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Dr. Johnson has worked for many years in community, correctional and residential settings with juveniles and adults. Many of the juveniles presented with behavior problems and symptoms which were primarily secondary to their estranged relationships with and confusing feelings about their parents and other primary caregivers. Or the challenges kids exhibited were due to inconsistent and pathological contact with caregivers. Their caregivers often struggled with issues such as substance abuse, incarceration, mental health problems, etc. Dr. Johnson’s sessions with these children and juveniles have been filled with questions such as “Why can’t my mom love me and not the drugs or streets?”; “How could my mom let her boyfriend hurt me like that?”; or, “Dr. Dee, I’m not even sure I wanna see my dad. What does he want from me? He been going in and out of prison my whole life.”
Conversely, at the core of the issues discussed by many adults in treatment were feelings such as incompetence and hopelessness around their own short-comings as parents. Dr. Johnson has counseled many parents, particularly in correctional facilities, who felt unable to effectively manage the challenges of parenthood and unable to cope with symptoms related to substance abuse and mental health issues, in addition to limited access to financial and housing resources.
Many of the juveniles and parents, even when in contact with each, never found a way to effectively work through their trauma, communicate their feelings, and appropriately correct their behaviors. The inception of Juvenile & Adult Re-Entry Connections (JARC) comes from Dr. Johnson’s clinical insight and belief that the primary way to address these issues is to help individuals learn healthier and adaptive ways to relate to themselves and others. In instances where it is not possible or safe to repair and restore those family and extended kinship connections, opportunities for individuals to identify and develop new networks and relationships are key. In addition to helping to lessen the likelihood of violating the terms of their conditional releases vis-à-vis requisite behavioral health and other resources, JARC will help to foster in its clients the development of necessary functional and adaptive life skills needed to successfully re-integrate into the community.
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