I was placed this summer at a transitional housing program run by Families First, which is based in Atlanta, Ga. The program is designed to facilitate a family's transition from homelessness into a supportive community. It provides on-site counseling for individuals and families, as well as after-care group addiction counseling for residents in the maintenance phase of their addiction recovery. My responsibilities included observing intake interviews with prospective residents, observing group counseling sessions, and attending monthly administrative meetings where all of the housing programs in Families First's supportive housing unit convened to exhibit their recent successes and setbacks and to make plans for the coming month.
One of the many gratifying lessons I learned was ways to resolve conflict within an administrative system and also between an administrative system and their clientele. Families First faced many difficult situations regarding the nature, structure and effectiveness of their program. Were they achieving their goals? There were primarily two concepts underlying the conflict they faced: (1) the standards by which to measure the effectiveness of a transitional housing program, and (2) the most effective way for such a program to deliver services. If readers believe as I do that working for a transitional housing program is among the most worthwhile lines of work one can pursue, then I think there are scarcely two more worthwhile concepts to discuss.
I think there are several ways conflict and its resolution can be a valuable component of the policymaking process, such as the way it denotes passion about and commitment to a project, or the way in which it indicates that a relationship has developed to a point where one might re-examine standing issues.
I wish I could put into just a thousand words what my summer with Families First means to me, how it has educated me, how it has shown me flashes of what my future could look like. I am a psychology major with an interest in counseling psychology and I want to make a career in family and teen therapy. Much of my summer I spent synthesizing what I have learned in the classroom with field experience. I can say that my passion for what I want to do has been augmented with a sense of what is possible, and that my sense of calling to the counseling field has been galvanized into an active current.