Our leadership team is one to admire. Making an impact in our clients’ journey and inspiring brighter and healthier lives is what they do best.
Of that team, Dr. Jaymes Gonzales is our Chief Clinical Officer here at The Transition House. Having worked here for the past six years, he has led efforts on all things clinical and counseling. We had the opportunity to pick his brain a bit on what it means to be CCO. Check out what makes Dr. Gonzales such a stellar counselor and leader for our team!
Q: What inspired you to work in this field? Was this always something you wanted to do?
A: My whole life I wanted to help people. However, the older I got, I also had a strong desire to understand them, the social and cultural factors that impact their identity, their personality, and how they view and live in the world. That led me directly to psychology.
Early in my career, I didn’t like to say this because I really wanted to form my own unique professional identity, but my father is a wonderful clinical psychologist, and my mom is a talented psychiatric nurse practitioner. I’m sure growing up in the field helped lead me into it, too.
Q: Tell us about your work experience before coming to TTH. How did you end up where you are now?
A: I started as a staff psychologist and was interested in system and program development. I just spoke up as often as I could and gave input in areas I thought would be helpful to contribute.
I also frequently offered to participate in various things, like grant writing or taking on new supervisory roles. I’m really good at self-care, but I also like to say “yes” as often as I can or volunteer for various things that I am able to.
Q: Tell us about what it means to be Chief Clinical Officer.
A: The CCO role is the agency’s leader of all things clinical. It is my job to ensure that we provide current evidence-based practices, or that the art side of clinical work is done appropriately, and that we are up to speed on the standards of care within behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment.
I encourage collaboration and consultation amongst clinical professionals, and we are fortunate to have some very skilled people who do very difficult work. It is also my job to be the final say on clinical direction or decisions when a final guiding answer is needed.
It is my responsibility to convey what good clinical work means, to model that, teach it, and maintain high standards in that area. Most importantly, I view myself as a resource for our staff; it is my job to be available to all of our staff.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: For me personally, the most rewarding part of my job is the variety of different things I get to do. My day may include grant writing, supervising clinical staff, writing a policy, connecting with a partner agency, answering a client complaint, planning a program design, and reading an article on a new best practice approach. That I can have all of that in one day is enjoyable to me. I also really love working with our staff members and seeing their enthusiasm for the work we do.
Q: What do you do outside of work that you really enjoy or are passionate about?
A: As a former Alaskan, I love anything involving nature. Walking in the woods, on a beach, or next to a river makes me feel relaxed and connected to a world bigger than myself. I enjoy being reminded that there are much grander and complex things than ourselves. You could very well define that as spirituality.
Q: What is your word of advice for anyone going through a rough time with their mental health during this pandemic?
A: Seek help for what you are going through, don’t take it on alone. Research on therapy is very clear that it helps, but even if that isn’t something you are ready for, talk to a friend, family member, or important figure in your life. It is okay to say clearly that you need their support and that you are struggling with something and could use their help. No matter who you reach out to, don’t take on stressors, mental health difficulties, or substance use disorder challenges alone.
Q: What are some coping mechanisms you partake in on a regular basis for your own mental health?
A: My absolute favorite is just simple deep breathing. Most people say it doesn’t work, but that’s because it has to be done slowly and focused. It has to be practiced when you aren’t overwhelmed. I also rely a lot on humor, exercise, kayaking, listening to good music, and writing. Last of all, I maintain a very strong relationship with chocolate.
Q: What has been your most rewarding success story since your time working at TTH?
A: Our clients come to us in a very vulnerable state, and it takes a lot of bravery to engage in our services. I’ve had countless opportunities to see clients grow and move past things they struggle with.
Aside from the privilege of being a small part of someone’s journey to wellness, I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to the success and growth of the agency, which we ultimately do for the sake of our clients and the communities we serve. Helping us advance as an organization so that we can then help individuals in need is incredibly rewarding.
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