Thursday, July 8, 2010

back to the grind

Hello Bloggers
I'm back from camp. Camp isn't officially over for our students until Saturday, but I had to come home last night because of my new job.


Sadly, I am not living the good life anymore. My life for the past two months has included ...traveling to Europe, laying out at the pool, having lunch dates, hanging out with friends, doing fun projects, sleeping in with E, reading lots of books, and making lots of jewelry.

Well, all of that came to a halt last Monday. I say a lot of this sarcastically, but with a little truth mixed in. I feel totally blessed to have the job that I have. I went to school for my Master's in Social Work so that I would do counseling and therapy with children. It took a couple of months, but I landed a great job doing just that. I have the opportunity to work with children, adolescents, and their families. I won't lie though ... It wasn't easy getting back to work after having two fabulous months off.

Today was the first day that I spent most of the day around clients. It was a little crazy. In the morning we have a summer camp group of about 15 elementary school aged children who come from 8-11. 

When I say that it is a little crazy ... I am lying. It's a lot crazy. The kids are fun for sure, but also a handful. It's like taking the bad difficult kids from each grade and sticking them in a group together. In a typical classroom there might be a couple kids we are hyper, act out, or can't control their emotions. This group is like taking those kids from each classroom and making one happy little group out of them. 

It is crazy! 

At any given moment they're each acting out, distracted, unable to focus, or acting crazy in their own little ways. 

There are times when one of the kids has a good day. However, I am learning to change my expectations of what a good day looks like. 

Like I said, it is nuts ... but I love it. 

It's exactly what I should be doing right now. It's not easy, but I don't think it is supposed to be. These are kids that have had some pretty difficult things happen to them.

It's so easy to get frustrated because a kid's behavior is terrible, but I have to remind myself that I have no clue that what child encountered or had to deal with that morning or the previous night. 

It breaks my heart to think about.

When I am not helping lead groups, I do individual therapy. Today I did my first intake with my first client. When I pictured my first client I naively imagined a shy but playful little 5 year old. My picture was dead wrong. 

My intake showed up, and they were a 17 year old who experimented with drugs after encountering years of physical abuse by their alcoholic father. 

The intake went well, and my first client actually seems like a decent kid who needs some structure and direction. 

BUT ... the intake went a little south when the mother decided to challenge and question me (in front of their child) about whether or not I could handle this kid. I've been working in substance abuse for the past 3 years, so I am not intimidated by this kid, but her questioning did put me on the spot. 

She literally said to me ... "Do you think you can handle him, or will you let him manipulate you? I mean, you're young and cute and he's thinking you're cute ... you're not going to let him sweet talk you - right?" 

I didn't even know what to say. I guess she thought I was some emotionally driven teenage girl who was going to be smitten by her delinquent son. Sick ...

It was a little discouraging, but I am confident that I can help this kid. 
I am curious, what age to you think you have to be before people view you as a qualified professional?

Who knows?? I'm sure this won't be the first time I encounter this. 

So there you go. A glimpse into the fabulous world of community mental health services. 
I'm sure I'll have many more stories to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rachel, I totally understand your frustration. I get attitude and/or questions from parents because of my age/gender/size/appearance/etc., and I've been teaching for three years and have my master's degree. It's interesting that it is usually parents of male students who are concerned about the age factor. All you can do is break stereotypes and prove them wrong. I know you will do a great job!