Allison Mason, Psy.D. graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology with an emphasis in criminology from Northern Illinois University and graduated from Roosevelt University with a Master of Arts and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She is a licensed clinical psychologist in the State of Illinois and Indiana, and has worked in juvenile correctional facilities at both the county and state level as well as in group private practices. Dr. Mason currently is the director of training and mental health team leader at the Isaac Ray Center, Inc., which provides comprehensive mental health services for detained youth within the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. She also is an adjunct faculty member at Roosevelt University where she teaches graduate-level psychology courses.
What are the responsibilities of your current role?
"As the mental health team leader, I oversee and provide psychological services to a center comprised of 45 detained youth, and I supervise clinical staff. I provide mental health rounds, confinement assessments, crisis intervention, risk assessments, coordination of care with community service providers, on-call consultation for crisis situations, individual and group therapy, milieu therapy, and facilitate weekly multi-disciplinary treatment team meetings. As the director of training, I created and implemented a doctoral-level psychotherapy practicum and a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical psychology. In this role, I train future clinicians and provide individual and group supervision."
What is your favorite part of your current role?
"Every day is different. I love that I wear different 'hats' throughout the day: psychologist, supervisor, and consultant. Some days are frustrating and challenging, others are inspiring and rewarding. You never know what to expect working in a correctional setting. My favorite part is getting to know the youths; each of them has a unique story, and I am continually moved by their resilience, as many have been a victim of or a witness to violence. Helping them to learn healthy and adaptive coping skills, to stay off the streets, gives me hope that I have made a difference in someone's life."
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
"Every day I use the knowledge and clinical skills that I learned at Roosevelt University. Additionally, I find myself continually learning from my experiences with the youth at the detention center. They have given me just as much education as the best textbooks, if not more."
Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar role?
"Networking. Chicago may be a large city, but psychology is a small field. At the beginning of every class I teach, I have my students introduce themselves to each other. It may sound silly, but when I tell them that I learned of the position at the detention center from a former classmate, they realize the importance of networking with their peers."
Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner living in Chicago, Illinois. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of CraftKitsForKids.com and MichelleGuilbeau.com Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chicago, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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