A Postcard From: Sierra Norman ’19

Thanks to the generous funding from Bryn Mawr College, I have had the opportunity this summer to participate in an internship at The Children’s Center, located in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sierra Norman standing outside of The Children's Center

The Children’s Center is a private, not-for-profit mental health clinic with a mission to provide “comprehensive mental health care to enhance the emotional well-being of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families.”  It is the largest agency of its kind and provides care to over 2,000 families a year, helping children under the age of seven to improve in managing their feelings, learning to play, making friends, and succeeding in school and at home. They provide affordable services and subsidize families in need with charitable funds.

The Children’s Center is a partner of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and provides evidence-based treatment to children and families exposed to traumatic events. Dr. Douglas Goldsmith is the executive director of The Children’s Center and has created widespread impact on the clinical application of attachment theory, to help heal parent-child relationships. He is nationally and internationally recognized as an expert in the field of attachment and trauma therapy.

My role at The Children’s Center is in their Therapeutic Preschool. The Children’s Center’s Therapeutic Preschool is intended for children who are struggling to succeed in childcare or preschool settings. It provides group therapy, in addition to individual therapy, to support improvement for specific behavioral goals. This program provides intensive, daily treatment, where the children can gain skills necessary to succeed in school, such as learning to listen to adults, manage their emotions, and play with peers. Class sizes are limited to nine students who have a wide range of emotional and behavioral health diagnoses (i.e. autism, hyperactivity, depression, and aggression) and traumatic experiences (i.e. domestic violence, abuse and/or neglect, refugee from war-torn countries, and parent(s) in the military that returned with PTSD).

I assist the therapeutic specialists in the morning with a class of 3-4 year olds and in the afternoon with a class of 4-5 year olds. I am able to be a part of the group therapy and assist in evaluating the student’s progress towards their individual goals. While I am not able to share specifics on my experience here, for confidentiality reasons, I can say that it has made a lasting impact on my life!

Helping others, especially children, has always been very important to me. I have dedicated time for over 10 years to serving my community through various projects impacting children. My long history of involvement with youth has provided me with unique experiences and allowed me to interact one-on-one with children from a variety of different backgrounds and situations. My time at The Children Center is further enriching my experiences and has only strengthened my desire to pursue a career as a pediatric psychiatrist.