With headquarters in Benton, Arkansas and 14 locations throughout the state, Birch Tree Communities, Inc. provides a spectrum of services to adults who struggle with recovery from symptoms of mental illness. Tanya Cannon completed her Foundation year internship the summer of 2014 at New Beginnings, a residential community for 12 Birch Tree members who have developmental delays in addition to mental-illness related challenges.
Tanya’s previous experience involved working at Our House and Youth Home. She said she has always been driven by two goals familiar to most social workers: to understand human behavior, and to help others. Tanya said that she was quickly impressed by Birch Tree’s team approach to recovery and the importance they placed on empowering those they served. Tanya said she liked that Birch Tree staff refer to residents as members rather than clients, and that recommendations made by the Executive Member Council, a consumer advisory board comprised of current and former Birch Tree Members, were taken seriously. Above all, Tanya said she appreciated the welcome and wisdom she received from her Field Instructor, Tisha Jenkins.
In a presentation given to UA Little Rock’s Student Social Work Organization, Tisha described the often challenging but rewarding process of developing supportive relationships with individuals in recovery from severe symptoms of mental illness. She stressed to those present that the hope generated in supportive relationships acts as a catalyst for recovery and aids in the containment of the person’s fears, doubts and despair. It is hope that allows their gradual transformation into confidence, strength, and new opportunities for change.