Name: Jeffrey Lund
Title: MA in Clinical Psychology/Marriage and Family Therapy. I am currently working on my PsyD in Clinical Psychology in addition to completing my intern hours needed for my MFT license. This month I am taking three-day course in how to administer the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS-2). I will be presenting strategies for parents with children that have ASD as part of a workshop on April 12th, 2014 titled “Families on the Spectrum” presented by the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT).
How did you hear about outreach? I learned of Outreach while at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. I was looking for an agency that would offer me the opportunity to work specifically with children and their families and I was not disappointed.
What are some other roles you play in life you would like to share? Other roles that I take on include being the father of two boys with ASD and ADHD and insuring that they are able to identify their disorders and work constructively and creatively with the disorders so that they can have a productive life. I am the husband to my wife who works along side of me in our business, which has the mission of educating and advocating for the children and families of those afflicted with disorders such as ASD and ADHD. For more information on our business please visit us at labsforyouth.org. We are currently in the process of rapid expansion that includes the incorporation of our business, non-profit status, a new day program for youth that was scheduled for 2015 but may be as soon as fall of 2014 due to our persistent clients’ most warranted needs.
What led to your decision to be a school counselor with us? Outreach offered me something that I had not been offered and have not seen offered in the past two years working as a counselor, and that was un-rivaled education, guidance, and support. As a new intern I was a man in a new land and although I had the confidence and ability to find my own way in time, I was certainly more interested in spending that time doing excellent work with children and their families than trying to learn the secret of filing and making coffee in an office with overworked people (which is a story I have heard from my colleges working elsewhere). Outreach offers a comprehensive multiday training, exceptional written resources, field supervisors that pick up the phone and answer questions promptly, and act as superior conflict managers between school personnel and counselors. All of this means that I get to do the work that I want and need to do and subsequently have my much-needed BBS experience hours signed off.
What are some key elements needed while working with children and adolescents in this role? Support from Outreach and excellent working relationships with school personnel, and parents. The number one key element is support from Outreach. Doing any new job well is greatly determined by the leadership provided above. Outreach offers substantial and effective leadership and from this I am able to do my job effectively. The job of a counselor can be mentally strenuous and emotional at times. The first thing a counselor needs is the assurance that someone is supporting him/her at the top, which has enabled me to make good decisions in difficult times. Good working relationships are the foundation for all that I do while at my site. Taking the time and effort to foster positive connections with as many staff members, teachers and parents cuts my workload, stress, and frustration in half.
How do you identify change in clients? I am a numbers person and I rely on data to begin with. I take a baseline including grades, school records, behavior reports both good and bad, talk with the current and past teacher(s), and observe classroom and playground behaviors. From all this info I can then do comparisons as I proceed with weekly sessions. Having the baseline data is essential to me for identifying change. I rely on data because I have found student’s moods are often incongruent to what he/she is actually experiencing. A glum face with an excellent increase in grades, increase in afterschool sports, and positive testimony from parents is more telling to me than the presented mood of a student who doesn’t like me because I insist on him/her being accountable (in reality most students think I’m a rockstar).
How can this practicum/internship experience help you in your future working in the mental health field? The work I am doing with Outreach is very close to what I have envisioned myself doing from the start. Being provided the opportunity to work with a plethora of children and their parents has given me the experience and confidence I needed to launch my own business to the next level. My goal was to learn how to approach students and their parents in a professional and meaningful manner with the explicit intention of providing quantifiable results. Being able to produce results is what differentiates the successful clinician from the others. This is a most valuable lesson that was not mentioned during my masters program.
What words of wisdom can you share with future candidates of Outreach Concern? Respect this opportunity you have been given as others around you have chosen otherwise and may be calling you soon asking for a recommendation so that they may come and join the team. Outreach gives back to its counselors as much as the counselors put forward. Take some time and ask your fellow interns about their experiences with collecting hours, how many do they have so far, how long has it been, do they feel supported or are they scrutinized unnecessarily, do they have a purple book with all of the answers that they will need and a phone number with a live person ready to answer the ones not in the book, and are they going to have all of their “kid” hours when it comes time to take the BBS test? I have asked others all of these question and dozens more over the past two years and have received saddening answers. The work I have done with Outreach is the work I will be doing when I leave Outreach and that makes it the most effective placement for me, so I would say for others to ensure it is the right fit for you.