By Jennifer Oakley, Wood’s Homes Human Resources Assistant
I’m lucky! As the Human Resources Assistant at Wood’s Homes, I get to meet most of the 450 staff here. I am continually amazed at the compassion and commitment I see in each of them every day. These are people who come with a plethora of different experiences and who are drawn together by a shared passion and goal to better the lives of vulnerable children and their families.
Clinicians play a huge role here in our overall service delivery. What follows is my conversation with Chloe Westelmajer, manager of our clinical team. She was kind enough to share with me some insight into the program.
Tell me a little about what lead you here?
A: I worked as a front line youth and family counsellor at our Catalyst program for about two years while finishing my undergraduate degree in the ’90s. Then I moved to Montreal to get my Masters in Art Therapy and returned to Wood’s Homes about 3 years later. I became a clinician and worked for just over 8 years in various programs. In 2011, I became a Clinical Co-ordinator of our Campus Based Mental Health Services. During that time I started to dream of the potential for a service for children and families that capitalized on the multi-disciplinary strengths of our clinicians, each contributing their varied counselling and assessment skill sets. I believed that our different backgrounds, expertise, training and skills would offer families unique options for mental health treatment and counselling.
Tell me about Outpatient Clinical Services?
A: Wood’s Homes has long been recognized for the counselling services it provides to the clients in our residential programs but over the past few years, we began receiving requests for these services from people in the community, so in 2013, the campus based clinicians began to extend their services outside of the agency. This new program is called Outpatient Clinical Services. OCS has helped many families circumvent long waitlists for counselling and assessments, while also providing a vast variety and depth of clinical services that are not always available under the same roof.
What should people know before applying for the Clinician Position?
A: Clinicians that work in OCS are very flexible and creative. We value on-going learning and broadening of clinical depth. If there is a clinical strategy or technique you are interested in there are many professional development opportunities. We work collaboratively and there is a lot of consultation and supervision available.
What do you love most about your job? What motivates you every day?
A: I love many things about my job! First and foremost, I love the kids and families I get to meet. I am always struck by how much beauty and bravery there is in the work of mental health and I am endlessly inspired by the stories of our families. I also like to meet the families where they are to use the many resiliencies they already have. I like being creative with the clinical resources we have and I love the varied skill sets of our collaborative clinical team.
Walk me through a typical work day?
A: We meet with all kinds of families and individuals to help them find the right kind of mental health services they want. Lots of time is spent planning for services which can involve family therapy, sometimes individual therapy, sometimes it involves consultation and training in the community, and sometimes it is engaging in unique training opportunities. We try to knock down as many barriers as we can for families so clinicians often visit them in their homes. There are always new challenges that we try to find solutions for and many places for clinical creativity!
What kinds of challenges do you and/or your staff face?
A: Our biggest challenge in OCS is keeping up with the demand and making sure that we have enough clinical support and services accessible that are available quickly. We are very dedicated to efficiencies of this service.
What is your favourite story at Outpatient Clinical Services?
A: My favourite story for Outpatient Clinical Services was helping a family to receive a cognitive assessment that they needed for purposes of their child’s educational needs without them having to endure an 8-month waitlist. I have so many stories of families being grateful for being able to choose the clinical services they want for their child who was not finding success in traditional therapy.
If you are interested in working for Wood’s Homes in any position, please visit our website to view our current opportunities. We will be happy to answer any of your questions – just email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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