Kristina Partridge has worked at Oaklawn for almost three years – but she’s been a part of the Oaklawn family for much longer.
She started as a volunteer for Camp Mariposa as a sophomore in college. She was studying psychology at IUSB and knew she wanted to work with young people. Camp Mariposa, at Oaklawn, a free weekend camp for youth who have been impacted by a loved one’s addiction, was a perfect fit.
There, she also made connections with Oaklawn staff that led to an internship during her master’s program, an administrative assistant job while she finished school and eventually her current position as a Child & Adolescent therapist. And, she’s still deeply involved in camp, now serving as its clinical director.
“I care so much about the kids,” she said. “I love that camp is something the kids come back to. Building relationships with those kids – it means a lot. I love facilitating the clinical groups and providing a space for these kids to share.”
Kristina has a lot of respect and compassion for the youth she serves – both at camp and in therapy. At camp, she strives to give kids as much freedom as possible. The youth may be dysregulated because of everything they deal with at home, so giving them the space to be kids is important. In her therapy practice, she goes to extra lengths to ensure youth have as much voice and autonomy as possible – understanding that many of her clients don’t voluntarily choose to be there. Plus, being a teenager is hard.
“Specifically with teenagers, I truly believe every day can be the worst part of your life,” she said, “because you don’t have all those positive experiences adults have to fall back on.”
Kristina’s practice is a mix of individual, family and group therapy. Most of her clients are in the 12-18-year-old range, though she has some as young as 7.
She says the most challenging part of her job is keeping boundaries when something in a therapy session hits home personally, and the most rewarding is when clients can see that she really understands them. As an organization, she appreciates Oaklawn’s leadership and the close-knit community among her team.
“We have that open door policy,” she said. “We can walk in anytime we need anything and check in, clinically or personally. I so value the rapport we have with each other. It’s a very friendly environment here.”