Gina Fucci, Clinician
Transitions can be full of optimism and hope around what is “to be;” they can also be a time of uncertainty and feeling somewhat adrift. Residents in Spring Lake Ranch’s Elliot House Program have gone through our main program at Cuttingsville and now, in our transitional program, collaborate with each other and staff to identify their next steps. They work toward shifting to greater independence, as well as moving toward their goals regarding wellness. Some go on toward higher education, some toward employment/careers, and others pursue a combination of both.
The Career Group, led by myself – a clinician, and Diane, a Case Manager, fosters building curiosity and awareness regarding what comes next. The first unit of the group centers around creating a vision of what the next step looks like for each individual. If a person states, “I want to get a job when I leave,” we ask them to expand on this. Will the job be full time? Do they want to work indoors or outdoors? Do they want to be in a city or more rural? Do they like being with people? The exercise goes on and shifts into areas of desired living space, hobbies to pursue, preferred climate and so on. Gradually, members can build a more specific idea of what their next steps could look like.
The next unit in the group focuses on identifying and planning a career path. Residents complete an “Interest Profile” online, and the results match their areas of interest to potential careers. Going forward, the participants can now research the careers they have identified as possibilities. Using an online data base, members complete a two-page document that describes various aspects of the careers they identified. This information includes work environment, nature of work, top skills/aptitudes, level of education/training, employment outlook, and possible earnings. The process helps members think through all aspects of potential careers, as well as examine if it could be a good match.
Once a career has been explored, the residents create a folder of job searches and then save this for future use. Members work to identify three people they can use as professional references, and learn about the process for requesting and saving references. Further steps include continuing to build tools with writing and editing of resumes and cover letters.
Leading the group, our main focus centers on matching resident interests to a potential career path. Our experience in job training and knowledge of the individuals allows us to share ideas and opportunities that they might not immediately realize. For many, this is their first-time job searching, or a return after a long break, and it can feel daunting. We encourage members to discuss ideas and concerns about next steps, and we all work together on breaking the process down into smaller, actionable chunks. The support the group provides helps decrease feelings of uncertainty and reframes the process into an opportunity full of possibilities! As Elliot House nears a year of programming, we look forward to continually implementing resources for these residents who are working to transition to greater independence.