I haven't been able to post here in a while. But I assure you, I haven't disappeared! I'm currently juggling my new part-time job at TexProtects, my second semester of part-time classes at Texas State University, and volunteering for SAFE as a sexual assault advocate 3-6 times a month.
TexProtects has me working hard on various briefings for Texas legislators: briefings on substance use as it relates to families involved or at risk of becoming involved with Child Protective Services: Kinship Navigator Programs, which helps connect family members or close friends who are taking care of kids who have been removed from their biological homes to much-needed services; Medicaid managed care and foster kids' insurance plan, STAR Health; and CPS prevention and intervention services for at-risk families and children (Family Based Safety Services). My baby, since I've started working here, has been (and still is) a big report on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which are negative, often times traumatic experiences that children have early in life. ACEs include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; emotional and physical neglect; witnessing violent treatment towards the mother; household substance abuse and mental illness; parental separation or divorce; and an incarcerated household member. These experiences can result in negative and harmful health and behavioral risk factors throughout the child's lifespan and into adulthood. Studies have found ACEs are linked to adult mental health challenges like depressive disorders, anxiety, social phobias, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders; an increase in negative traits that impair resiliency such as low self-esteem, low self-adequacy, and emotional instability; and an increase in the likelihood of smoking, binge drinking, and substance use. Children who have experienced sexual abuse also have a strong link to sexual risk behavior and suicidality. Take the ACEs test yourself.
For my counseling program, I've been enrolled in a once a week class studying the theories and associated techniques behind different counseling practices. Many people don't realize that there are a plethora of techniques psychologists and therapists use to help their clients, sometimes without a client even realizing their counselor is using a specific technique. These techniques are informed by an underlying theory of how humans develop, where maladaptive behaviors come from, and what the agent of change in therapy actually is. Alongside developing their own personal theory, counselors usually are working with techniques based on one or two theories, although some counselors are completely eclectic and create their own mish-mash of theories and techniques. If you're in therapy, ask your therapist what theories they use in their practice and how it informs the techniques they're using. I have a paper due tomorrow that compares and contrasts two theories. I'm writing about Adaptive Information Processing, the theory behind the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) technique, and Narrative Therapy, which is a sub-theory of Constructive Theory. I'll post the paper on my blog once it's graded (I'm shooting, as always, for an A).
I've graduated to Senior Sexual Assault Advocate at SAFE! It has flown by, but I've been volunteering here for nine months already! I've accompanied at least 16 survivors in getting a forensic exam. I've worked with the wonderful team of forensic nurses at SAFE to provide resources, medical help, and safety planning for people who are in an extremely vulnerable place. This work has been really fulfilling so far and it has been a meaningful way to start providing direct services to people in need. It's helping me not be too impatient about reaching my goal of becoming an LMFT, LPC and certified sex therapist. This is super important, especially now that I'm cutting school down to part-time, meaning I'll probably graduate in 2022 and then get to begin the internship phase of the licensing process.
Don't worry! I've been making sure to cram in as much self-care as possible in-between these three big parts of my life. My partner Ben and I moved in together (with our respective tortoiseshell cats) into a cute home near the Mueller development in East Austin. I've been making sure to see friends and family when my schedule permits, and I've been watching a lot of The Wire, Jane the Virgin, Queer Eye, and The Great British Baking Show. I've started dipping my toe into playing piano and singing again, and it's on my list to start crafting while I listen to my favorite podcasts (right now I'm binging Thirst Aid Kit).