Madeline Havrilla started her career in a laboratory, researching lung development in neonates. The work was interesting, but very isolating. She began searching for other scientific-related fields when she discovered genetic counseling – teaching people about their genes and how family history impacts wellbeing.
“The more I learned about it, the more I understood it wasn’t so much the science or the research, but the people who drew me in,” she said. “I decided I need something a little more social.”
She took a “leap of faith” and went back to grad school to become a therapist. She received her Master of Science in Education from IUSB and is now a licensed mental health counselor. At Oaklawn, she works as a Child & Adolescent therapist and has been here for about 3 ½ years, including a yearlong internship.
Her days are a mix of providing individual and group therapy. She tends to work with youth on the younger or older ends of the spectrum, 5- to 8-year-olds or 14- to 18-year-olds.
“I like the younger clients because I get to do so much work with parents. It’s the whole family system shifting and evolving. You have to put a lot of thought into that and I think that’s really nice when I can have parents say, ‘I understand now, I get what I need to do’ and how that can create change across the board,” she said. “The older clients are so eager and hungry to learn about themselves and the world, I just like challenging them and seeing the ways they think about things.”
She says the most rewarding part of the job is watching things click for her clients or seeing them come to a deeper awareness – of themselves, their change or how their actions impact their life or those around them. The most challenging part is staying emotionally vulnerable and mentally present, walking away at the end of the day even when things aren’t resolved.
“I have to work really hard at creating boundaries for myself mentally so I can go home and live my life and be present for the people that I care about,” she said.
In the midst of what can be challenging work, she’s grateful for a supportive team that’s there for each other. Whether it’s a question about paperwork or needing to chat for a moment between sessions, she knows she can rely on her colleagues.
“People here understand the value of caring about one another in just the simplest forms,” she said. “The people here matter more than just what kind of productivity they can produce or specialty they can bring. Those things matter – we’re still a business – but the supportive nature of the team really anchors me.”