Employee Spotlight: Kaitlyn Fridmanski
When Kaitlyn Fridmanski heard about Discovery Ranch for Girls (DRG), she felt like she had come home. The other staff members were friendly and welcoming. But, more importantly, Kaitlyn felt that she had spent all of her life preparing to work at a place like DRG, where she could help teenage girls. As a therapist, Kaitlyn knew she could make a difference in the lives of these young women.
A Desire to Make a Difference
Never an underachiever, Kaitlyn completed two undergraduate degrees–and one of the two degrees was a double major. Her undergraduate degrees are in Psychology and a double major in Communications and Health and Interpersonal. After Kaitlyn completed her undergraduate work, she knew that she wanted to work in psychology. However, she did not know which path she wanted to take in psychology.
After Kaitlyn completed her undergraduate work, she decided to see Europe. She obtained a position working as an au pair. Kaitlyn enjoyed working with the children and helping them to master English. Her experience as an au pair made Kaitlyn realize that she had a gift for working with youth.
“I feel like teenagers are in that phase of finding themselves, so you really have the ability to have an effect on their lives [when you work with teens],” said Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn took a job working for a pharmaceutical research company. While she was there, part of her job was coordinating with the therapist. Kaitlyn watched the way the patients who saw the therapist improved over time. Therapy was making a positive difference in their lives. Kaitlyn wanted to be part of making a difference.
A New Adventure
While Kaitlyn was in graduate school, she worked with adolescents. She helped teens to improve their self-esteem and to thrive academically. She loved working with young people so much that she knew that was what she wanted to do once she graduated. Kaitlyn could not find many opportunities working with youth in Florida, but she was undeterred.
Kaitlyn loves to travel. Going to new places has been part of her life since she was a child. Because her family often moved around due to her father’s job, Kaitlyn knew what it was like to pick up and move to a new place. She knew that she would be able to adapt and make new friends.
When Kaitlyn learned about DRG, she was excited. The school seemed to offer a variety of new experiences. Kaitlyn had never lived in Utah, or even in the western United States. She had also never worked at a residential facility. Kaitlyn saw the differences as exciting opportunities. She was delighted when she was hired as a therapist at DRG.
A Place of Honesty and Openness
Kaitlyn starts most of her days at DRG by answering parents emails and phone calls. Because DRG has students from across the country, this involves a lot of early mornings to accommodate the time differences.
After reaching out to clients’ families, Kaitlyn spends her time leading individual or group therapy sessions. Adapting to working in a residential setting has been a fascinating experience for Kaitlyn. The experience is different from private practice, where therapists would see their clients far less often than therapists at residential facilities.
Kaitlyn has found the community of people who work at residential facilities, and DRG in particular, to be warm and welcoming. They are always willing to help with matters personal or professional. During the holidays, Kaitlyn had no shortage of invitations to family dinners. When Kaitlyn is concerned with a professional matter, she knows she has a community to turn to for help.
“They know that there is a lot to learn and they don’t expect you to learn it all at once,” said Kaitlyn. “I learn something new every day.”
As a therapist working at DRG, Kaitlyn can see the difference that she is making in the lives of others. Her warm, accepting attitude makes it easier for her clients to open up to her.
“I never come from a judgemental place. Instead, I always come from a place of honesty and openness,” said Kaitlyn. “I just want [the girls] to be themselves. ”