I am currently the director of substance abuse prevention and treatment services at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. I have had the privilege of working with the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership for the past 4 years. The HHYP is a partnership of youth-serving agencies that aim to prevent and reduce homelessness among youth and young adults through direct service, research, policy development, and training & capacity building. We also partnership with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to provide educational material including e-learning for no fee.
I’ve had the honor of meeting this panel of youth by facilitating harm reduction and DBT groups at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s KT House which provides transitional housing. I started a Resident Council there and provide ongoing consultation and training to their staff. Prior to that I worked for Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center and directed a crisis residential treatment facility for homeless and mentally ill adults. I have a long history of working in the field of mental health and addiction recovery and I think I have some information to pass along to increase capacity for better serving homeless and runaway youth (my first goal).
Perhaps more importantly, I’ve been in these fields for over 25 years, am myself in recovery from drugs and alcohol and have struggled with my fair share of depression and anxiety. I have gone from idealistic and passionate to cynical and bitter. My second goal today is to challenge all of you to prevent that from happening or at least reduce the effects of what some call “burn-out”, others call “compassion fatigue”, and most recently I’ve heard it called Trauma Exposure Response. I’ll be using a lot of information I gleaned from training presented by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky and her book on Trauma Stewardship to challenge providers to focus on taking better care of ourselves while caring for others.