Staff Spotlight: Kim Weeden
As an In-Home Therapist specializing in working with juveniles who are on probation, Kim has had her fair share of challenging and difficult cases, but she remains more committed than ever to helping our region’s youth.
“So many teenagers, especially the probation cases, are just waiting for adults to show up in their life, to be present and show them that they matter. Trying to help these teenagers isn’t just a job for me. It’s my passion and my life’s work,” said Kim.
While the average career span for a mobile therapist is around 2 years because of burnout, Kim has spent the last 11 years working as one. She meets with her clients in a variety of locations and outside of traditional working hours, like in the evenings and on weekends. Dependent upon where the client lives and their particular situation, Kim will meet with them at their home, in a coffee shop, at school etc.
Generally, juveniles end up on probation because they have either participated in or committed a crime. The crime can be a misdemeanor—like getting into a physical altercation with a classmate at school that resulted in the police being called, or it can be classified as a felony—like robbery, selling/or being caught with drugs. As a result of their actions, sometimes services get court ordered from the judge. Other times, probation officers and or other service providers will refer services to Wesley Spectrum to address related issues.
The juveniles that Kim works with come from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds; some live in inner-city neighborhoods like Homewood and Lincoln-Lemington and others are from suburbs like Mt. Lebanon and Bethel Park.
“There is a big myth out there that only teenagers who live in the inner-city get into trouble and end up on probation and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s my job to assist them with completing their goals by coaching them to get off of and remain free of probation. Do they need to work on their anger and conflict-resolution skills? Or is it something else,” said Kim.
Because the juveniles Kim works with are sometimes mandated to receive In Home Family therapy the amount of time Kim works with any one of them can vary and is directly dependent upon the progress or the lack there of progress of the individual client and family. Sometimes services are court ordered. Sometimes Kim will work with a teenager for just a few months, while others have lasted over a year.
Additionally, Kim works closely with Allegheny County Juvenile Probation officers, and because of her success with clients over the years, the officers often refer many of the teenagers who come into the program to Kim. When she first gets a new client, she begins to join with them in effort to make them comfortable with her. Once Kim has joined most of the youth begin to open up. From Kim’s experience, many of the teenagers she has worked with who are on probation have had behavioral and mental health issues that have gone unaddressed for years and they are now at an age where it’s becoming more visible affecting their daily lives.
“I try to get to the root of what’s going on in their lives and how they’ve ended up in this position. For many of these teenagers, talking with a therapist is unchartered territory. I always try to get them to understand that mental health does not discriminates based on zip code, race, gender, or age,” she said.
When Kim’s clients successfully complete probation with her help, the time she has put in to working with them makes it all worth it.
“Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to see the tangible results of what I do every day but to know that I’ve truly made a difference in these teenagers’ lives is why I became a therapist,” said Kim.