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: Ethan Laing

What is your role and title at Trillium?

I am a Medical Records Technician, primarily responsible for maintaining files, records and health related documents for the clients at Trillium.

How long have you been with the organization?  

A little more than 1.5 years.

Why does mental health matter to you?

My family is not particularly versed in emotional awareness. I grew up not knowing I had mental health issues and not knowing how to cope with everyday stress. I try to use myself as an example of how important acknowledging mental health is and of the benefits emotional awareness can yield.

What made you want to work at Trillium initially?

First – I used to manage an assisted living home for adults and I had a lot of fulfillment from that job. I thought it would be an interesting opportunity to work with kids. Second – I needed the money and I was burned-out of cooking gigs (pun totally intended).

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

Other than what I mentioned before regarding the importance of emotional awareness, I get to see the data tracking our successes. One of the major positives of my position is that I get the opportunity to play with various databases and find trends. Time after time, I find evidence that what we do here works.

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

When I worked on unit, I used to really get along with one particular an Autism-spectrum client. Unfortunately, they were picked on a lot by the other clients and they had a very difficult time regulating their emotions. One of the greatest experiences of my life was working with other staff to identify patterns in small victories with this client. Eventually, we got to the point where the client would get angry, take a step back, and proclaim they were angry. This was huge. The client even came up with a code word for us to use for times when they didn’t recognize they needed to back away from a situation. I genuinely feel like that progress was only possible because of the hard work and passion of the staff I worked with.

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

It’s teaching individuals how to not only cope with trauma, but also to how to recognize that they aren’t their trauma. It’s acknowledging that an individual is the product of their environment, and to allow them to grow and heal within a safe environment.

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

I would say the Sanctuary model has given me a new lens to look through. Sanctuary is a philosophy, and like any good philosophy, it gives me the ability to approach problems with a different tactic and gives me the opportunity to ask questions I may not have thought of. To me, it’s less about following steps on how to interact and operate, and more of a tool to increase your awareness of the effectiveness of interactions and operations.

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

We save lives. We save the lives of our clients. We save the lives of their families. We save each other’s lives. We save lives of those who may not even know they’re in danger, and those who sometimes no longer want to live. We save 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?

The first accomplishment I’m really proud of, is the story I already mentioned about the client I worked with on the unit. However, specifically in regards to the Records department, I am most proud of the reports I developed. My goal is to become a data scientist and this job has given me boundless opportunities to practice my skill. I feel proud that I get to provide a service that while is in the far background of our client’s lives, helps support staff in making important decisions for our organization.


Any interesting facts that you’d like to share?

One of my favorite hobbies is to learn new hobbies. I like to dabble and I truly believe that variety is the spice of life.

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

The most important thing you can do in mental health, and in life, is to face the unknown and to listen to those around you.


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 w

ould be willing to share?

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams

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