Ann Abell joined SCAN’s Circle Preschool Program in August 2019 as the Clinical Coordinator. In this role, she manages the clinical aspects of SCAN’s therapeutic preschool program including overseeing therapeutic services in the classroom setting, providing one on one mental health sessions with children and caregivers, and conducting assessments when children are referred to the program. We are grateful to have Ann’s expertise, organization, and heart for children and families as part of the SCAN team.
How did you first get involved with SCAN?
I joined the Greater Richmond Trauma Informed Community Network in 2017 and also became a committee member for the brief screening tool committee. Though I was currently a school-based clinician the mission of this committee to increase comfort and improve techniques for screening children for trauma was of significant professional interest. I have followed the work at SCAN since I graduated from VCU with my Masters of Social Work in 2006.
What has your life/work experience been that brought you to SCAN?
I graduated from the VCU School of Social Work in 2006 with my MSW Clinical Concentration. Prior to graduate school and after graduate school completion, I worked in various Residential Treatment Centers for children and adolescents providing direct care as a unit counselor and then as a clinician providing various types of clinical services to address mental health symptoms. Early on in my work it was apparent that a majority of my clients had experienced trauma, abuse and neglect in their childhood. These traumas had been unidentified and therefore unaddressed as they related to the treatment plan and support for my clients. My passion for children whom have experienced various Adervse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), their strengths and resilience began while working in these Residential Settings. The memories and experiences my clients shared with me in sessions were an honor to hold to allow them to learn how to heal. Through these intense clinical experiences early on in my career I decided to frame my professional development and continuing education and training around the best practices to provide play-based trauma-informed client-centered interventions to children, adolescents and their families. My recent clinical work prior to joining SCAN was providing school-based mental health services, program development and clinical supervision with Elk Hill in various underserved rural areas school districts. The exposure to the barriers and lack of services in rural areas combined with my previous urban work experiences further inspired my desire to advocate for children and families experiencing various stressors, trauma and isolation. I am excited to be a part of SCAN and the Circle Preschool Program.
What are any challenges you have faced in your work with SCAN?
Circle Preschool works with young children whom have various levels of exposure to stressors and traumas. Our team has worked diligently to convert our program to virtual platforms to support parents and children during the COVID-19 Pandemic. We researched and developed techniques to meet the needs of young children quickly as this population is rarely provided services via Telehealth or virtual platforms. The energy and innovative ideas our team has developed has been challenging, yet also very rewarding.
What has been the best experience with SCAN so far?
The best experience I have had at SCAN is witnessing the Circle Preschool children display excitement, joy and development of friendships that have now carried over to a virtual platform. The joy and excitement they display when they play together at school and virtually is incredible to witness.