ANGOLA – Post-high school plans are on every senior’s mind with graduation just three months away.
Last week, Angola High School seniors met with Bowen Center employees as part of a job shadowing program for Angola High School.
Bowen Center is a community mental health center offering a full range of professional services to meet the needs of individuals in Indiana and has a clinic in Angola.
The group began by discussing the different types of psychology they can study and the different areas they could go into with a psychology degree.
“What did you wish you could say to your younger self when you were just starting out?” asked Alyssa Desharnais, a high school student from Angola.
After graduation, Desharnais plans to study music therapy at a university of her choice.
Every Bowen Center employee in the room had their own advice for Desharnais.
“No day is ever the same,” Bowen Center therapist Megan Garn said.
“Throw away your plan,” said Tayler Johnson, head of clinical oversight at the Bowen Center.
“You need to have a good self-care routine,” said Bowen Center therapist Chelsea Friend.
“Go to therapy several times to find out what you are getting into. See what you liked and hated about the sessions,” Johnson said.
The last tip was from Garn. “Know that your job is not to fix them. Your job is to help them,” she said.
Anna Arnold, a former MSD science teacher and Bowen Center therapist, prefers using toys to help her young clients feel more comfortable talking.
“They tend to talk more when they’re not looking at you,” Arnold said.
Steuben County Bowen Center director Alicia Johnson said the idea of having her team shadow students at work began after attending a community board meeting last summer. Angolan high school principal Travis Heavin attended the meeting to discuss career exploration.
“It’s never too early for students to explore what they want to do,” Johnson said.
The Bowen Center recently began partnering with the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County for cooperative education opportunities and internships.
Johnson noted that the Bowen Center is available to all Steuben County schools for crisis response.
“We want to stay connected to all schools,” Johnson said.
Johnson expanded by explaining that the Bowen Center is offering a student assistance program for two free counseling sessions for K-12 students at Steuben County MSD, Fremont Community Schools, Prairie Community Schools Heights and Hamilton Community Schools.
One of the Bowen Center’s skills coaches, Rebecca Hartman likes to use education through play.
Hartman explained that her background is elementary education.
Teach clients to “learn to better control their emotions and independent living skills,” Hartman said.
“Was having a teaching background helpful?” asked Desharnais.
“Teaching helped me learn classroom management,” Hartman said.
Hartman explained that she liked having the client’s diary.
“How do you help your patients keep their diary? asked Alicia Guerra, a high school student from Angola.
Guerra intends to study psychology graduates and wants to be a therapist.
“Journaling is for you. You can always pick up where you left off,” said Bowen Center skills coach Jessica Bates.
Bates said it was good to work on his own personal routine and schedule.
“You need to make sure your mental health and self-care are taken care of so you can take care of others,” Bates said.
“Your patients also want routine,” said Angelique Watkins, lead skills coach.
“We deal with a lot of zones and regulations. We code emotions with colors,” Hartman said.
Using the popular UNO card game is a favorite Hartman tool. She explained that UNO has all the colors they use for emotional codes and also provides a fun distraction. Each color is coded with “I feel” messages.
After playing a blue card at the UN, Desharnais said: “I’m sad to have to go to school after this.”