teaching-counselingNicole Spreadborough helps heal young lives. On any given day, the OSU–Cascades alumna might work with five clients — ages two to 18 — who have been traumatized by physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Spreadborough is a mental health therapist for Deschutes County; she works at the Kids Intervention and Diagnostic Service (KIDS) Center — a multi-agency, nonprofit facility dedicated to the prevention, evaluation and
treatment of child abuse in Central Oregon.

When suspected child abuse is reported in the county, the child is referred to the KIDS Center to be interviewed and medically evaluated by a team of doctors and specialists. The child is then assigned to a therapist, often Spreadborough.

“The kids who are coming to see us have complex trauma,” she said. “Healing for these kids doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process. For many of our clients, attachment disruptions are part of their trauma. We work to heal the attachment injury, and help the kids trust in relationships again.”

Spreadborough began her graduate counseling studies at OSU-Cascades after a 15-year tenure as a family services worker withthe Head Start school readiness program. She applied to Cascades’ competitive-entry program because she wanted to work
with clients at a deeper level.

Spreadborough graduated with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from OSU-Cascades in 2008. The counseling program provided a foundation upon which Spreadborough could build her therapy practice. It also helped clarify the personal philosophies she would bring to her new career. She said the program’s emphasis on social justice helped form her approach in the classroom and as she interned at an inpatient psychiatric facility and worked on behalf of child welfare.

The graduate counseling program at OSU-Cascades is a cohort model, meaning a relatively small group of students stays together through their terms of study. Spreadborough said she and her fellow students had become a family by the end of the three years. She works with two fellow alumni at the KIDS Center and knows of many other OSU-Cascades counseling graduates who work for Deschutes County Behavioral Health Services.

At the KIDS Center, she sees herself as an advocate for those without a voice and a facilitator of a much-needed healing process that can lead to a better life for her clients.

“Our hope is to help kids leave therapy and to have the tools to manage themselves out in the world,” she said. “I can’t see myself doing anything else. This is a really good fit for who I am as a person.”