Individual and Family Therapists from Orion Family Services Bring New Programs to Community

Orion therapists Kelly and Caceres-Turcios

Recognizing the increased need for mental health services, a well-known and acclaimed health screening program in Wisconsin, Nurse Disrupted, is expanding its services to include behavioral health support and is partnering with Orion Family Services — based in Madison — to provide this service at the local Salvation Army’s Women’s Shelter and Family Shelter.

Nurse Disrupted began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a local nurse and self-identified “technology nerd,” Bre Loughlin, recognized that underserved members of our community were being left behind and set out to respond to this need. She founded Nurse Disrupted and partnered with The Salvation Army of Dane County, Wisconsin (TSA) to provide video COVID screenings at Madison area homeless shelters. Today, Nurse Disrupted has more than 300 nurses providing quality healthcare at numerous locations across Wisconsin while continuing their commitment to facilitate access to healthcare for underserved and marginalized communities.

As part of the new partnership, in 2022, Orion Family Services launched a new program providing behavioral health services at the Women’s Shelter. In March of 2023, it began preparations to expand these services to include the Family Shelter.

Lauren Kelly

Lauren Kelly LCSW, an Orion individual and family therapist, recently reflected meeting with one woman from the shelter. “I am blown away by the woman I talked with tonight… and her resilience from everything she’s been through,” Kelly said. “I feel very lucky I got to witness her story and show up as a therapist for these women.”

Scheduled services are provided in-person. In early June, Orion expanded the service at both shelters to include drop-in counseling via a walk-up video kiosk. With the push of a button, guests can connect with an Orion therapist who is ready to provide needed support.

New Latinx Student Outreach

As a bicultural, bilingual therapist, Alice Caceres-Turcios MSW, APSW — an Orion individual and family therapist — has observed that many students of color do not have safe spaces to discuss their thoughts and feelings regarding their identity, particularly in predominantly white institutions (PWIs). Thus, she was excited when approached by FACE Kids to develop a curriculum for a Latinx Affinity group for middle schoolers. The curriculum provides a safe space for these students to foster a sense of belongingness, share feelings and thoughts as Latinx/Latine students, and learn coping skills to address social-emotional wellness.

This past spring, Caceres-Turcios co-facilitated the first Latinx Affinity Group meeting for sixth graders this past spring. Topics included discussions of identity as a Latinx/Latine** student, colorism, microaggressions, self-advocacy, and self-care. Students selected for this group identified not having a strong sense of belonging-ness and having experienced racial/ethnic trauma as students.

Alice Caceres-Turcios

According to Caceres-Turcios, one student, Mary*, struggled at first, as she sometimes would not share with the group, and at times became disruptive. Mary once was asked leave the group due to her behavior. However, as the group progressed, students began sharing experiences of bullying and microaggressions in their school and home environments. Mary began to feel more comfortable, sharing her own experiences and being able to verbally empathize with other group members. Throughout the group meetings, Mary asked questions when new vocabulary was introduced and began to share in discussion more often. Mary was excited to help plan the final group session, and volunteered to bring foods that are a part of Latinx/Latine culture.

“It was amazing being able to see everyone in the group, especially Mary, have an increased pride in their identity as Latinx/Latine students,” said Caceres-Turcios.

After the group ended, Caceres-Turcios received feedback from the school co-facilitator that school staff have noticed an increase in Mary’s self-confidence, and willingness to work with new groups, and make new friends.

*Name changed for privacy

**Editor’s Note: For some people, “Latine” is an unfamiliar word. According to the Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, retired executive minister for the UCC’s Justice and Witness MInistries, Latine is a commonly used phrase that originated in Latin America. It is intended to be inclusive of all. The singular Latine is easily expanded to the plural Latines. It also is important to note that siblings from Latin America most often identify with their nationality, e.g., Mejicanos, Guatemaltecos, Chilenos, etc.

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