SHS Alum, and Outpatient Therapist at Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, Shante Whalen, greeted a large group of students from the Health Sciences Extended Career Experience, to give them a snapshot into the vast array of opportunities involved in the area of behavioral health. Students met Whalen at the newly constructed Autumn’s Center, a branch of Seasons that provides specialty care for the zero through age 21 population.
The students spent five hours with Whalen and other employees, completing activities, hearing from personnel about education and experience requirements for different behavioral health careers, and ended the day with a visit by Toby, the Goldendoodle, who pretty much makes everyone around feel happy!
While touring the space designed to meet the needs of those served, students saw the pods, identified by seasons, that provide the different services available. While moving through the pods, highlights included a sensory room, play therapy room, Parent Child Interactive Training (PCIT) room, and the sensory equipment on the playground outside.
After the tour, students grabbed a spot at the table, and Whalen began introducing different employees throughout the day who each shared a little about their personal journey guiding them to their career, including their schooling and job experiences along the way. Students learned about the road to become a psychiatrist, therapist and psychologist, and then learned about different positions within those areas. With vastly differing degrees of schooling, and a huge range in choices under each area, students were exposed to a tremendous amount of information and great advice for pursuing different pathways within behavioral health. Students were also given advice to get involved with any sort of a job that includes interacting with others, and one possibility for the seniors in the room was to consider a job working at Camp Autumn, which will open for the first time this summer.
While listening to all of the employees, no matter the amount of schooling or the type of position, the majority spoke of working together as a team to provide the most comprehensive services possible, ensuring that the child’s needs are being met. They also shared that behavioral health has become a female dominated profession, and there is a shortage of men.
Students were exposed to examples of psychological and memory testing, self-care tactics and coping skills. They conducted an auditory activity where two people held a conversation, and a third person was talking into the ear of one involved in the conversation. The activity was a simulation of auditory hallucinations that would likely cause a diagnosis of schizophrenia. When the activity was finished, the students were asked to consider how they felt. Responses included frustrated and difficulty concentrating. Students were also asked to ponder how hard it would be to go through their daily routine experiencing the auditory hallucinations.
After a brief lunch break, the afternoon was filled with information about Integrated Health Home Services (IHH), which is a team of people working together to coordinate care, the Peer Support Program, Behavior Health Intervention Services (BHIS) and Community Based Services (CBS), and again, teamwork was emphasized.
To mix things up and conduct a first-hand example of CBS, student volunteers were requested to play the game, Uno. Six brave students volunteered, and were instructed to give an example of a coping skill and how it was implemented in their life every time a player changed the color. Playing the game demonstrated the point of working on a skill.
The day ended with a visit from Toby, the fun-loving Goldendoodle who will be trained as a therapy dog. He was clearly a highlight of the day and is certain to brighten the lives of all with whom he interacts! Not only does Seasons Center for Behavioral Health “provide exceptional care through their highly skilled, dedicated, and passionate employees”, they provided an exceptional experience for a very fortunate group of students. The amount of time and planning to carry out the event is greatly appreciated, and the wisdom gained by the students is truly beyond measure. Thank you, Shante, and all involved in making the opportunity available.