Brie Jordan-Cooley, LCSW, RPT has been at ChildSavers for about three years and we are incredibly thankful to have her as an outpatient therapist. She radiates positivity, always brings new ideas to the table, and is adored by her clients and colleagues alike.
A generous grant from the Virginia Health Care Foundation made it possible to hire such a valuable community member as a mental health clinician. VHCF’s commitment to community is what makes our work possible so dedicated and talented mental health professionals, like Brie, can reach those who need them most.
Our Outpatient Program Supervisor, Stephanie Hammerk says, “Brie can be counted on to be true to the person she is. She’s passionate about social justice and a fierce advocate for her clients. Whether it’s attending IEP meetings, participating in ad-hoc committees, or ensuring that all clients have access to a garden, Brie strives for fairness and equity. She’s also incredibly helpful and selfless. She is the first to volunteer for events, is always ready to lend a hand, and can be counted on to do her part!”
Thank you for your work and dedication to your clients, Brie!
Can you tell us a little bit about your life before ChildSavers?
That is a long and varied path. I originally went to school at Boston University to study Environmental Science because I was interested in environmental activism. At some point, I decided that I wanted to study political economy and theory. So, I ended up at Evergreen State College.
I grew up being very involved in the community – I’m from Church Hill. I went to school just a couple of blocks away from ChildSavers at Bellevue. So, even though I moved all the way across the country, I was drawn back to Richmond. Not only because it’s where I’m from but I felt like it was my responsibility to bring that knowledge back to the community.
I wanted to get more involved, so I got an internship with the Daily Planet and volunteered at Parks and Rec for Chimborazo Elementary. The case management and community engagement made me realize I needed to go back to school. I started my own painting business to fund my education.
When I graduated in 2010, I was providing care at a residential facility and had prior experience working as a one-to-one in the school system. I also worked at the Dooley School at Saint Joseph’s Villa, so I have a strong slant toward education. Eventually, I got a job at an intensive in-home agency and was an outpatient therapist at the Child Advocacy Center. I held parent and children’s support groups and lead trauma/mandated reporter training.
What drew you to ChildSavers?
For one, it’s proximity. It’s so close to where I live. If I’m providing services, I think it’s very important for me to live here in order to understand what the specific needs are. I want to understand where my clients and their families are coming from. If I’m providing support and advocating for my clients, and encouraging them to advocate for themselves, then I need to know the right people to refer them to in our community. Having a pulse on that is important for me because I always find myself making the connection of community activism and engagement.
In addition, I appreciate the mission. I went to some of the first Train the Trainer meetings with John and it seemed like a really great next step. I was licensed and wanted to work towards becoming a registered play therapist, so it all made sense.
How has ChildSavers helped you grow?
Our staff has helped me and encouraged me to seek balance – professionally, personally, spiritually – the list goes on. We’re bombarded by a number of different stressors, particularly working in a profession where you’re holding a lot. As a clinician, I hold a lot for our clients and their families. So, in order for me to provide the best level of care and be present for them, I have to be very proactive in taking care of myself.
It’s also taught me to be open to feedback and the concept that we’re constantly evolving. As I’m evolving, my colleagues are appreciative of that and help me identify growth within myself. My coworkers are very attentive, even in the midst of having to also maintain balance within their own lives. I see ChildSavers as a multi-cellular organism. There are all of these different cells that have their own bodies but when they come together, they create an organism that’s reliant on all the present cells. Maybe more like a compound. Hydrogen, in order to make water, is nothing without oxygen.
What do you love most about working with your clients?
I think it’s more than working with just the client – it’s about working with the family. When I have a client come in, I tell the guardian that I rely on them. Without them, I cannot do my job. I see them as being strong and resilient, so I just want to help them build that.
I know that can be a lot to ask. But I love seeing the family strengthen and improve their communication with one another – even if they’re not using words. By seeing them interact in a healthy way and seek each other out, I know that they have gotten to a place where they can continue to grow. I appreciate working in a place where, in order to do my work, I’m not expected to use language that involves words. Our communications with our clients and their families are much more dynamic and eclectic. I appreciate that and being fully supported in that.
I love working with families because it brings me a great deal of joy to create a space where they can continue to see their own potential. To work together as a cohesive unit.