Q&A with our Executive Director

What made you choose your profession?

I love neuroscience, how the brain is affected by experience and learning. I am interested in how trauma affects the brain and learning. Psychology kind of brings together the science of the brain and the human experience. By bringing counseling into the mix, it allows you to provide education and guidance to people who need help moving forward from bad experiences or learning how to problem solve when their lives get out of control. In essence, you help them change their brains and by doing so, improve their lives.

What is a day in the life of your profession?

I am in administration so my life is different now than it was when I was providing direct services. In direct services it was getting to the office, looking at my schedule, and because I did home-based services, determining who I needed to see that day, what I needed to do with that person, and what I needed to bring with me.

I generally read over the notes from the previous meeting, just to prepare myself for the next session and went from there. For most of my clients I used a combination of parent education and cognitive behavioral therapy with the children as well as motivational interviewing. Some children required behavioral plans, such as charts and showing parents how to use positive discipline.

My day now is more directive in nature. I provide guidance in regard to policy and procedure, general agency direction on services and budgets. I still look at the clinical services to ensure that we are true to the mission of the agency and true to the intention of the services and the requirements of the funding.

What impact do you feel that you have made by being in your profession?

I feel that this profession, as in most professions, is built on a set of skills that are improved on and added to year to year. I think that the biggest impact I have made in my professional life has been here at Southside. Prior to coming here, I was able to work in two different states as they were impacted by the implementation of managed care and Medicaid expansion. So when I got to Virginia and this had not yet happened here, I was prepared for when it did and I think that this helped Southside as we had to adapt to the change in how we provide services. I also think that Southside has a great team of professionals that genuinely care about the community and want to provide the best services possible. I try very hard to support the staff in removing obstacles that keep them from being able to provide these services such as red tape, too much paperwork, and unnecessary stress.

What are some different areas of your profession that someone can work?

You can see that just from my career, I worked as a home-based clinician, managed care case manager, utilization review, and clinical manager, then went into administration, and now in a leadership role. Bachelor’s level with a degree in psychology, human services, social work… can do case management, mental health skill-building, residential supervision, case management leadership and supervision, masters level without a license can do emergency services, crisis support and stabilization, if you are licensed eligible, that allows you to work toward your license while providing therapy, under the license of a therapist. Obtaining a license requires 66 credit hours at graduation from a master’s program, and 3000 hours of supervised training from a licensed Licensed Professional Counselor – Supervisor ( LPC -S).

Why do you think a person should go into your profession?

Not for the money! The stigma surrounding mental health goes all the way up to professional pay. The reason to go into this field is at the end of the day, what you have done makes a difference in someone’s life. By difference, I mean that you actually sometimes save lives. You provide solutions, offer support and comfort, provide safety, housing, food, and compassion.

You help to create consistency where there might be chaos before and restore relationships. In a nutshell, we provide hope.