The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) television studios, UDCtv, provides the Washington, DC area with programming geared to foster health, political and environmental awareness. Dr. Katherine Marshall Woods hosts this UDCtv show entitled “A Healthy Mind” featuring guests from a myriad of professions lending information to promote healthy living and lifestyles. Entries entitled: “A Healthy Mind” share these interviews.
On September 18th, 2020 Dr. Joy Kassett, was invited to the show to discuss St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth & Families, which offers psychotherapy to young mothers in residential programs. Dr. Joy Kassett has over 25 years experience providing psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, clinical consulting and other related services within the DC area. Dr. Kassett currently holds a private practice in Washington, DC providing consultation, psychodynamic education, training and parental guidance. She is currently the Chair of the Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Training Program at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis, Inc. Dr. Kassett is an Associate Clinical Professor of Clinical Psychology at The George Washington University, providing clinical supervision to doctoral students in practice.
Dr. Marshall Woods: “Hello, my name is Dr. Katherine Marshall Woods, your host for this episode of A Healthy Mind. The purpose of this show is to inform and educate the public regarding mental health, from emotional disorders to social political events that affect healthy minds.”
“Teens that have children require support, many times in which they receive from caring adults in the community. Today our guest is Dr. Joy Kasset, licensed clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst at St. Ann’s Center for Children Youth & Families. Welcome Dr. Joy Kassett; welcome to the show.”
“How are you today?”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “Fine, thank you. Thank you for having me on the show.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “Oh, it is my pleasure. It’s so exciting actually, because I have known about St. Ann’s for probably the last 16 years. And, when we began talking you told me it was over a hundred years old! So, it’s so unbelievable the amount of services and support they’ve provided to the community all these years. So, really, thank you!”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “You’re welcome.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “So tell us a little bit about your professional self and your work you do.”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “I’m a child psychologist and psychoanalyst. I have a private practice in Washington, DC. I’m also the Chair of the Child & Adolescence Psychoanalytic training program at the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis. I’m on the faculty for Howard University, George Washington University; I’m on faculty with the Washington school of Psychiatry, so, I do a number of different things. One of the things I love doing is being a clinical consultant at St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth & Families. I have been there for about 4 years now working in that capacity. And you’re right, it is a very old program. It’s now celebrating its 163rd year of service. It began during the Civil War in 1860 and it was created by 3 daughters of charity. In 1860, president Abraham Lincoln, through an act of congress, declared it to be an incorporated institution. And it was really one of the first orphanages in Washington, DC.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “Wow, 163 years old and still providing wonderful support to the community. And so, I know over the years, they have changed their focus correct? Where they now treat different individuals.”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “Yes, initially it was just an orphanage because during the Civil War, in particular, they found that there were lots of kids being abandoned or children losing parents in the civil war or to illness. And, so it was initially just an orphanage. And, then through the years there were other needs that society had. So, it moved from California Street to K Street. And, now it’s out in Hyattsville, Maryland, where we serve teen mothers and their children. It’s a residential program. And, we also serve at risk mothers and who are homeless mothers who are in transition. So we serve both of those populations. So we serve teen moms from age 13 to older moms in their twenties, sometimes thirties homeless moms.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “Wow. And, so I know that St. Ann’s has a history of providing, again, a great deal of support to the individuals that reside there. What sort of supports do they offer currently?”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “So, The mission of St. Ann’s now is to provide support to all the moms and strengthen their families so they can begin to be more independent. So, we have a wide-range of services, we have clinical and social work services, education services, the girls can get their GED at St. Ann’s or they go to the local high school. We also have employment counseling for both older and teen moms as well. We have a full daycare center at St. Ann’s so that the moms can leave their children at daycare while they go to work and the girls are at school and that is onsite as well. The daycare is also open to the whole community, so while they provide services for the moms who live there, it’s also a full running daycare to the entire community and surrounding communities. So, those are just a number; and, certainly we have a residential program because we have the residential staffs who are huge! They are the ones who are with the girls all the time. The residential program is the biggest piece of our program.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “How do individuals become selected to be a participant of St. Ann’s?”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “A lot of the teen moms are involved in the Department of Social Services or the Department of Juvenile Services and they are often referred that way, or through other community organizations. The moms who are older and working, they are often self-referred or a family member or friend might know of St. Ann’s or other community organization might know of St. Ann’s and they refer them to our program as well.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “One of the things that we hear so often, especially within mental health, in residential facilities and programs is the waitlist. It’s how long does it take people to get in. Do you find that there is always a host of individuals who want to come to St. Ann’s? Because it has a fantastic reputation.”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “There are a host of individuals that want to come to St. Ann’s and sometimes we have a waiting list, but sometimes we don’t and we will have a bed for someone who is in need. So, I would encourage anybody who is interested in coming please do not hesitate, if we can’t offer our service we will connect you to the community services as well.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “ Mhmm, so tell us a little bit more about your role at St. Ann’s, I understand that you work with the teens as well as the staff.”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “I do, I do both. So, when I first, about four years ago, when I offered my services, I met with the Director of Clinical and Social Work Services, who had only been there for a year before myself. So, her name is Shaneen Alvarez and she really was very interested in developing a model, a formal model of care there. So, clearly St. Ann’s has been existing for many many years, they have a wonderful model of care, but we wanted to try to formalize it. So, what we wanted to do, we had three goals in mind when developing our models of care. We really wanted to strengthen the attachment between their mothers and their children. We also wanted to, in terms of strengthening the attachment, it is our hope that we break the transgenerational cycle of trauma; because all the women who come into St. Ann’s there is a level of trauma there, so we want to, our hope is to break that transgenerational cycle of trauma. And, thirdly, we wanted to have a center-wide model. So, ee wanted to have a model of care that everyone participated in, and everyone was involved in, from the residential staff, to the clinical staff, to the administrative staff, to the kitchen staff, to the maintenance staff; we wanted everyone to be trained in this model. So, that whenever anyone of us are interacting with the moms, we are informed of our model of care.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “That is so important. It really is such an inclusion model that highlights the idea that everyone whose interacting with one another has a part to play in healing.
Dr. Joy Kassett: “Absolutely.”
Dr. Marshall Woods: “It’s wonderful that you have taken this stance because we know how also successful that can be for individuals to be able to get them to places of 1. Healing from trauma and 2. Being able to feel competent to be able to live their lives independently.”
Dr. Joy Kassett: “Right, exactly, exactly. So, this has been really important to us. So, that’s one of the major things that I have been working on with the Clinical Director of Social Services as well as the Residential Director, who runs all the programs here. So, the three of us have really been working on formalizing this model of care. And, it’s very unique model of care. And, it also has some psychodynamic, psychoanalytic influences that I have been able to bring in and use in a way that is really very helpful I think. So, I’ve been able to help them think about this lens as well.”
“The other things we’ve introduced since I’ve been there is we do things like Brown Bag Lunches, where we talk about very social issues, and our residents are involved in in our Brown Bag Lunches, so we have them a couple times a month. And we’ll talk about things like health care disparities amongst African American young women. We’ll talk about education bias, we’ll talk about things like sex trafficking, also gang violence because some of the girls have been involved in some of that come into the program. So, these are challenges for us. And, so we begin to think about that and educate, and the residents are involved in all of this.”
“So, I also participate in-group supervision for the residential staff, because, and that’s where we talk about some of the difficulties, not difficulties, but sort of challenges with the residents and how we can use our formal model of care to inform everything we do and that has been really helpful. And then, finally, we have a training program there for social work interns and psychology externs, actually from GW. And, so we run a program there, where it’s a little difficult now because it currently on Zoom but we are carrying on….
Please visit https://youtu.be/D9_dMce-K6k to see the remaining portion of this interview.