What you think is what you get September 4, 2012

I finished my graduate and post graduate work as a fledgling soon to be psychologist and started to look for a job. One of the seasoned colleagues I had worked with gave me an inspiring bit of information when he said you might have to learn how to say “would you like French fries with that”. Meaning I might have to take work anywhere I could get it, even though I had just completed a doctoral degree. In 1990 I had entered college at age 40 with a grand total of 7 credits to my name. Eleven years later I had earned three degrees and gone from a financially secure job to not having any job. It made me think about whether or not I had made a good decision ten years earlier about going to college.

Being naturally resilient I looked for the silver lining in the clouds life had put around me as I walked out the door of the large corporate offices. I had interned there for the past two years. I was scared but knew I had to get to work studying for the North American licensing exam otherwise known as the EPPP. This exam has to be completed before I could open my private practice.

I had taken the exam two years earlier, and of course as is my style, I enjoyed it so much the first time I decided to take it again. Humor there, in reality I have difficulty understanding what test writers are looking for on their exams. Sometimes I can study extensively and take the test and not recognize any of questions. While I am reading I don’t have a clue what information is important to remember. After taking the test once then I know what I have to study out of the text books. This may not make sense to many of you traditional learners. But for me it has been a way of life throughout my school years.

I took three months off looking for work just to study. The three months grew into eight. I took the EPPP and passed it, then took the Minnesota licensing exam, again enjoyed it too much and had to return for a follow up session later that month. Finally a success, I was ready to look for work, knowing my license was in the mail! Wooo Hooo!

Honestly it was difficult to find work. The hard part was telling future employers that I was starting my own business in private practice. I had heard it took one full year to fill a calendar with enough patients to be considered full time. So I told potential employers I might only work for them six months to a year. Few people had wanted to hire me because of my leaving them soon. I finally found a non-profit agency that provided in-home therapy and they were excited to hire me. The manager thought we could work out my office hours with their schedule for in-home therapy.

Little did I know it was such a difficult population to work with. Many of the families I worked with have children that were so misbehaved they were not welcome in a therapy office. Some of the kids refused to go to therapy and some parents would not attend therapy unless it was at home. Half or my case load was in the inner city, the other half in the suburbs. Having troubled kids did not have geographic boundaries. It seemed like they were in every school district.

The nonprofit I worked for had five different programs they offered families. I found one group of social workers there who ran a pre-school program for Autistic Spectrum kids. From the first time I met the director of this program I knew we had a common philosophy of how to work with kids. Two of my therapy children attended pre-school during therapy sessions I would hear the parents discuss what they were learning from the pre-school program. One day I asked the director if I could sit in the classroom while they taught class. They were using a strength based model similar to the resiliency model I use. I developed a resiliency class of my own and taught for the local YMCA, head start program and some schools.

I worked with this agency for the next two years learning about high risk youth and their families. As I wrote earlier I recently received my license to practice in the realm of psychology. Apparently my name kept coming up on a data base for any agency looking for new potential employees. The department of corrections kept contacting by internet asking if I were interested in employment. Finally I set up an interview with Dr. Brown at Shakopee women’s correctional facility. I saw an opportunity to teach the women in prison who may have had troubled kids on the outside.

I accepted employment with DOC SHK in the Spring of 2005. By Fall that same year I started my first resiliency class. LEAD THIS TO TEACHING STYLES OF EFFECTIVE EDUCATORS