Ann Marie Nelson

 Ann Marie Nelson

When did you begin working at CALM?

Aug 21, 2015

What is your role at CALM?

I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, North County Psychotherapist, and Medi-Cal Note Reviewer. I work under the Whatever It Takes (WIT) team in Lompoc and Santa Maria. I see children, adults, and families under IFRP (Family Preservation), CHAT (Child Abuse Treatment), CSAT (Child Sexual Abuse Treatment), and Medi-Cal Programs of HOPE (Helping Others in Parenting Environments). I enjoy being a note reviewer for Medi-Cal, working with quality assurance and CALM staff. A few times a year I am able to engage in community events or speak publicly to provide education and promote CALM’s mission.

Please share one of your best CALM experiences (a time you felt like you really made a difference).

I was hired as the first Intensive Family Reunification therapist when this was a new grant to CALM. Figuring out how to implement the work successfully and how to navigate this new area was exciting and challenging. The program is currently very successful, and it is making a huge difference in the lives of clients and families; it is my honor and privilege to help children return to their parents with a stronger family foundation.

One client that stands out in particular was an eight week old baby. The parents were very distrustful of the child welfare system and the mother had lost a previous child to the welfare system while she was in an abusive relationship with a different partner. These parents were guarded, angry, and desperate to reunify with their child. They had very little hope. During treatment this family addressed: intergenerational abuse, family mental illness, limited parenting skills, and substance abuse. The parents were even able to quit smoking and commit to a life without substances to benefit their child. The CWS referral indicated reunification was a long shot due to previous history. The family blossomed while in treatment and the child was reunified at 6 months, after hours of weekly family sessions had supported attunement and attachment. On the child’s first birthday, I was moved as the family sent a letter detailing their continued family success which reached beyond what they had imagined possible. The parents reported dispelling myths of parenting among friends, sharing their gained knowledge of child development and the brain with others, and being observably attuned with their child to such a high degree that family members now call them “child whisperers.” The family shared their deep appreciation for the life that would not have been possible without help. This family highlights how the past does not need to predict the future.

Finish the sentence, “If I could do one thing to make kids’ lives better, I would….”

If I could do one thing to make kids‘ lives better, I would help them turn their joy into everyday reality.

What is one thing you wish people knew about CALM?

There is no such thing as too small of a donation. These tax deductible donations from our community partners and individuals facilitate the foundation and growth of our work. Increased funding leads to new treatment possibilities, the training and retention of talent, and is fundamental to meeting the needs of building strong families and communities.

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Ann Marie Nelson
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