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Creating the next generation of trauma-informed professionals

The value of a strong student practicum program

By:  Kristian Partington

Teaching students a trauma-informed approach to addressing mental health issues and helping them discover how wellness in mind, body and spirit helps build resilience is key to reshaping the field of children’s mental health. That’s why a strong student practicum program is so important to the team at kidsLINK.

The students kidsLINK seeks have an interest in seeing the strengths and capabilities within people, and the ability to see the symptoms of mental health issues as ways of managing difficult situations, not behaviours that must be corrected, says the director who oversees the student practicum program.

“We also look for students who are open to learning the possibilities that are created through a treatment process that combines mental health practices with other important life factors,” says Kevin Clouthier, director of early intervention and professional services.

“These might include the influence of good diet upon wellness and the importance of play, laughter and feeling valued and valuing others.”

Clouthier says being able to impart upon students the kidsLINK philosophy of inspiring the children and families it serves to choose wellness, build resilience and heal from trauma will serve to further entrench these principles in the changing field of children’s mental health.

This comes first through aligned values with educational institutions, and then through a rigorous interview process that helps the team identify students whose values and determination will fit within the organization.

“We do want to nurture strong relationships with schools that share similar values about the manner in which we view people — the importance of a holistic view of people, as well as the role that trauma has in development, how resilience represents protective factors to promote wellness and finally, how mind, body and spirit work collaboratively to constitute the personhood of the individual,” says Kevin.

“Ultimately, we regard learning as the responsibility of the student while it is our role to create conditions and opportunities that encourage students be active collaborators in the developing learning.”

Students envision their ideal learning outcomes and it’s their responsibility to make that vision a reality, under the close watch of the kidsLINK team.

“Our goal is to provide students with the type of support that they require that allows them to push their personal limits within the safety that is built around them,” Kevin says.

The ideal hope is these students — whether their future is with kidsLINK or not — will carry forward in their careers their understanding of a strengths-based approach to support.

“The student would be so invested in their experience of the wellness, resilience, trauma-informed approach that they would achieve phenomenal success with clients in their workplace,” Kevin says.

“In turn, their success would generate interest by their colleagues so that others would explore this method of collaboratively working with clients.  This sort of transformation of the field would be the best case scenario.

“In the end, it is about creating professionals who will provide clients with the resources to choose their own path to wellness.  That’s the reward.

If you have questions, comments or a story to share, please contact 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)

Kristian Partington

Axiom News
705-741-4421 ext. 24

800-294-0051 ext. 24

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