Psycho-education and Special Education

Gabrielle Cormier

Gabrielle Cormier holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in psycho-education from the Université de Sherbrooke. A member of the Ordre des psychoéducateurs et psychoéducatrices du Québec, she currently works at CLSC de Benny Farm as a member of the Jeunes en difficulté team.

"I’ve always wanted to work in the healthcare system or with children,” Gabrielle explains. “By chance, when I was choosing my university program, I discovered psycho-education, which has enabled me to use my analytical skills. I have to think about the way certain types of behaviour occur, and how to help a young person adapt." Regardless of the circumstances, creativity is the main focus, and even if the problems are similar, the interventions can vary significantly.

Gabrielle works mainly with those between the age of 6 and 17, who have adjustment difficulties that become apparent on a behavioural level: anxiety, feelings of depression, opposition and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. "The involvement and support of parents are crucial when I work with these young people,” she says. “I also work closely with several partners, including schools, to ensure that everything is consistent with whatever living environment the child is in."

Gabrielle also finds the multi-ethnic clientele of CLSC de Benny Farm to be enriching. This diversity must be considered in each of her interventions. In fact, from one culture to another, parenting and values can vary, and this requires a certain amount of adaptation.

According to Gabrielle, teamwork is essential to her work. She is confronted daily with complex situations that need to be discussed by a team, which allows for a fresh perspective and varied interventions. "What I like most is that the team and the managers encourage creativity in our interventions, whether in the office, at home, or elsewhere. We also have an opportunity to approach our superiors with new ideas for our work and for projects—something that’s encouraged and supported”.

Gabrielle's work is a real source of pride, especially when clients' goals are met or when effective interventions have led to real improvements within a family. "My proudest moments come when I meet a family a few months or years later, and they tell me how well things are going."

Dominique Hamel

In addition to a DEC in Social Sciences from Dawson College, Dominique Hamel has earned a technical diploma in Special Education from Vanier College. She is currently pursuing a part-time Bachelor's degree in Human Relations at Concordia University.

Dominque has always wanted to help children in adaptation and rehabilitation. Miriam Home and Services and its associated clinic, where she currently works, are the perfect places where she can put her knowledge and skills to use. For the most part, her clients are children with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and pervasive developmental disorders. "Since elementary school, I’ve been in contact with people who have diverse needs,” she says. “I believe that everyone has potential. If you work with them, regardless of their differences, it's amazing what they can do."

As a Special Education Technician (SET), Dominique feels that Miriam Home and Services truly recognizes what she can achieve. From the moment a child is assigned to her, she gathers the basic data, performs the assessments, and writes and implements the intervention plan. However, she never acts alone. Teamwork is a staple at Miriam Home and Services, an asset to the children and their parents.

"I work with a great team of SETs, social workers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, clinical activity specialists, psychologists, nutritionists and many others,” Dominique notes. “We are always there to help one another. We really try to find the best approach for our young clients and we use all the available resources."

Working as an SET is rewarding, despite its difficulties. Since every child is different, constant adaptation is required to identify the best possible intervention. With the support of her supervisors and managers, Dominique and her colleagues can be proud of their remarkable achievements. "When parents thank us for what we've done for them and their child, or tell us we've changed their lives, it's just amazing," she says.

While working with adults in the community, Dominique helped set up a key-chain sales project at the Miriam Centre. This initiative—of which she is particularly proud—allowed youths to demonstrate their work skills and raise funds for a partner organization.

  •  CLICK HERE for an article about the key-chain project.

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