Job Title: Residential Counselor
Type of Company: This organization houses pregnant and parenting teen girls who would otherwise be homeless or in unhealthy housing situations. This programs works to provide these young mothers with parenting and life skills such as budgeting, time management, emotions management, and household skills (cooking, cleaning, etc.). The goal of this program is to give these mothers the skills needed to manage an independent living environment upon leaving the program.
Education: BA, Eastern Nazarene College (Quincy, MA) MA, Counselor Education, Bridgewater State College (Bridgewater, MA)
Previous Experience: I worked for a residential program for mentally ill adolescents for three years prior to taking my current job. i also provided childcare on a full-time basis for two years.
Job Tasks: My responsibilities at work include developing service plans for each mother and child in the program, teaching life skills classes, and weekly individual guidance counseling with each resident.
Service plans consist of the goals that each mother and child will be working toward while in our program. Goals for mothers are attending school, typically, or obtaining employment, or getting a license, keeping up-to-date on her children's education, or taking care of the medical and dental needs for herself and her child. For the children, goals include crawling, eating solid foods, etc.
Life skills classes focus on areas of budgeting, nutrition, landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities, STD and birth control education, healthy relationships, etc.
Weekly guidance counseling meetings are meant to help each resident with her personal goals. These goals may include working toward the type of parent she wants to be, working on family relationships, or other areas of personal growth that may not be common goals with other mothers in the program. Girls also work on some of the other problems in their lives, including multi-tasking, emotions management, the development and implementation of boundaries and decision-making skills.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is helping young mothers succeed in life and take pride in their ability as parents. The most difficult part of my job is working with mothers who are resistant to the program and leave prematurely or in a way that is not good for themselves or their child. It is often hard for teen parents to be given education, guidance and supervision as they are trying to parent.
1. Educate yourself in child development.
2. Have a strong sense of who you are and that you are valuable. When the moms are upset, you are the safe person to take anger out on because you will not walk away. So be prepared to have hurtful things said to you.
3. Be nurturing. Each mother and child in the program is of high value, and each one of them needs to hear that and be reminded of that constantly.
Additional Thoughts: Working with individuals in such a personal setting can leave you feeling that it is your life. Remember to attend to your life, family and personal interests. Be 100% at work, and 100% outside of work.
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