#SPOTLIGHTSUNDAY

Happy Sunday, everyone!

This week we are featuring Jeni McIntyre, the CSC’s newest therapist! I asked Jeni a few questions about her personal life, experience with the CSC, and her new job. We are so excited for you to finally meet Jeni!

How did you become involved in the CSC?

When I was in undergrad I was in Casey’s field class and she talked about volunteering at the center. I wanted to be a volunteer so I signed up and went to training. Then in my second semester of field in undergrad I was the advocacy intern here. I continued to volunteer as an on-call advocate through that time and continued while in grad school and after graduating (until accepting my job as the therapist).

What is the most rewarding thing about your job with the CSC?

There are a couple of things that I love about my job (really a billion but I will limit it to a couple). The first thing is being able to affirm kids thoughts and feelings. Almost every time a kid (or parent) is in my office they eventually tell me about something they feel or think but they’ve been afraid to share with anyone because they don’t think they should feel or think it or they are weird or bad or whatever. I get to assure them that what they are experiencing is okay, it’s normal, and they aren’t alone. Seeing the relief on their face (and in their bodies as they relax) is so rewarding. We all want to be accepted and they go from feeling like they aren’t normal to being okay and that’s amazing. The other thing that I love about my job is getting to see the strength of the kids I work with and how hard they fight to heal. These kids are amazing, beautiful, strong, resilient people but they never see it- I get to help them see it and watching that process is an incredible experience. I am in awe of them every day.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?

The most challenging part of my job is hearing really, really awful stuff sometimes. We tend to want to shy away from the hard stuff and part of my job is standing next to the kids while they confront it. I see the dark side of people and the pain they cause. It’s hard some days- I always remind myself if it’s hard for me how hard must it be for them and how lucky I am that they trust me enough, feel safe enough with me to let share their journey.

I heard that you do art therapy with some of the kids you serve. What do you think art provides for those kids?

I love art for tons and tons of reasons. Art can be relaxing. It can help cope with feelings, express feelings, express thoughts even when we don’t know what they are. It shows the progress being made in a way even the kids see it when they look at their art over time. It lets hidden things be expressed in a way that feels safer than speaking them out loud. It can build confidence. It allows them to be messy and be a kid and have fun when everything feels so heavy and overwhelming.

What is the number one place you wish to travel? Why?

I love to travel, and I have been to many places in my life. I think the one place that I really want to go is to the Galapagos Islands.  My husband is a scuba diver and they have amazing diving there and then the animals I want to see ALL the animals.

FUN FACTS ABOUT JENI:

-I have three sons, two still live at home (Brenden, Kivet, and Cade)

– I’m married to a pretty awesome guy (Jeremy) and St. Patrick’s Day is our anniversary! He works in IT at Wal-Mart.

-We live in Bella Vista.

-In our home we have three cats (I’m definitely a cat person!) and two dogs (who are very sweet) and two turtles.

-Our newest cat is working on training to be a therapy cat because I absolutely believe in the power of animals to help healing

-In my office I have one beautiful betta fish and a tiny little algae eater fish and I change my fish tank décor to match the holidays/seasons (kids love my fish)

-I’m slightly obsessed with many very nerdy things- like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, etc.

-I collect frogs

-I love to bake and make pretty awesome decorated sugar cookies

-My favorite must watch TV show is Criminal Minds

-I almost never read fiction books- I love reading research books, therapy books, etc.

-My favorite superhero (?) is Groot

-I cry at commercials, movies, books, shows, pretty much everything

-My best friend and I have been friends since High School (and we are old so that’s a long time- she’s older than me and I make sure she remembers!) and she works at the Springdale Animal Shelter where my last 3 animals have been adopted.