September 2, 2020 | Comments Off on Creating A Village And Building Trust
Why Michelle Nichols Chose Therapeutic Foster Care.
Michelle Nichols always had the mindset of helping others, either as a doctor, or teacher, or social worker. She knew she wanted to be in the community doing her best to improve the lives of others. When learning about the intersection of social justice and mental health in her undergraduate classes, she knew her fit was in this field.
Unlike an individual or private practice, Michelle notes there is something about therapeutic programs like foster care and day treatment that provide more insight into a child’s real-world setting. It provides an opportunity to address inequality and understand what a child’s needs might be outside of anything related to mental or behavioral health.
Prior to moving to North Carolina, Michelle was a manager of the first teen suicide chat line in Michigan. She provided assistance in training teen peer counselors and the clinicians who were a part of the program. In the same setting, she mentioned that you learn more about what a person needs on the phone before a crisis and before a teen might be in the emergency room. The open discussion provides context, trust, and understanding that is sometimes missed while managing a crisis in the hospital setting.
She takes much of this experience with her into her work at Youth Focus and Alexander.
Building strong relationships and trust between each child in our programs and all of the staff is key to Michelle’s management style. In building that trust, she explains that kids open up more and it is easier to recognize what might lead them to a crisis moment. Then you will have a better understanding of how to help them the next time around.
“Though in that crisis moment you feel like they are 1,000 steps behind in treatment but you both are able to learn from that.”
The same goes for her staff. Between her time in Day Treatment and in Therapeutic Foster Care, it has been important to create a safe space for staff. This close network of counselors and coaches serves as an important support system for each person on the team as well as for parents too.
“A lot of parents can’t do it right now for some reason or another. Programs like Intensive In-Home and Therapeutic Foster Care offer them the additional support they need and the next steps in supporting their child.”
Community-based programs like Therapeutic Foster Care offer parents and kids an opportunity to refocus their skills and goals in managing mental and behavioral health challenges. Most importantly they feel the support of the intricate teams established to guide them throughout treatment. Over the short time that children and families are with Alexander Youth Network, Michelle mentions that it becomes a group effort, like a village, in supporting one another.
“The whole team really goes above and beyond. It is a duty to our kids, foster parents, and biological parents to keep them on track and safe.”
Michelle Nichols is originally from Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan and if the VP of one of the spirit groups in North Carolina. Go Wolverines! In her spare time, she is usually with her husband, two boys, or taking care of the new family kittens.
To connect with Michelle.
Written by Emily Gordon.