Welcome, Dr. Jessica Gladden

Jessica GladdenThe Fountain Hill Center is pleased to welcome new counselor Jessica Gladden as a part-time member of our permanent staff. Jessica will be seeing clients at the Grand Rapids Office on Tuesday afternoons and evenings, while continuing to teach in Ferris State University’s Social Work Program.

“Jessica’s energy, her experiences working with refugees and people suffering from complex trauma, and her passion for social justice are all wonderful additions to our Center,” notes Amy Van Gunst, Executive Coordinator for The Fountain Hill Center. “Her practice dovetails with a lot of what we already do, while adding some new pieces we didn’t have before.”

After teaching for ten years, starting and managing her own nonprofit, and writing a textbook (“Social Work Leaders Through History: Lives and Lessons”), Jessica realized that she missed working with people and missed the sense of giving back that she felt when she was in clinical practice. Although teaching and writing do involve working with people, she says, “it’s mostly quick, more business-oriented interactions. I’m looking forward to working with clients in a therapeutic setting, where I’ll be able to share knowledge in a different, more focused way.”

Jessica first discovered a passion for therapy and social work while working with refugees in South Africa, in El Salvador, and later, in Grand Rapids. While working as an Intake Coordinator and Family Therapist at the Grand Rapids YWCA, she found that many of the skills she honed working with refugees transferred to working with victims of sexual abuse and their families.

GRHY - 200 Hour Yoga Immersion

Today, many of her clients walk in the door looking for ideas and skills they can use to calm down when triggered. She finds this is true for clients who haven’t experienced trauma, as well as for those who have. “Probably everyone could benefit from knowing more about how to remain calm in stressful situations.” Rather than making use of a particular therapeutic model like CBT, she takes a very client-centered approach and often makes use of somatic (body-based) therapies like yoga and mindfulness.

“The first yoga class I remember taking was in El Salvador, and it was in Spanish, so I really didn’t know what I was doing. But a lot of other people ended up helping me. I’ve discovered that if you don’t have a community, yoga can be a great way of finding a community.”

Jessica has completed her 200 Hour Teacher Training, with Trauma Informed & Trauma Sensitive Yoga Certification, at Grand Rapids Healing Yoga, and is looking forward to working trauma-informed yoga into her therapy practice. “I’d like to incorporate yoga into my therapy setting, as it has such important benefits for healing. As a practitioner, I’ve noticed how disconnected trauma survivors often are from their bodies.”

For those interested in learning more about the therapeutic benefits of yoga, as well as how trauma-informed yoga differs from other kinds of yoga, Jessica will be hosting a free workshop at The Fountain Hill Center’s Grand Rapids Office on Tuesday, April 10th from 7-8 PM. For more information on that and other yoga offerings, call (616) 456-1178 or email contact@fountainhillcenter.com.