March 27, 2023

Making an Impact: Clinician Krystal Kennedy Helps Virginia Beach Youth Heal and Thrive

Krystal shares about teamwork and training opportunities for working with adolescents in the City of Virginia Beach’s Department of Human Services.

Clinician Krystal Kennedy Holding Sign

As a clinician with Child and Youth Behavioral Health, Krystal Kennedy says no two days are the same. Whether providing therapy, visiting families in at their homes, or advocating for a child’s needs in schools and courtrooms, every part of Krystal’s work week is spent helping youth overcome challenges and heal.

“Many of the children and adolescents we work with have experienced trauma,” Krystal said. “Their families come in, and they feel kind of hopeless.”

Clinician Krystal Kennedy with Patient Providing Play Therapy

That’s when Krystal and the members of her team at the City of Virginia Beach’s Department of Human Services begin connecting clients and their families with crisis services, medication and one-on-one counseling.

“It's very rewarding when you can connect with a kid and see them make progress,” Krystal said.

An increase in requests for adolescent counseling and advocacy services has created a high demand and an increase in jobs for clinicians, counselors and case workers.

“Mental health is such a huge need in this country, especially within the last several years,” she said. “There are just not enough workers providing those services.”

Since joining the City of Virginia Beach in 2009, Krystal has had many opportunities for personal and professional growth, including earning a Master’s degree.

“I had great supervisors who were flexible with me to be able to work toward that,” she said.

In her current role, Krystal is in the process of becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Her regular work week offers the supervision hours she needs for licensure. Additionally, her department offers many training opportunities, including evidence-based practices, parent/child interaction therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)—all trainings that are highly sought after in her field.

When working with youth who have experienced trauma becomes challenging, Krystal says her coworkers offer motivation and support.

“We have a phenomenal team,” she said. “Everybody is all about teamwork and assisting each other in whatever ways we can.”

The best part of her job, Krystal says, is the impact she’s able to make in her community. “The children and the families are the ones that do the work,” she said. “We have a sense of pride in them that they were able to utilize us as a resource to achieve their individual goals. It’s touching, and it’s rewarding to see."

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