This month’s guest post was written by Simon Cottage Residential Therapist Kaylee Will. Kaylee earned her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Valpraraiso University and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Indiana University. When she’s not working with our kids and families, she enjoys running, learning new recipes for mac & cheese, and playing with her cat.
I have been a residential therapist at Chaddock for just under five and a half years. In the relatively short time I have worked for this organization, I have learned more than I ever thought possible. While there are a great many days I come home at least a little bit tired, there is also at least one point in every single day I know my interactions with a child helped them experience more safety and trust in their relationships with adults. These encounters are the first step in helping them heal from their trauma experiences. There is no greater gift to give someone who has been hurt by important people in their life, and I am grateful for the chance to do this work every day.
In the clinical field, Chaddock provides a great many opportunities for training, supervision, certification, and licensure. After starting at Chaddock fresh from graduate school, I quickly became involved in supervision and training from well-known, scholarly clinicians and professionals in the attachment field on a regular basis. I receive weekly supervision from a licensed professional, which made applying for and obtaining my full license that much easier. Chaddock provides opportunities for FREE training throughout the year that have made getting CEUs to maintain my license a breeze. My boss, my boss’ boss, and my boss’ boss’ boss are consistently available to answer questions and provide support when I need it. In the few years I have worked at Chaddock, I have been trained in several well-established therapy modalities geared toward improving attachment relationships between parents and children (and have watched them WORK!), have attended the national ATTACh conference to learn from some of the most well-known professionals in the attachment field, and have travelled to several different locations to provide support and healing to families through Chaddock’s in-home intensive program.
Working with children and families can be difficult. Attachment work is arguably some of the most difficult therapy out there and there were many days, particularly in the beginning, in which I struggled to know where to start or how to be helpful to families so deep in crisis when they get to us. But I have never felt alone. The level of supervision, training, and opportunities to learn and grow at Chaddock are unmatched, and the layers of support and guidance I receive through my team and the clinical administration allows me to build an advanced skill set in navigating complex situations, staying calm under pressure, and managing difficult, but supportive conversations with families that can, in other settings, take much longer to gain confidence in.
In all honesty, the professional opportunities are small compared to the infinite opportunities to give children who haven’t looked forward to anything in a long time the chance to have a better outlook on themselves and their life every time I walk into work every day–even if all I do is give a hug or remind them it’s okay they’re having a bad day. There is no better feeling than seeing a parent and child find joy together again or watching a child finally internalize, after many months of hard work, that while their actions might sometimes be “bad,” they themselves are not, and have never been, “bad.” There are few things more fulfilling than having a child who initially didn’t trust anybody that you worked with months, and sometimes years ago, call and ask your advice or just to say “hi” because they built enough trust with you to know you will be there and yours is a voice they can trust. Watching children and families recognize their capability to be successful and make positive progress, no matter how small, is a true blessing, and I am forever grateful for the experiences Chaddock has given me.
The power of relationships is knowledge that is embedded into every single staff member at Chaddock, regardless of their role within the organization. We understand that every single interaction with have with another person will be determined by the strength of the relationship we have with them. We also know and understand that we have the choice to give that other person the same, or a different experience within that relationship. Many of our children, at some point in their lives, have experienced relationships with adults that have resulted in the child believing that they are a bad kid and being unable to trust that adults will unconditionally be there for them. At Chaddock, we choose to give not only the children but their families a different experience when they work with us in order to create strength in the relationship. A different experience includes empathy, listening without agenda, space for reflection, unconditional consistency, saying sorry, asking questions first rather than jumping to answers, being reliable, predictable and always following-through. Sometimes it’s in the big moments, often it’s in the small moments but it is always a choice we have.