Creating Safe Spaces

Amy Reineke

While studying at Bushnell University, Brittney Reineke ’12, M.A. ’15 chose to serve on a mission trip to Cambodia, an experience that helped her discover her calling and shape her career. Having earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and graduate degree in counseling at Bushnell, Reineke uses the skills she cultivated to serve the community in the Portland area. In this Q&A, Reineke provides insights into her journey as a counselor and how her calling creates supportive and safe spaces.

What drew you to a career as a counselor and your role in the Portland area?

Serving with AIM, during the Mission Trip to Cambodia, helped to solidify my career. There were so many organizations that were helping to rescue and restore women out of sex-trafficking and it made me wonder who was helping the men that were buying the girls? What has happened in their lives to make them think it is okay to come over here and buy innocent children? It was then that I realized what my calling was. After getting married, my husband and I moved to Portland after a job offer he received. At the time I did not know where I was going to work but I knew that I wanted to be working in a particular specialty.

What does a typical day look like as a counselor? What type of candidates are you and your team seeking, and how do you go about finding the best candidates?

I start my day by checking and responding to emails. Once this is complete I will either check in with other team members or begin to see clients. I am currently in the role of a Clinical Supervisor so my caseload is smaller, but I will generally see 15-18 clients a week. Other clinicians will average 19-25 a week. My day normally starts at 9am and ends at 5pm with a half day on Fridays. We are always looking to grow our field. Our team began with only 4 clinicians and we have developed into a team of 16. When we hire, we look for someone who can be a team member, who can be a learner, and who can be open to feedback. During the interview process we look for those who have a heart to serve others. This job is not for the weary, so I would also say that we also look for those who have a high level of self-awareness and compassion for others.

What do you do as a counselor?

I am a Certified Clinical Sex Offender Therapist (CCSOT). Higher Ground Counseling is a clinic broken into three different groups. We offer therapy for clients who have engaged in Illegal Sexual Behavior (ISB), Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB) and who have been victims of sexual abuse. We work with a lot of families where familial abuse has occurred. For the mental balance of our clinicians we also offer a few general mental health counseling slots for the community. We offer Talk therapy, Family therapy, Play Therapy and Neurofeedback. Most of our clients are mandated to do therapy so we work closely with Juvenile Departments, DHS and Victim Advocates all throughout Oregon.

Why is your job industry so important?

Our job industry helps to bring families back together. We help young teens from perpetrating more abuse, having to enter into the adult system, and avoiding registering as a Sex Offender. We also help victims become survivors, while providing a space for them to feel heard and valued.

What drew you to Bushnell and the university program? What are some of the key ways in which the program helped prepare you for your career?

The small classes are what drew me to the University and their faith-based programs are what made me stay. Not only was I seen but I was believed and invested in. I very well could have fallen through the cracks at a bigger University. The Professors and staff invested their time and energy into helping to develop my character.

With your experience, what advice would you give to students who are about to earn a degree and enter the job market?

I would encourage students to lean into the opportunities that Bushnell has to offer. I feel fortunate to have found a calling not just a career. So many adults have landed successful jobs that leave them feeling empty. Use your time at the University to reflect on the gifts that God provided you with and He will guide you to your purpose.

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