learn so much and that it would transfer into my life outside of work. Not all of us work with the clients, but we are all a cog in the wheel that is Chaddock, giving every child a chance.
One of the common phrases you will hear around those at Chaddock is “parallel process”. This therapeutic term refers to the phenomenon noted in clinical supervision by therapist and supervisor, whereby the therapist recreates, or parallels, the client’s problems by way of relating to the supervisor. The client’s transference and the therapist’s countertransference thus re-appear in the mirror of the therapist/supervisor relationship. While this is indeed the case, throughout our organization we often use the term to describe the flow of support that goes from CEO to Directors to Supervisors to Staff to Children and Families. We want everyone within that system to be feeling and experiencing the same level of care, understanding, and support, as well as access to the same opportunities – this is what is meant when we talk about transferring forward.