Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Third times a charm

By Kristin Sorenson, LPC, The Alternative House
Program Therapist for the Homeless Youth Initiative and
the Annandale Targeted Youth Program HYI

I recently completed my first week as Alternative House’s youth and family therapist for their Homeless Youth Initiative and Annandale Targeted Youth Program. Like most first weeks at a new job, it was spent getting to know the program, the staff and the teens I would be working with. This first week was unique however, as I had the advantage of working for Alternative House in the past, and it felt a bit like coming home.

I started my career with Alternative House, as a residential counselor at the teen crisis shelter. I was freshly out of college, and the shelter provided me with my first full time job in the counseling field. I was able to gain experience, hone my counseling skills, and get to know the teens, volunteers, and community members that make Alternative House such a unique place. After working at the shelter for a little over a year, I left the area to pursue my graduate degree in Mental Health Counseling.

After completing graduate school, I returned to Northern Virginia and to Alternative House. I worked as a counselor and therapist at the teen shelter, providing individual and family therapy to the teens and their families. Over time, I transitioned into the role of Program Coordinator at the teen shelter, and was able to continue to provide therapy to the teens and families as well. My time at the shelter provided me with the experience and supervision to work toward my professional counseling license.

About a year ago, I left the teen shelter and Alternative House, to work in a long term, residential facility, for children and teens with severe mental health issues. While it was an incredible learning experience and challenged me as a therapist, I felt that something was missing. What I missed so much was the connection to the community that I always had as an employee of Alternative House. I have always found the shelter, Outreach programs, and the Assisting Young Mother’s program to be environments that are totally unique from any other facility or work experience I have had in the past. The staff are incredibly talented and invested in what they do and they handle crisis like no other. They juggle so much at one time, and they make it look effortless. I always felt fortunate to be around others that were as invested as I was.

When I learned a position was open as the therapist for the new Homeless Youth Initiative Program and Outreach’s Targeted Youth Program, I made the decision to once again return to Alternative House. I am excited to get to know some of the other Alternative House programs and to work closely with county agencies, schools, and local businesses and facilities. I am of course excited to continue working with the youth of Fairfax County and the wonderful volunteers and donors that help make these programs possible.

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