LCSNW therapist has ripple effect on Spokane children for 20 years and counting

by | Mar 8, 2023 | Behavioral Health, Child Welfare, Staff Spotlight

Congratulations to Sharon O’Brien for her 20-year anniversary with LCSNW in Spokane. As one of her coworkers said: “It’s impossible to measure how Sharon’s positive impact is rippling out into the world. What a beautiful contribution in a world that really needs it!” 

Sharon’s relationship with LCSNW originally began as a therapeutic foster parent. She spent five years in that role before she came to work for the agency as a therapist.

Over the years she has found that working with children in crisis or at risk of crisis can be rewarding but also takes a toll.

“20 years of doing this work has required that I do a lot of self care, as well as my own work along the way,” she said. “I look for the bits of success, the moments of happiness, and the graduations from therapy among all the tears and anger that folks can bring into session with them.”

Sharon worked several years in the Sexual Assault & Family Trauma (SAFeT) program before transitioning to the Foster Care Assessment Program. In that position, she completed intensive mental health assessments for Inland Northwest foster children in an effort to stabilize them and help them find permanency.

Sharon was then promoted to supervisor with the Juvenile Rehabilitation Program at LCSNW. She helped place teens who were transitioning out of prison into therapeutic foster homes where they could resume schooling, family contact, and community living without some of the stressors that might cause them to reoffend.

Eventually, she worked as a supervisor in the Child Welfare program, mainly with youth experiencing Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB). For the past nearly seven years, she has supervised LCSNW Spokane’s Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) program, which she helped start.

“It is not an easy job, but it is a job where I think I make a difference,” Sharon reflected. “I choose to believe that difference has the potential to grow from an eddy to a ripple, touching the lives of many more people as the ripple makes its way outward. Who could ask for more?”