Counseling Center helps clients find right fit in the workplace
The Daily Record - 3/1/2019
WOOSTER — With the help of counseling, Richie Harbour was able to take a negative and turn it into positive.
Harbour, 38, has been a full-time investigator with the Benefit Recovery Unit for Wayne County Jobs and Family Services since December 2018.
Harbour, who has cerebral palsy and uses a walker, said his mental health was affected by his physical condition.
“So [cerebral palsy] in itself is an illness barrier to me,” Harbour said. “But I deal a lot with anxiety, stress because unfortunately this world was not designed for me.”
After being stuck in an ill-fitting job that made him unhappy, Harbour started seeing Chris Fyffe in Employment Services at the Counseling Center of Wayne and Holmes Counties.
“I tend to want to please everyone and feel that I’m not good enough,” Harbour said. “I put myself under such pressure to raise that bar even higher … that’s just what I’ve always done and had to do throughout my working career.
“That brought me here and taught me some of the skills I needed to deal with my stress and cope with it,” he continued.
Harbour lives in Rittman with his wife of four years, Martha, and together they helped foster a toddler who was recently placed with a family.
“So, I needed to get a new job,” Harbour said. “How do you do that when you’re working full time, you’re going home helping take care of a household and helping raise a little one? There’s not time to job search.”
That’s where Fyffe and Employment Services stepped in.
“Basically, we’re helping people with behavioral health problems to be able to find employment and sustain employment that they wouldn’t be able to do so on their own,” Fyffe said. “Primarily, they’ll run through three different processes or steps, and that’s going to be job assessment, job development and then job coaching.
“So in that assessment, we bring people in and we’ll talk to them about different barriers to employment that they may have, whether that’s strictly due to things with mental illness or it could be a lot of things,” Fyffe continued. “It may be housing, where they don’t have housing or insufficient funds for a vehicle, or they could have a number of different things.”
After prioritizing those barriers and how to overcome them, Fyffe said a client would then be transitioned into the job development section of the program — working on resumes, cover letters, interviewing skills.
“We’ll talk about how to talk to employers about having a disability, whether it be a physical disability, mental disability or both,” Fyffe said.
After a client gets a job, Fyffe said the third step is 90 days of job coaching. Part of the job coaching includes the ability to have Fyffe and Employment Services step in on behalf of a client, he said.
For Harbour, he said the job development phase was a huge help in landing full-time employment. He said the mock interviews that Fyffe did were especially helpful in de-escalating his anxiety.
Fyffe said he and Harbour, along with the help of his regular counselor, have worked on cognitive tools to help regulate his anxiety, as well.
“The other thing we’ve been able to do with Richie on the job ... is work on those anti-anxiety tools,” Fyffe said, “to be able to use and help bring that down. He’s been able to do that very well on his own since then just using the things that we applied.”
Thanks to the help of Fyffe and the counseling center, Harbour said he was able to walk into an interview with confidence for the first time.
“He did some researching on jobs for me and found some stuff that I liked and we applied for them,” Harbour said. “Nothing really came of those, and he found the one at Wayne County and was like, ‘This is right up your alley, this is exactly what you want to do.’ So, he sent the application in for me and I did the rest,” he explained.
“For the first time going into an interview, I wasn’t afraid. I had the confidence and the ability to say, ‘You know what, this is no longer going to define me for employment. I deserve this and I’m going to show them why I deserve this.’”
Harbour said the Fyffe has given him the tools to see his walker as a positive, not the negative he always saw it as.
“With Chris, he was able to teach me the skills to be able to look at this as a positive versus the negative I always viewed it as,” Harbour said. “I can go into an employer and say, ‘I am goal-oriented, I can think outside of the box, I can do l X, Y or Z, and that’s because of this,” he said, gesturing to his walker. “Because of what I’ve gone through in life with my disability it’s allowed me to have skills that nobody else is going to have ... Chris gave me the ability and taught me how to not be afraid of my condition.”
Contact Kristin Hohman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-674-5675.
CREDIT: KRISTIN HOHMAN