Brookside Intensive Treatment Unit Interviews

Interview w/ Valerie Kingsley, Clinical Coordinator at Brookside

Name: Valerie Kingsley
Title: Clinical Coordinator
Campus: Brookside ITU
Previous Position: Clinician
Year Started: 2015

What does a Clinical Coordinator do? 
The Clinical Coordinator overseas the clinicians on campus. I’m responsible for meeting with them every week and doing supervision. I’m also responsible for the oversight of documentation, making sure it gets done on time and that it meets the criteria for our licensures, things of that nature. I do a lot of oversight in regards to therapy styles, so if there’s any issues that come up in therapy, [I’m] educating, coaching, problem solving, things like that.

Do you still have a caseload? 
I do, actually. Right now I have a caseload of 6 students.

When did you transition to clinical coordinator?
Mid-June.

So it’s new. 
It’s very new.

How did you learn about the position? 
Chris Smith (Senior Vice President) came up to me. So I’ve always wanted to progress. I love this company and this agency and I’ve always said I want to make sure I’m doing what I need to do to make sure that I’m moving up. And with the new Program Director moving into her spot, and the Assistant Program Director moving into her spot. And then we got a new Residential Coordinator. So the admin team as a whole was new. Chris just felt like it would be a good opportunity for me to start now, learn as I go, and grow with the team instead of coming in later and trying to find my position. After talking with him for a while, it kind of gave me the boost that I needed to go for it and see what I can do. 

What appealed to you about the clinician job when you originally saw it? 
I was actually working two jobs at the time just to make it work and I was stressed. It was a lot. I didn’t like my second job. I just wanted one job that I could dedicate my life to and kind of grow in. So I was looking under Berkshire Jobs one day and I just saw “Clinician.” And I honestly had never heard of Hillcrest until then. So I was like, “Okay, we’ll give it a shot.” I interviewed and I loved the dynamic that I saw already just from the interview, the way that the staff interacted with the kids, the way that it just felt more like a team. At my other jobs, I’d stopped asking questions. People were coming to me for questions. I wasn’t in a team setting and I didn’t feel like I was growing professionally either. So to have that completely different feel was huge for me. And I really love working with kids and at the time I was working with adults so being able to switch over to working with kids was much better for me. 

What are the happiest or most rewarding moments working here?There are so many. It’s the little things. Actually, one of my favorite things is talking to students individually and then hearing them repeat what I say in their social environment, with their peers. Those little tidbits, it’s like, “Okay, you are listening to me. You are picking it up.” When they’re encouraging another student and it’s your words.

It could be like, “You are what you take in. So if you’re taking in all these negative vibes and these negative thoughts, then you’re going to present yourself as negative. You’re not going to be able to feel good about yourself.” To hear this, it’s like okay, I am doing something. You are listening to me. 

What’s the hardest part of your job?
Kids when they get bad news. That’s the worst. So part of it is giving the bad news, if I have to. And then the other part is sitting with a kid after they’ve just received the bad news. And knowing that it’s nothing that you did, it’s not your fault. It might be outside resources, it might be family, it might be inconsistency with workers. But just being able to sit there with them and not be able to support them in any way other than just being present. That’s very heartbreaking, very frustrating. 

Who is the most influential person in your work life right now? 
Melissa Orazio and Jess Mooney (Brookside’s Program Director and Assistant Program Director). They’re such outgoing professionals and the confidence that they have in a meeting or just in general is very inspiring. Melissa used to supervise me and I used to think, “I want to be like her. I want to be able to say whatever I’m thinking and be able to back it up like she does.”

She’s quick to respond and she has all this knowledge to back up her reasoning. “No, that’s not a good idea and this is why.” She doesn’t have to take time to think about all the different possibilities. She’s already got it in her head. She’s just going. And I would say that both of them have that presentation that I would love to have. 

What surprised you the most about working at Hillcrest? 
I guess I would say the team aspect of it. So I did work direct care for another agency at one point and then I was working outpatient with adults. When I came here, I just had all these, “I gotta do this, I’m on my own for this, I’m on my own for that.” And it really is a team. I don’t make any decision without asking all the different members of the team first. Although that’s a great thing, it was surprising for me and it was definitely a change in mindset that I had to make. 

Do you have any advice for new clinicians?
It’s definitely a difficult job. You do get put in some pretty difficult situations. When kids confide in you about things and then you have to report it. Dealing with some difficult workers or parents or things of that nature, you really have to be professional. But I would say that if you’re going to do this job, make sure that you’re dedicated to it. The students here all their lives have been let down and have suffered a lot of trauma and inconsistency with just about everybody in their lives. So for a lot of our students, coming here is a stabilizing thing because we’re consistent. We’re always here, we’re not going anywhere, we’re not promising them all these things and then not following through. I would really say that you need to be dedicated to the students because that’s our number one priority. 

And then what kind of person do you think succeeds as a clinician?
An outgoing one and a consistent one. And like I said before, follow through on what you say you’re going to do. And always being there to support the kids. It really does help to be outgoing. The kids really do appreciate when somebody can be silly or foolish. They’re kids! And for most of them, they’ve never had the opportunity to just be silly or goofy. So being able to dance while you’re in the DBT group and just being able to smile is huge. 

Do you have any favorite stories of the students?
So I had a student that when she came in she, she had this tough exterior. Like nobody was going to get through. I remember a meeting that I had, it was in the first week that she was here. Her worker came in to check in with her and I came in to sit down with her. She puts her feet up on the table, she sits back with her arms crossed, and she says tells this worker how she doesn’t like me and how she needs a new clinician and how she’s never going to work with me. I mean we stuck together and we stuck through it and a year and a half later, she’s presenting at an international conference with our Program Director and Assistant Program Director and talking about how much I helped her and how she’s so glad I didn’t give up on her. That was huge. She’s a great kid. 

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****This interview has been lightly edited and condensed*******

Want to work with kids in Hillcrest’s clinical department? Check out our job openings


Don’t forget to check out Rachene Crump’s interview.

2 comments on “Interview w/ Valerie Kingsley, Clinical Coordinator at Brookside

  1. Pingback: Interview w/ Al Adams, Lead Cook at Hillcrest Academy – Hillcrest Educational Foundation

  2. Pingback: Interview w/ Deborah Salmon, Senior Supervisor at ASD Residential – Hillcrest Educational Foundation

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