In Alaska, I work for the Division of Juvenile Justice as a mental health clinician in a locked facility that treats and detains adolescents who have violated the law. Many would consider this population “undesirable” or “not worth the time” but by treating these youth, we set them up for the future instead of holding them back. I have dedicated my career to helping these young Alaskans achieve something great despite difficult backgrounds.
By simply asking, “what happened to you?” instead of “what did you do?” changes the whole dynamic from persecutory to helping. So many come from chaotic homes and have experienced all types of trauma. Many suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndromes, serious mental illnesses, and other problems. I hold onto the knowledge that inside everyone is some “good”, and sometimes, like with these youth, it just takes a caring person to get them to see the good in themselves. This outlook combined with the Alaskan “spirit” of fortitude and hard work helps me to also be a better mother to my 3 young daughters. We are working to learn that life is really only as ‘good’ as we make it–so we have work to do. 🙂