Trillium Family Services is Oregon’s largest provider of mental and behavioral healthcare for children and families. From residential psychiatric treatment to mental health advocacy in the streets, Trillium is committed to transforming our state into a safer, more supportive place for ALL people to live, work, play and learn.

This ongoing employee spotlight blog series features some of the many caring, talented people it takes to Keep Oregon Well at Trillium Family Services!


Trillium Family Spotlight on: Caylee Van Schenck

What is your role and title at Trillium?

Training Coordinator – I oversee the Relias online training database, problem solve compliance issues and field questions regarding employee training.

How long have you been with the organization?  

Almost six months.

Why does mental health matter to you?

Like so many others, I grew up in a dysfunctional family with many destructive patterns of interaction and conflict. Becoming an adult has involved recognizing these for what they were and overcoming them slowly to pursue personal health and wellness. I have a strong empathic desire to see others heal from their pasts as well, so that they can live full, healthy and joyful lives.

What made you want to work at Trillium initially?

A (very long term) goal of mine is to return to school to become a trauma therapist, combining a study of the Arabic language and MENA cultures with a study of psychology and trauma so as to specialize in refugee/immigrant therapy. Trillium’s adherence to a trauma-informed method of care drew me in right away because I saw it as an ideal starting place for me to learn more and grow toward this goal.

What are some of the reasons you continue to believe in this work?

Taking the three-day Sanctuary course here at Trillium was like a breath of fresh air. Knowing that, in this place, caretakers have shifted from a “What’s wrong with you?” mentality to a “What happened to you?” mentality gives me hope and confidence that the mental health field will continue to strive for understanding and empathy, resulting in true and lasting healing for those who need this kind of support.

Tell me about a time when you felt that Trillium had truly made a difference in someone’s life?

During Sanctuary training, an example was given of a client who performed frequent reenactments of her prior trauma. The staff decided to come around her and each took on a role in her reenactment so that, after a time, instead of repeating the trauma in her head without resolution, she was able to face her past externally from herself and overcome it. Wow.

How would you describe trauma-informed care to someone who had never heard of it?

A perspective shift in mental health providers from diagnosis-based interaction to history-based interaction. It’s the shift from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

Has Sanctuary changed your experience of working at Trillium?  If so, how?

Having only worked at Trillium for six months, my whole experience has involved the Sanctuary training and model from the start. I have seen it in action, and can’t imagine working here without it. I’ve especially been touched by the commitment to “democracy/shared governance”–I feel valued and respected as an employee despite my junior status–and the SELF component of “future”–seeing the employees around me direct kids toward hoping for the future and reaching their goals.

If you could only tell the world one thing about the work we do here at Trillium, what would it be?

Trillium practices courageous empathy, reaching to members of our society who are the most deeply disturbed and hurting in order to provide holistic healing at the individual and societal level–Trillium saves lives.

This is kind-of an awkward question, I know…but I want you to take just a moment to brag on yourself and the work you do. What are you most proud of having accomplished during your time with the organization?

I’ve enjoyed being part of a tight-knit team here in the Training Department. From the start, I have been given a generous amount of freedom to problem solve and come up with creative and exciting ideas for making trainings more accessible to staff. I love learning on the fly, spreading my creative wings, and providing quality training support to instructors and learners alike. Some of my greatest accomplishments have been creating from scratch several different guides and visual tools for making training more understandable and improving compliance. I look forward to new challenges, taking on additional responsibility and stepping into more of an instructor role in the next few months.

Any interesting facts that you’d like to share?

There are many things I want to be when I grow up! Motivational speaker, hair stylist, welder, trauma therapist, instructor at a community college, author, international journalist, communications specialist, director of a youth program, professional singer/songwriter.

Do you have any advice for people looking to become mental health advocates or explore a career in behavioral health?

Not yet–I’m still gathering it myself!

During all of our community meetings at Trillium we close with an inspirational or thought-provoking quote.  To close our chat today, do you have a favorite quote you would be willing to share?

An excerpt from my favorite poem: “I said to my friend, who was a great weaver, ‘Show me a picture of life’ And the weaver weaved, and made a prism. ‘It is not enough!’ I cried, and the weaver smiled and turned it to the light.”

1 Comment

  • DeeDee Gordon November 22nd, 2017

    We are so very fortunate to have Caylee as a member of the Trillium family. She is bright, motivated and a joy to work with!! Thank you for all you do, Caylee!

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