A Real-Life Super Woman: Alison Owen Forehand
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
- Nelson Mandela
As the #saveourchildren movement continues to gain popularity across social media, there is more attention placed on human sex trafficking and child abuse than ever before. Many of us are sickened and enraged as more information reveals how widespread this problem really is. However, there are people who dedicate their entire career to help children. You’ve heard the saying that “not all heroes wear capes” and that couldn’t be more accurate in regard to social work. It’s time for us to acknowledge those who made it their mission in life to help save our children before it was a trending topic on Facebook. These unsung heroes come face-to-face with some of the ugliest situations this world has to offer, but somehow find the strength to do it all again the next day. Despite the motivational speeches by politicians and celebrities, these are the people working on the frontlines to save our children. Whether they’re removing the innocent from horrible circumstances or helping them overcome issues brought on by traumatic experiences, these are the soldiers leading the fight against one of our nation’s biggest problems.
Meet Alison Owen Forehand.
Alison works for Centerstone, a not-for-profit organization focused on behavioral health, as a School-Based Therapist in Middle Tennessee. As a Licensed Master of Social Work, her position with Centerstone concentrates on helping students overcome issues, such as depression and trauma, that hinder their behavioral, emotional, or social growth. As a School-Based Therapist, Alison has the opportunity to do what she loves: helping children address these issues and learn skills to conquer them.
Growing up, Alison volunteered with at-risk youth and observed the unique hardships they encountered in their daily lives. She witnessed first-hand the obstacles they faced, including physical, emotional, academic, etc., and realized just how much a caring adult could impact their lives. She knew she wanted to be a part of the mission focused on helping kids succeed no matter what difficulties or setback they experienced.
When it comes to her motivation for success, Alison’s self-assessment showed me why she is so good at her job:
“I have always had a strong internal motivation, which can cause me to be perfectionistic. It's just part of my personality that I want to do the best that I can, be responsible, and fully commit to whatever task I'm working on. I want people to think well of me, and I want to be competent in everything that I do.
Another motivating factor are the kids that I see. If I'm not fully present or not giving my best effort, I'm not going to be able to help them, and might actually end up harming them and my relationship with them!”
The work/life balance is complicated for most. However, few of us spend our days like a School-Based Therapist; listening to heartbreaking stories and counseling children to cope with the challenges they face. When asked how she maintains a good balance between home and career, she gave an answer that we can all learn to put into practice:
“That's a tough question because it's different for everyone! I think for me, it is to make sure to monitor my stress levels. If I'm stressed, I'm not going to be successful at work and my loved ones are going to suffer as well.”
Since relaxing is a big part of managing stress levels, Alison gives us a little insight to what it’s like at home. A lot of us can relate to what keeps her tension at bay:
“To relax, I like to spend time with my puppies (the best little stress relievers), hang out with my husband who is a natural optimist and can always help lighten my mood or make me laugh, spending time with good friends, reading, and exercise, especially hiking.”
Working with children to encourage positivity and help shape their lives is an admirable career to say the least. It takes a special person to take on this responsibility and our society can greatly benefit from the guidance of these individuals. As a woman with such an important role in helping determine the future of our nation, she offers these words of advice to all women:
“I think one of the worst things we as women do is to compare where we are in our lives with the accomplishments of other women. What's right for that person may not be right for you. I would encourage young women to really think about what they want to accomplish, what field they want to be in, are they interested homemaking or other activities, and allow themselves to follow these goals without guilt or shame. You can be just as impactful at home as in the office! Stop comparing and judging!”