Many youth who come to KVC Hospitals have experienced disruptions to their brain development. They struggle with anxiety, depression, traumatic stress, childhood adversity, thoughts of suicide or other mental and behavioral challenges. In order to help youth heal and build a healthy brain, KVC Hospitals created the Learning Lab. This experiential learning center is a space where youth can have fun, feel comfortable and learn about brain strengthening and emotion regulation skills. Mr. Adam is an Activities Coordinator who facilitates group sessions in the Learning Lab. In this interview, Adam explains how learning about emotions and using virtual reality in behavioral therapy helps the children and teens.
Watch this video to learn more about the Learning Lab.
Q: How does your role as an Activities Coordinator help children and teens at KVC Hospitals?
Adam: I teach emotion regulation drills which are activities where we work on things like breathing, body awareness, trust and refocusing. I lead a Be Safe Group and facilitate virtual reality (VR) sessions in the Learning Lab where youth can use a VR headset and hand controls to create art or a scene where they feel safe. Through these groups, clients have the chance to learn about what triggers them and what emotions they might feel when they become angry or frustrated. With the emotion regulation drills, they are able to develop the skills to create a safer environment for themselves and others.
The kids have really seemed to grasp what’s going on in the Learning Lab. I have clients that are regularly able to recite the Emotion Regulation Station, remember different parts of the brain, and have a positive experience in the Learning Lab.
These groups teach youth things that they might not have had the opportunity to learn before. The clients are able to learn that they are not the only ones to feel the way that they are feeling, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We work together to build a great foundation for good decisions and healthy choices.
Q: What do you wish people knew about your role and its impact on kids?
Adam: I hope people understand that for clients who come to KVC for treatment, it might feel scary, disheartening or frustrating because they are going through the hardest time of their lives. While they are here, I’m able to facilitate a group or virtual reality session where they can smile, share a positive memory, or retain skills that are taught in the Learning Lab. I know that KVC and the services provided are doing something very special for youth to heal and grow.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Adam: I find all of the elements of my job rewarding, but I love when I can facilitate a group and we talk about emotion regulation, the brain, or a way to be safe. Clients get that ‘aha’ moment where something I’m teaching just makes sense. Things have clicked and they understand. That’s very rewarding when the kids are learning.
I feel very privileged to have the experiences that I’ve had here at KVC; not only to lead, teach and help young people, but also for the positive experiences that I’ve had the fortune to gain and be a part of myself.
Q: Any advice for the youth that you work with?
Adam: The skills they learn while at KVC are so important. I hope they practice the emotion regulation skills and keep an open mind. Growth doesn’t happen overnight, but it can work if you let it. Practicing helps these healthy skills to become a habit. And that habit of safety can lead to so many open doors.
Mr. Adam is just one of the many caring employees who work at KVC Hospitals. We’re always in need of compassionate people to join our team. If you are interested in a career in behavioral health, browse the open positions on our careers page.