What is your position with Ellipsis? 

I am a behavioral health intervention services (BHIS) counselor.

How long have you worked here?

I have worked at Ellipsis for one year.

Have you had any other roles/jobs during your tenure with Ellipsis?

I worked as a youth care worker with the all-boys units and then was offered to move over to the girls unit as their BHIS counselor.

What drew you to work at Ellipsis? 

What drew me to Ellipsis was the challenge of working with kids involved in the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services system. I had never lived within or engaged with the system, so I was nervous at first. As soon as I met the kids and started to develop good relationships with them, I knew it was something I want to be a part of my life for a long time.

Can you recall a moment (during your career with Ellipsis) when you felt like you were in exactly the right place, doing exactly what you should be doing? What was that like?

Though there have been many, one moment does stand out. A youth, who was 12 at the time, had just run away from Ellipsis and had been gone for about three days. I had not known him for more than two months before he made the choice to leave, and during that short time, I had developed a soft spot in my heart for him.

When he returned, he was scared and glad to be somewhere he knew would be safe. Once he came into the office, instead of giving him a consequence and sending him to his room, I shared how worried I was about him being out on the streets without any food or shelter. He started crying and said he was sorry. I made him a sandwich and a snack as he told me how he wanted to come back because he was scared and alone. 

This moment made it very clear to me that we at Ellipsis can be more than just a team that holds these kids accountable for their negative behavior. We can be the youth’s safe space — a place they have never had, their home to run back to, and the caring heart they lean on for guidance and support when they make a mistake.

What are some of the more challenging aspects of this job? 

Something I find difficult about this job is that I care so much. Sometimes, I can’t help but bring the weight of the kids’ pain and hurt home with me.

This job is so rewarding because I get to help these kids in so many ways, but it can be mentally draining because you are constantly pouring out of your cup to fill others’ cups. I would not change a thing because the struggle to see the special in others is what makes this job so great.

What are some of the rewarding aspects of the job? 

The most rewarding part of this job is watching kids meet their goals and want to work on themselves. Feeling like you’re their biggest supporter is great, but watching them become their own biggest supporter is the most rewarding part for me.

Why is it important to have residential programs in communities and qualified people working in them? 

It is so important for there to be residential programs in the community because there are so many youth who were not given the proper resources in their life to prosper and be who they were created to be. There are plenty of youth who come in and have never had anyone care enough about them to give them warm food, a bed, toothpaste and unconditional care.

 The reason it is so important to have qualified people working in these residential programs is that some of these kids will never get to experience true care unless we show them. There are people in our society who deserve more than what they started with. Having the heart to care for them while teaching them life skills is very special and so important.

What is a misconception people may have about mental health treatment? How do you dispel that? 

A common misconception is that the youth receiving mental health treatment are all aware of their struggle and why it was happening.

In all reality, the majority of the kids I have gotten the privilege to work with have no idea why their brain works the way it does. It has been so cool to give them a safe space to be themselves and help them understand why their upbringing has impacted them, their development and ways of thinking. 

A lot of people see the struggling youth in our society as troubled youth and never want to explore the reason why. We can work to dispel this misconception by caring about them first and about why they are the way they are next. Meeting them where they are and enjoying them where they are will always allow our hearts to be more open for what is to come.

If there’s anything else you’d like to add about your role, please feel free to do so!

I love my job and am so grateful I get to be a part of something that has such a positive impact on the youth in our society.