AmeriCorps Member of the Month – Elena “Lanie” Henderson

July, 2020

Each month we recognize an AmeriCorps member serving in Utah for going above and beyond the pledge they took to “Get Things Done.” This month we are proud to recognize Elena “Lanie” Henderson who is serving with the BYU Family Home and Social Science (FHSS) AmeriCorps program.

Lanie Henderson is a fourth year PhD student in Brigham Young University’s Clinical Psychology program and is completing an AmeriCorps term of service within Mountainlands Family Health Center. Lanie has worked with marginalized populations in the Utah community, particularly Spanish-speaking immigrants and those with serious mental illness. She has been called to train full-time staff in evidence-based psychotherapy and has provided support in multicultural competence for diverse populations. Lanie’s skills in psychotherapy have served 130 diverse clients and their families over the past year, ranging from crisis management to long-term outpatient care. An extensive caseload is difficult for any professional psychotherapist, but Lanie has dealt with these situations in a mindful, compassionate, and professional manner. 

According to Lisa Norton, Lanie’s site supervisor, “[Lanie has] been the epitome of dedication and sensitivity.” In addition to her clinical hours, Lanie also teaches the occasional class at BYU. While Lisa doesn’t often hear student feedback about instructors, Lanie’s classes stand out and students often relate that she is a sensitive and caring teacher and makes her classes magic. It is clear that she dedicates the same amount of passion and care to her therapy sessions as she does inside the classroom to motivate and encourage her students.

Melissa Jones, one of Lanie’s previous supervisors, also commented on what drives Lanie in her work. “One of the things that I think is especially amazing about Lanie is just the level of her passion and caring for traditionally marginalized people. In any intervention or any protocol, Lanie is always thinking of how this would apply to people who maybe don’t have the resources that other people have.”

Lanie clearly stays busy with her teaching and extensive case-load, but she graciously took some time to answer a few questions about her AmeriCorps service:

Why did you choose to serve as an AmeriCorps member?
I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps member because I wanted to invest in the Utah community, especially marginalized populations that have limited access to mental health services.

What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge serving as an AmeriCorps member has been self-assessment and self-reflection as a service member. In order to best serve my community, I needed to develop confidence in my abilities and be honest about my limitations. I had been advised by four supervisors to develop more self-confidence before serving for AmeriCorps. To do so, I read, practiced, and learned as much as I could about multicultural psychotherapy. 
I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy in February 2019 and needed to find a balance between managing my own health and caring for others. These challenges have motivated me to be compassionate to myself and others when mistakes happen. 

What has been your biggest motivation?
My biggest motivation for serving as an AmeriCorps member has been to become closer with my community. Utah is my home and I want to better understand and support those who share that home with me. I want to invest in Utah and contribute to it becoming a more supportive and welcoming place for all people.

How has your AmeriCorps service helped you prepare for your career?
My AmeriCorps service has helped me prepare for my career by allowing me to work with diverse populations, particularly by conducting Spanish psychotherapy. This opportunity opens doors for my future clinical work, particularly in expanding resources for the Hispanic community.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining the BYU FHSS AmeriCorps program?
AmeriCorps offers opportunities to get involved and make a difference at the individual level. I have found few things more rewarding than investing in my community.

We extend our congratulations to Lanie for being recognized as the AmeriCorps Member of the Month and thank her for her dedicated service to Utah communities.

What is AmeriCorps?
AmeriCorps is your moment to take the path less traveled, to break the status quo, to stop talking about the problem and be the solution. Join AmeriCorps and you can mentor and tutor kids, rebuild a community after disaster, help veterans, or work with local communities to alleviate poverty. There are thousands of opportunities to choose from, find the one that fits you.
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