A Personal Mission

A Personal Mission: Shannon Grave, In-Home Family Therapy, Clinical Supervisor, Moorhead

When Village therapist Shannon Graves’ son was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, she made it her personal mission to not only help her own child, but to serve other families affected by the condition.

As a clinical supervisor, she collaborates with other Village counselors as they seek optimal treatment for specific cases. Because autism spectrum disorders have such a wide range of symptoms and effects, Grave says, this type of collaboration is very useful.

“Often counselors will bring cases to the table, tell us about the family and the child affected by the disorder, and then we problem solve,” Grave says. “So few mental health people work with kids on the spectrum, and there’s a big need.”

While Grave doesn’t directly see patients anymore, she says she finds great satisfaction in helping other clinicians find solutions. Each situation with children who have a spectrum disorder is different, and she says being able to assist clinicians with finding custom-fit solutions can be a challenge.

“One little boy was behaving aggressively toward his parents. He was also sleeping as little a three hours a night,” Grave says. “At times, the boy would not stay in his car seat. He would get out and start assaulting his mother and father.”

Clearly, an intervention was needed, so Grave consulted with the clinician and together they applied certain philosophies to the case and a solution was found.

“When the little boy would start wriggling in his car seat, the therapist coached the mom to pull over and keep him in his car seat. They did this over and over, very calmly but firmly,” Grave says.

Just a few months later, the parents say they are now equipped with the knowledge and resources to better respond to their child’s behavioral needs.

Grave recalls another case in which a four-year-old girl was still wearing diapers. The family was very worried that she would never be potty trained. But Grave felt differently, and worked with the family’s counselor to create special steps they could apply to slowly toilet train the child.

“We used a flip video with the parents to show the girl how to potty. Then the parents coached the child through each step,” Grave says. “After a while, the girl would watch the video and then go to the bathroom to sit on the potty.”

The family continues to use the video to teach the child about using the bathroom.

Grave says she misses working directly with patients, but knowing her expertise helps other clinicians find adequate solutions for clients dealing with autism spectrum disorders keeps her motivated.

“Since I’ve become a supervisor, it’s been hard to give cases to someone else. I’ve learned that someone else can do it and it will be good. It is so neat cultivating those skills in someone else, especially someone who is as passionate about the work as I am,” Grave says.

There are plenty of passionate counselors working at the Village, and the reputation and ethical standards of The Village are just a couple of reasons Grave takes pride in working here. She says she is thankful for the generosity and wisdom of those who contribute to The Village.

“No matter how many stories we can tell, you will never know just how much good you have done,” Grave says.

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