Director of Clinical Services
The Children’s Center
Salt Lake City, Utah
About Children’s Center: The Children’s Center works with Utah families who have children under the age of 5 who are struggling with emotional or behavioral problems. Some parents decide on their own to seek help, others are referred by the Utah Department of Child and Family Services. The center offers three levels of service: outpatient sessions with children, parent-child group therapy, and a therapeutic preschool.
Her Job: Danielle Warthen, born and raised in the Salt Lake City area, has been with The Children’s Center for more than four years and is a certified professional counselor. Her job is a balance between clinical work and administration. She sees two to six clients each week, and she conducts meetings of the clinical staff, serving as the liaison between them and Executive Director Douglas Goldsmith.
Best Part of the Job: “All the different opportunities it brings me are really expanding my comfort zone. The large presentations, conducting trainings within the center; it’s all just really building my skills.”
Worst Part of the Job: “Sometimes, it feels like [the job is] the biggest piece of my life. It’s hard to balance self-care and personal interests, and, of course, working out.”
Memorable Moment: “I had a client who came to me after she recently emigrated from another country. This child’s mother was really struggling to understand and deal with her daughter’s confusing and intense emotions and behavior. We worked together almost every week for probably about nine months and puzzled through a number of perplexing and distressing issues, seeing slow, but sure, progress as the two started to understand and work better with each other.
At the end of treatment, this mother told me that a friend from her home country called her to get advice with her own child who was dealing with similar issues. I asked what my client told her friend. This mother’s response was a lovely reflection of the work she had done all those past months at being able to repair and keep intact her relationship with her own child. When I heard all the insightful and sensitive comments this mother proceeded to relate back to me, I realized what a far-reaching effect a renewed and repaired parent-child relationship has.”
Being a Young Boss: Most members of the clinical staff she directs are older than Warthen. “I think that somehow I’ve been able to finesse my position so it doesn’t feel like a power differential. I really just see myself as facilitator and a link to the executive director. The staff is open to feedback, and we all get along really well. It’s a pretty cohesive clinical group.”
Taking All Comers: The center’s policy is not to turn any child away, which can only be accomplished with a low profile. “We don’t really advertise overtly, or we’d be bombarded with intake,” Warthen said.
Worried for Nothing: Even when parents bring in children who exhibit no signs of concern – “it happens a lot of times,” Warthen said – “the perception by parents that there is a problem is a problem itself.” Sometimes with one appointment, “we can do a brief family therapy and really change the trajectory of a nascent problem.”
Medicaid Crunch: “Seventy percent of our funds come from Medicaid, so [Medicaid clients] are a big percentage of who we see,” Warthen said. “We have definitely” felt the impact of cuts in Medicaid, she said, at a time when “we have more children that need services, and we’re absolutely overwhelmed.”