By Jennifer Oakley, Wood’s Homes Human Resources Assistant
At an organization the size of Wood’s Homes, with close to 40 programs in Alberta and NWT, we are able to offer our staff the opportunity to hone their skills in a variety of environments, working with clients with a wide array of mental health challenges. The result for our organization is that we consider our employees some of the most well-rounded, skilled individuals working in the children’s mental health field.
One such program, our Temple program, with its four locations and diverse client base, encourages staff to think on their feet in a high energy, and highly rewarding environment. Our Temple staff seek to provide special, creative interventions for young people struggling with their mental health, while maintaining a safe, supportive environment.
As program manager Kathleen Rhodes can attest to, this program truly is a special place. The struggles can be quite serious, but this makes the successes all the more meaningful.
What should people know about Youth and Family Counsellor positions at Temple?
Temple is not just one program. The service spans four locations with three located in Calgary’s northeast and one on our Bowness campus. Due to the types of mental health challenges we see at Temple, each location is highly resourced, only serving a maximum of two clients at any one time with 35 Youth and Family Counsellors, four Team Leaders, a program manager and two directors managing the goings on between the four locations.
At Temple, as with all of Wood’s Homes, we eat, sleep and breathe the Wood’s Homes motto: We never say no, we never give up, we never turn anyone away. The staff at Temple specialize in some very difficult mental health struggles; developmental disability, mental illness and extreme behavioural challenges to name a few. Each client comes to us with little, to no other resort outside of lockup facilities, which means we completely customize each client’s needs with a unique wraparound service.
The culture within the Temple team is amazing. Staff are warm, funny, kind and extremely skilled. Each and every employee is a leader. As a matter of fact, 25% of Wood’s Homes team leaders are comprised of former Temple staff. It truly is an amazing program, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Usually, days are calm, but we do experience crisis, some of which can be quite extreme. While some may be dissuaded by this, there are few other programs where opportunities to learn and hone your clinical skills are so readily available.
Can you walk us through a typical day at Temple?
Staff generally arrive a little before shift and take some time to scan the environment and make sure the program is safe for them, but also our clients. Safety is the top priority at Wood’s Homes and something we all take very seriously. Staff then greet clients. Building these relationships is very important when treating these youth people. A 20 minute shift change will occur between staff and their shift partner. This allows for any key info to be passed along so there are no, or at least, few surprises on shift.
Each client has their own set of morning and evening routines. These rituals are part of treatment and ensure consistency in their lives; something they may have lacked before coming to Wood’s Homes. All of our clients either go to school or have a part time job, aspects of treatment incorporated as part of their ‘day program.’ Many engage in group exercises, occupational therapy appointments and/or psychiatrist appointments.
Once they’ve returned back to the program from their daily activities, we enter quiet time. Depending on the day, some clients will visit with family, grocery shop with staff or do something recreational; it all depends on the client and their head space.
What are 3 things you think help contribute to the success of Youth & Family Counsellors at Wood’s Homes?
- An openness to learn about clinical theories and interventions relating to trauma and disability.
- A laid-back, positive attitude.
- Connection and understanding of the emotions and needs of self and others.
What do you love most about Temple?
The team at Temple is amazing. I love how we work and find success with such a wide range of children and adults who have such complex needs. Right now, our youngest client is 11 with our oldest being 26. I think this age range really showcases our openness and ability to take on challenges and find success with vulnerable children and adults.
How do Temple staff feel rewarded in the work they do?
Staff at Temple are recognized by upper management at Wood’s Homes on a regular basis. As I mentioned, a quarter of Wood’s Homes team leaders once worked in the Temple program, meaning they understand the program’s challenges. Also, the success we achieve with these clients is extremely rewarding. To see a client find meaningful employment, or succeed in school is a great feeling for our staff.
Temple is set to expand. Can you talk about this and about upcoming employment opportunities?
This spring, the Temple program will be expanding with the addition of a client to our Temple 4 program. This expansion will mean the addition of six new Youth & Family Counsellors as well as one Team Leader.
If you are interested in working for Wood’s Homes in our Temple program, or would like to learn more about other opportunities, click the link below.
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