How finding a vision set the direction for a new life

mh_article9Without any real purpose or direction when she was in college, Sonya Cha, El Centro de Amistad multidisciplinary assessment team (MAT) program coordinator, found herself majoring in international business, even studying abroad in Korea. After meeting college friends who were spiritual and attending several services, Sonya became “more open to the spirituality part of me.” Then one day her mom signed her up for a spiritual conference and for the first time, she started seeing a vision for herself and who she was created to be. “The only thing that poured out through that was wanting [others] to experience this freedom and great joy,” she said. What may have started as an interest in international business for Sonya segued into helping people who have faced traumatic situations find their purpose, their true identify and freedom within themselves. After receiving a master’s in pastoral studies and a second one in marriage and family therapy, Sonya set out to fulfill her vision. She landed a position at ECDA as a clinician then was promoted to the job she has now. As a MAT program coordinator, she oversees nearly 90 referrals of children in foster care from the Department of Children and Family Services. Sonya assigns these cases to MAT assessors who determine if the child requires mental health services or other support systems. Then they link the child to providers such as ECDA, if appropriate, or other agencies to fulfill the specific needs. She also supervises clinicians providing outpatient mental health services, guiding them in redirecting clients if there is a crisis, ensuring the treatment is progressing, or helping them establish a treatment plan and goal. “My hope is that children and youth develop resiliency within their challenging situation, find ways to cope and problem solve the multiple faceted issues that they constantly face, and learn to access their natural supports and support system,” said Sonya, who explained that these children have experienced different caregivers, the instability in placements, the separation from biological parents and siblings, and mental health issues. One key component to finding hope is empowering them. Sonya said, “Knowing who is their support system and reaching out to them when they need it as well as creating their own family within their own situation” is what will help transform their lives. Sonya shared a few tips on how she continues fulfilling her vision and staying focused on her purpose. Reflection—Reflect on your day daily. Whether it’s on your commute home or the last 10 minutes of your day before you go to bed, think about what happened throughout your day. Redirection—Redirect any negative thoughts to maintain a positive realistic idea of situations that don’t go well. Is there a silver lining? Be grateful for the good in what you have. Meditation—Whether it’s a bible, affirmations or a mantra, the truth in these words always help you find positive things in the negative situations. Far from Korea, Sonya has found her calling right here in El Centro de Amistad.