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Helping Youth Recover from Trauma

Ray Anderson stands in front of a white wall painted with abstract shapes

Ray Anderson

Ray Anderson is passionate about the helping service field; so passionate, in fact, that she earned two master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota, one in Youth Development Leadership and one in Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH).

Educator. Trainer. Coach.

Ray Anderson stands in front of a white wall painted with one black stripes

Ray knew early on that she wanted to have a career in education, and after experiencing her own mental health issues as an undergraduate, she decided to focus on helping youth and adolescents. She also knew that to increase her career options, she should pursue (at least one!) master’s degree.

Ray worked full-time as a tutor and mentor for young people as a Promise Fellow with AmeriCorps and took her IBH courses in the evening. “That really helped, because the content in my position was so similar to the content in school that it lended itself to real-life experience beyond the classroom.”

Through AmeriCorp, Ray was introduced to the Miss Kendra Programs, the organization she continues to work through today. The Miss Kendra Programs is a social and emotional learning (SEL) program that helps schools proactively address the needs of their students. The program uses a public health approach to address toxic stress and trauma. It offers a curriculum, as well as access to clinicians like Ray, in K–12 settings.

"We get to see the students open up and be vulnerable in front of each other. It is so amazing."

Today, she is a trauma clinician and supervisor at a career and technical high school in Minnesota through the Miss Kendra Program. A self-proclaimed workaholic, Ray carves out time to coach two different youth gymnastics teams, which helps her find literal and figurative balance.

“I was a gymnast for 20 years,” she says. “(Coaching) is a big part of my self-care. Typically when it's not high school gymnastics season, I do it three days a week.”

The Most Rewarding Part of Her Job

Ray cofacilitates a social and emotional learning process group in her high school every day with each month having a different SEL subject. She says, “We get to see the students open up and be vulnerable in front of each other. It is so amazing… Seeing them help each other and realizing that their trauma has formed resilience rather than shame is really what keeps me coming back.”

The Big Takeaway from the IBH Program

Ray Anderson stands in front of a white wall painted with abstract shapes

“The role of trauma. I feel like when I started, the word trigger was such a scary word. Now I'm like, no, let's figure out your triggers so we can work through them. It was a very big shift in my perspective of mental health! I used to see treating mental health as solely coping mechanisms, (but my) theoretical orientation shifted and now I believe in identifying triggers and then providing psychoeducation around how those triggers are impacting the way we view your experiences. It was definitely later in the program—in both my position outside of school and getting deeper into prolonged exposure therapy—where I really had that shift.”

Memorable Experiences

Studying Abroad in Costa Rica: "It was very fascinating getting to see into another part of the world and how their systems deal with mental health. I felt like there was a lot more emphasis on relationships there (Costa Rica) than in the United States. We do so much more individualized work."

Dr. R. John Sutherland’s Courses: Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD (IBH 6041) and Trauma and Anxiety, Assessment and Treatment Intervention (IBH 6031)

Pro Tips for New IBH Students

  • Be curious. "Confront the uncomfortable. I was definitely an avoider in the beginning, which I think many of the individuals in the program are, which is so funny. And it wasn't until I leaned into that uncomfortableness that I really started to grow.”
  • Get to know the staff. "I grew up viewing teachers as authority, so I was always nervous developing relationships with staff, but it wasn't until I actually got close with the IBH staff that I felt really connected to the program.”

 

Ray is a recipient of the Ceil T. Victor and Mucke-Roff Scholarships.