Moving Into Higher Education: How Being Awarded the Thompson Family Scholarship Will Help a Recent GAP School Graduate
Semira Jara was one of GAP School’s top students academically in the 2021-2022 school year. As a member of the Healthcare Careers Pathway, she obtained her PCA certification, completed a several months-long Certified Nursing Assistant Training, as well as Clinical Experience with GAP School’s employer Partner, Sholom Community Alliance (Nursing Home). Semira regularly volunteered with Episcopal Homes and participated in all of GAP’s community service projects. Over the course of her time with GAP School, she developed clear goals and expectations for herself, one of which was to receive a scholarship for college.
At the end of her experience with GAP School, she was awarded the Thompson Family Scholarship which is now helping fund her post-secondary education. The Thompson Family Scholarship began in 2019 in honor of long time Board Chair Karen Thompson. Every year, one student recipient is selected based on their academic and training performance. All of Semira’s teachers and trainers agreed she had wholeheartedly earned this award.
As Semira starts the next chapter in her life, she will attend school at Saint Paul Community College and enroll in classes to complete her 2-year Associate’s Degree in Phlebotomy. She is working full-time as a care taker for a family member and has even received a wage increase since exiting our program. After she completes her Associate’s Degree, she plans to move on to complete her 4-year degree at the University of Minnesota. Semira would not be able to accomplish these goals without her experience and time in GAP School’s YouthBuild program. She is thrilled to be taking steps towards a higher education and our educators at GAP School can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.
Health Pathways Transition Coordinator, Erika Thurston, was able to ask Semira some questions and learn her thoughts about her time at GAP School and what she is excited for coming up. Read Semira’s thoughts below:
What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your time at GAP School?
SJ: “Journaling in Miss Laura’s class about our life and childhood and sharing with each other and learning from other students really taught me that you can accomplish anything if you have people to support you and a strong work ethic. Listening to other students talk about their struggles and backgrounds reminded me of how no matter where you come from or how many challenges you have had, you can build a life for yourself and accomplish your goals.”
What excites you most about moving into higher education?
SJ: “I am most excited about learning how to build a successful career and hopefully start a business in which I can better serve my community. I am so passionate about giving back to my community that has allowed me to accomplish my goals. I want to continue to discover more about the power of journalism and hopefully make a difference in the world.”
How did/will earning the Thompson Family Scholarship impact your plans after high school?
SJ: “When I found out I got the scholarship I realized that I could do more with my plans after graduation. I planned to go to community college, but with this scholarship, I can also pay for all of the books I will need and supplies and other materials for any training I pursue. My family and I felt that I needed to find more sources of income if I would be able to manage college without more financial support. My entire family is grateful for the scholarship I have received and can’t wait to see what comes from my next chapter.”
The Change Clinic is a key project of the Community & School Collaborative. Change Clinic provides therapies leading to healing and growth for children, youth, adults, couples and families who may be facing challenges related to transition, traumatic experiences, and other barriers to living life to the fullest. A culturally and linguistically diverse team of clinicians provide services at Change Clinic. Collectively, they are trained in a wide range of therapeutic techniques and approaches, and many specialize in specific challenges or populations.
As Change Clinic was rapidly growing, we began searching for a larger space in order to provide services for more clients, as well as host office space for our administrative staff. When a space opened up just a few doors down from our current location in Northeast Minneapolis, the leaders at Change Inc. decided to make the move.
In April 2022, the newly relocated Change Clinic re-opened its’ doors to the community. The new location came at a time when the community was truly in need of its’ expanded services. Wait lists for mental health providers and treatment were months long and community members needed another option. Fortunately, Change Clinic’s growing roster of clinicians and therapists were able to provide for these needs.
The new clinic and office space boasts five private therapy rooms, one play therapy room, a large training space, multiple conference rooms, a group room, open-seating desks for admin staff, private offices, and a third-floor bonus space with a rooftop terrace. Many spaces are even available to community groups and programs to rent out for an hourly rate.
Before the Change Clinic, Change Inc. was home to a small outpatient clinic, usually referred to internally as the “clinic project.” To support this expansion, Change Clinic now has a manager, Ana Lewis. Stepping into the position of Clinic Manager in July of 2021, her role’s objectives include recruiting clinicians and clients and growing the clinic in an intentional way to best support healing and growth for clients.
So, what brought about the need for an expansion and relocation of Change Clinic? While it was always in the plans to expand mental health services to the community, there had been other programs within Change Inc. that needed to get up and running and stabilized. However, as COVID took over the world, there was suddenly a large need for more mental health support in the community. Many mental health clinics and agencies nearby had, and still have, waiting lists ranging from six weeks to six months. Change Clinic was able to put its’ services into high gear by recruiting many new clinicians, and in turn, many new clients.
Currently, Change Clinic clinicians are serving 342 clients, and is continuing to add clinicians to meet the community’s need for mental health services.
Serving All Communities
A goal of Change Clinic is to remove barriers to care, and language is top of mind. Change Clinic prioritizes hiring clinicians who are fluent in languages other than English, which allows us to serve clients in a culturally reflective way.
Change Inc. heavily invests in the professional development of its’ staff. Therapists at Change Clinic have the opportunity to take part in different trainings which expands our range of services and expands to whom we can offer them to. Many clinicians have specialties and trainings in particular areas that are in high demand. For example, many clinicians staffed at Change Inc. and through the Co-op are trained in IFS (Internal Family Systems).
Another way clinicians get in front of different audiences is by being trained in different modalities that people are searching for online including EMDR, CBT, and Brainspotting, among others. Once a clinician is trained in a specialty such as those previously mentioned, they have the opportunity to put themselves on a “contact list” for clinicians that have that specific training. This can further Change Clinic’s reach and can expand services to more people in the community.
Along with expanding who we offer services to, Change Clinic has also been working to increase the range of services offered. The main forms of therapy include talk therapy and play therapy. In addition to building up our outpatient program, Change Clinic is also building up our DC: 0-5 program, which is therapy for children under the age of five. Specific modalities offered via clinicians at Change Clinic include trauma-informed, TF-CBT, IFS, Brainspotting, and EMDR for individuals, couples, and families.
Removing barriers to mental health services is the greatest need Change Clinic hopes to help solve. This means quicker access to service for community members, and for some people, simply having access to service at all. We are excited to continue growing and help fill the need for mental support.
To find more information about Change Clinic or to inquire about services, visit https://www.thechangeinc.org/csc.
Educating Our Future Therapists: How Change Institute Removes Barriers and Facilitates Educational Courses for Students, Therapists, Teachers, and Other Service Providers
Since its’ inception in 1993, Change Inc. has invested in community solutions to systemic problems and the development of a diverse workforce to heal trauma of children and families. This remains core to our work and lives today, post-merger, in our Change Institute.
The Change Institute brings healing, teaching, and advocacy together to look at influencing systems change and approaching sustainability. In addition, Change Institute works to prepare and support caring adults within our community to best meet mental health needs for children, adults, families, and communities.
Inside the Institute:
Change Inc.’s mission is focused on utilizing the power of relationships and community to create educational, training, and healing opportunities for people so that they can achieve their highest ambitions. With the support of the Change Institute, Change Inc. can provide courses throughout the year to students, interns, therapists, teachers, and others to help them grow their knowledge and understanding of mental health and social cultural concerns.
The Change Institute fits into Change Inc.’s overall mission by providing trainings on-site and in the community for therapists, teachers, and other service providers, focusing on social emotional and mental health. Additionally, Change Institute works with employees and contractors to provide clinical supervision and case consultation hours to move towards licensure. One of Change Institute’s main goals is to remove barriers to the path of a career in mental health for those in our community.
Someone who knows all about the road to becoming a mental health professional is Nick Krause. Nick is a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and Change Institute’s Training Coordinator. Together, he and Jennifer Garrido Santos, Director of Training, Supervision, and Consultation, work to create and facilitate all of the trainings and coordinate with other trainers to decide not only how they want to train Change Inc.’s staff, but also what trainings to provide to outside agencies and students.
In keeping with the mission of Change Inc., it is important to provide the community with culturally sensitive support, education, and knowledge, as well as support BIPOC and LGBTQ+ therapists. Change Institute provides various scholarship opportunities to members of these communities to be able to help lift barriers from education and trainings. This aims to help produce more diverse therapists which, in turn, can provide more diverse services to different communities.
The Change Institute provides many culturally-specific trainings as well, such as the “From Race to Culture” supervision course, slated to take place in 2023. This is a course specific to the cultural component of being a supervisor.
While many of Change Institute’s trainings are geared towards LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists), it also aims to expand its’ audience to LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors) and LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers). It is the Change Institute’s intention to provide trainings for everyone in the mental health field, not just one branch of the field.
Change Institute has been facilitating the Clinical Supervision course for close to a decade. However, in the last three years has there been a bigger push to be more intentional in the trainings they provide to hopefully have not only a place in the world of mental health, but possibly one day in academia to help advance the field of therapy.
Other courses are normally offered monthly on a variety of subjects ranging from suicide prevention to eating disorders to the relational diagnostic assessment. Change Inc. lends staff member expertise to multiple community initiatives where they are not the host or ‘owner’ of the group, but provide a key role as advisor or developer. While these projects take on many different shapes, they are core to our value and core foundation of living in community.
The Change Institute also holds space for new ideas to develop into a plan. This allows room for innovations in programming, service design, outcome measurements, and impact. At any given point in time, there may be zero or 10 projects living in this space.
Many of the upcoming courses being offered are geared towards therapists, whether that be internally within Change Inc., or external therapists and students. However, the goal is to broaden the audiences that can benefit from the trainings and courses provided by Change Institute. Future targeted audiences include teachers, mental health staff at other agencies, parent and parent psychoeducation groups, and community psychoeducation events. Change Institute hopes to one day work with a variety of different communities and provide trainings for what those specific communities’ needs are.
There’s something that sets Change Institute apart from other educational offerings, and that would be its’ intentionality. Change Institute does not operate to make financial gain, rather, it cares deeply about its’ community and who is practicing mental health in the city and state as a whole. Change Institute wants to make sure therapists are providing the best care and that people outside of the therapy community are educated on mental health and social cultural concerns. It is driven by a mission and a worldview that it wants to share with the world and there is a targeted focus to make sure the community is provided with the best care possible.
The overarching goals of the educational opportunities offered are to remove barriers for those preparing to become therapists, teachers, and educators and to give them the tools they need to provide direct services to the community. There are so many great educators and providers out in the world working hard to do their job well, and Change Institute aims to make that easier for them. Whether that’s in terms of licensing or education requirements, paperwork, or other obstacles — Change Institute wants to remove these barriers. It also aims to make sure that there are ethical and culturally competent therapists working in our communities. If Change Institute can provide support and training to benefit these providers, then they will have succeeded.
Change Institute would not exist without all of the hard work done by Change Inc. before it.
While the Change Institute on its’ own is still very much in its’ infancy, it is hoped that one day it can grow to be a well-known institution that provides support and removes barriers to education in its’ community.
The Bridge Builders MFT National Exam Study Workshop started October 1st and will run virtually on Saturdays through October 22nd. This workshop will be hosted by Ana Lewis (M.A., LMFT, State Approved Supervisor), David Hesse (M.A., LMFT, State Approved Supervisor), Jennifer Garrido Santos (M.A., LMFT, LICSW, State Approved Supervisor), Jody Nelson (Ed.D., LMFT, State Approved Supervisor) and Sue Schroeder (M.A., LMFT). This class is based on the work of Mark Anderson and his Bridge Builders classes. The workshop will address how the exam is written, ethical and social-cultural factors related to the exam, and how to study for the exam. With registration, participants will also receive a digital binder filled with everything they need to know for the exam, including all theoretical models and their theorists. This study workshop is LMFT-specific.
The Change Institute, in partnership with Relationships LLC. and Both/And Resources, is also hosting a Clinical Supervision Course running virtually on Mondays from October 10th through December 5th. This course will be facilitated by Bruce Minor (M.A., LMFT), Jennifer Garrido Santos (M.A., LMFT, LICSW), Jody Nelson (Ed.D., LMFT), Joe Reid (Ph.D., LMFT, and Lisa Xiong (M.A., LMFT). Topics will include ethics in supervision, supervision in diverse communities, power and privilege in supervision, self-of-the therapist/supervisor, awareness of relational patterns, and solution-focused problem-solving. The Clinical Supervision Course is open to LMFT, LPCC, and LICSW.