Position: Classroom Therapist in the Intensive Counseling Enriched Classroom at Bridges Academy
What led you to your current position?
I grew up in Oakland, California and have been working with kids since I was a teenager in City of Oakland Summer Camps. I have always known that I wanted to work with children. I went to college out of state and after getting a degree in psychology, spent about a year working in a Residential Facility for teenagers who had often experienced intense trauma. I had very little training in working with trauma, but loved the work and the connections I got to build with these kids who had often rarely felt heard and understood. I realized that I needed more training and education to be able to make more of an intentional and helpful impact. I moved back to Oakland and went to graduate school, studying Counseling Psychology with an emphasis on trauma informed care. I did some work in the community as a TBS provider and loved working with families and children. I wanted to work in Oakland Public Schools because I grew up attending them and felt a drive to give back to my community and work with kids and families struggling to manage overwhelming circumstances often beyond their control. So, when I saw a position with Seneca based in an Oakland Public Elementary school, I went for it!
Fun Fact/Quote: I grew up singing and playing the piano and still love to do both!
What does your average day look like?
I start my day by checking in with our classroom team and greeting the students as they arrive. I check in with clients as needed and help them think about their plans or goals for the day. Every morning, I participate in the whole class “Morning Meeting” where clients and staff check in with the group about their feelings and personal goals for the day. I often then run a group therapy session or start individual sessions for the day. Throughout the day, when I am not in sessions with clients, I am often in the classroom helping out, checking in with clients as needed, supporting them in managing in-the-moment concerns or talking with parents and other staff. Some days I meet with parents or families after school for family therapy or support or I meet with the team to debrief the day and coordinate services for the next day.
Why do you do this work?
I do this work because I passionately believe that every person deserves to experience being, heard and understood. I have seen that many of the children and families that enter our services have rarely or never experienced that for many reasons – systematic oppression, trauma, lack of resources or support etc. Many of my students and families enter our classroom feeling worn down and mistreated by the systems that they have interacted with and have been doing their best on their own for a long time. I strive to be someone that kids and families feel that they can talk to and feel seen and heard without judgement and with unconditional positive regard and respect, because I believe that that is the foundation of healing. I love working in schools because of the ability to collaborate with other caring, intelligent and creative people who are just as passionate in supporting people in learning and healing.
What hope do you have for the future of this program?
I hope that this program continues to strive for inclusion of students who struggle with emotional, behavioral or learning issues and in supporting youth and families in receiving the best care and support possible.