From Intern to Innovative Partner Abuse Intervention Program Supervisor
Erin Bergren’s inspiring career path began as a Master of Social Work student at Northern Illinois University. When Erin expressed his desire for more clinical experience, his university mentor suggested interning with Children’s Home + Aid; describing the internship opportunity as a place where he would be able to “be in the trenches.”
Although Erin started at Children’s Home + Aid as an intern, his career with the agency did not end there. Following the completion of his internship, Erin was hired as a therapist in the Partner Abuse Intervention Program and promoted to supervisor four years later. The Partner Abuse Intervention Program allows participants to join an open forum to share their experiences and find alternative ways of processing their emotions rather than through violence. The program is meaningful to Erin because he collaborated with the clinical team to create it while an intern. Erin’s internship and current supervisor, Lori, remarked that his efforts were instrumental in writing the program’s protocol.
Lori encouraged Erin to help build the Partner Abuse Intervention Program, feeling that he would be an excellent fit for the job. Erin’s passion for the Partner Abuse Intervention Program and providing innovative treatment for the families we serve is contagious. He emphasizes the importance of Children’s Home + Aid’s a trauma informed approach to treating not only domestic violence victims but their partners as well. “Everybody gets to where they are in life through experiences. Many clinicians don’t fully appreciate the trauma that the partners of domestic violence victims may have experienced earlier in their lives that helped create the current situation. When we look at the problem through a trauma-informed perspective, we’re able to do more than treat a bullet hole with a band aid.”
Erin emphasizes the importance of an exceptional supervisor, stating that Lori taught him many of the techniques he demonstrates in his own supervisory capacity. “My relationship with Lori was very strong. Part of what made Lori a great supervisor were her strong listening and communication skills, which allowed me to learn a lot from her. Now as a supervisor myself, I work hard to make sure that I am doing everything I need to in order to support my staff.” Next year, Erin is planning to begin a doctorate program and intends to continue working with perpetrators of domestic violence in order to find the most effective ways to treat these individuals. “If I can figure out a better way to treat these victim batterers then, in many ways, that means I will be protecting the women on the receiving end of this violence.”
If you are interested in working or interning for Children’s Home + Aid, please visit our Career Opportunities page.
Simone Kohn is a Children’s Home + Aid Human Resources intern completing her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.