In The Field: A Conversation with Program Supervisor, Deborah Givens

Deborah GivensDeborah Givens, BA

YA Program Supervisor

Deborah is a Program Supervisor at our Young Adult program.  Her primary responsibilities are risk management for the program and providing field support for the students and guides during daily field operations.  Program Supervisors are the first line of support for the Program Guides. The position is a residential shift that requires being “on-call” 24 hours a day and staying at the facility, as well as spending time in the various groups/camps.

Tell us a little about yourself…school, previous experience?

I graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University with a Bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal Communication in May of 2014. Before coming to PQ, I had spent four years running a teen quiz program and three years working with young adults as they transitioned into college. In both of these programs, I enjoyed being able to work with young adults as they explored their own abilities and struggled to figure out how those could align with the kind of person each wanted to be in their communities. It was rewarding work that I am pleased to be able to continue while at Pacific Quest.

What brought you to PQ?

The horticultural emphasis was what originally drew my attention to PQ. It was new and interesting and I’d always wanted to learn how to garden but never felt like I had the right time, space, or tools to do so. I was also drawn to the therapeutic approach that gardening implied to me: a more deliberate focus on caring and tending to wounded areas in the students, rather than the “break ’em down to build ’em up” approach that some survival-based therapeutic programs seemed to use. PQ’s approach allowed me to care for others in a supportive way while also enabling me to learn a new skill I’d been interested in. That’s why I’m here.

Where does your motivation to work in this field come from?

No matter which end of therapy you’re on, therapeutic work is often exhausting. What motivates me are the small moments that are found in the midst of that work: the classic “lightbulb” moments, the times when a student finally opens up and entrusts me with a piece of their story, seeing the students gather together with guides for shared meals and laughter…these quiet moments encourage me that the work I am doing is worthwhile. In my experience, people need to know that they matter; the more an individual is hurting, the more that person needs to know that he or she is not forgotten. I do this work so that others will know that someone sees them and that their story matters.

Describe your attributes that you bring to the field.

I try to bring a calm, practical point of view to my work in the field. It helps balance out the highs and lows of a normal day and reminds us all to take a deep breath when things get hectic. I also let myself act a little bit silly throughout the day. I think that we need to be reminded not to take ourselves and our problems too seriously all the time and silliness can be a great rapport building tool with students. I’m also a detail-oriented person; in the field, this means that I help the day to run smoothly from one session to the next and I like to help others problem-solve when conflicting needs arise within the community.

What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Being part of such a great team is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I love the care and intention that most people bring to the field and it’s great to be able to bounce ideas off of each other. I also feel really rewarded when I see new guides come in and start feeling comfortable enough to lead their own group sessions; it’s great to see the variety of talents and perspectives that work with our students and it’s amazing to see the students respond to that as well.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from a student?  

From my students I’ve learned that sometimes my appreciation for problem-solving can become overwhelming for others. I’ve learned to step back and recognize those situations where the problem doesn’t need to be solved right away. I’ve also learned a lot about how to empower others and found a few techniques that work well with my personality.

How will working at PQ prepare you for your next step in life?

My intent in coming to work for PQ was to develop more practical leadership techniques and to learn more about how individuals’ past experiences impact their current actions. No matter what my next step turns out to be, knowing how to work well with others and how to motivate a group can only help. I’ve also learned just how interested I am in helping others develop their skill sets and I look forward to incorporating this passion more in my current role at PQ as well as in whatever next step I end up taking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *