(Posted 2023 September)
Position: Licensed Professional Counselor, Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Fairfax County, Department of Family Services
I help kids be kids after trauma. I’ve been with Fairfax County for 10 years, and I’ve been licensed and in my position that whole time. I do individual counseling, primarily with children. We offer up to 10 individual sessions at no charge for families who have experienced family conflict, domestic violence, sexual violence--by a stranger or someone they knew—stalking, and human trafficking. With children we primarily work on healthy relationships, exposure to violence, what they saw and processing that, feelings, identification, coping skills, and really getting back to a new normal and functioning in a way that they can be kids.
My background is I have a bachelor’s in psychology and a masters in clinical counseling. I’m licensed as well in the state of Virginia. I started my counseling career at a teen shelter and then did a stint at the community services board in a neighboring county. I’ve had some time at nonprofits as well. In addition to working here, I also have a private practice.
My job is a privilege. The most rewarding aspect of my work is we get connected with families at one of the lowest points in their lives, and we have the privilege of helping them piece that back together in a way they want, in a way that gives them their strength and rebuilds the confidence and independence that has been stripped from them. We get the joy of seeing kids learn they are OK and not alone and all the skills they need to be healthy adults and recover from the traumas they’ve experienced. So that journey for families; it’s a privilege getting to do that at no cost so there’s no undue burden that makes it accessible to all families in our community.
The Department of Family Services is my “home” for several reasons. I began working with DFS to have the opportunity to do pre-counseling for clients. I grew up in Fairfax County, so I like being able to serve a community that was so important and valuable to me. I really have loved the environment in my office--the huge range of clinicians we have from all different backgrounds and trainings, different perspectives. And just the supportive community where our continued growth and training is really valued. We’re seen as individuals even though we’re here working as a team and for the same mission.
I recommend this career experience for others. I think this is a wonderful position and office for others to choose to work here to get the direct service contact with clients, to be able to see clients succeed and grow. This on top of the benefits and work-life balance. We are able to have flexibility and make our own schedule as far as when we schedule clients.
My children are my world. I have children, so my hobby is being a mom! I also like to craft and travel and garden. But mostly, I spend my time away from the office being a mom.
We all need a mouse in our house! A fun fact about me is that I have been to Disney World almost every single year of my life. My mom worked for an airline and my grandparents lived in Florida. So, it’s something that’s near and dear to my heart and something I’ve tried to give to my kids as well.
Get to know more about Sarah through this video spotlight.
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