COVID and hitting 50 years of age prompted a former speech therapist to make a career shift. Stuart Meyer has been working with the Lincoln County Child Advocacy Center as a contract forensic interviewer since December of last year.
“I did home-based therapy for kids under three until COVID hit,” she said. “Doing therapy through Zoom wasn’t ideal. If the child was an only child, it was okay, but a lot of my families have multiple children, and it was very stressful. I decided to start my Doctor of Education in traumatology. I wasn’t working a lot, so I called to see what the child advocacy center was all about.”
That phone call led to Meyer taking the classes that she needed and then coming on as a contract forensic interviewer. That she was working towards a degree in traumatology and the child advocacy center works with traumatized children, it was a perfect fit. Because she’s working on an as needed basis as a contract therapist, she has time to focus on her education as well.
“As a speech therapist, I sat on the floor with kids to get them to communicate and learn out to talk and that has transitioned to listening and encouraging kids to talk about what’s happened to them,” she said. “My skills as a speech therapist have been put to good use. We do have kids with special needs who come through here but also, when a child goes through trauma, their development abilities for communication usually go down. They’re stressed, uptight or anxious, so a child who might typically talk in a full sentence might shorten that to short phrases or words.”
With this new position, Meyer has been able to continue to work with kids which she loves.
“I ‘played’ with my speech therapy kids,” she said. “In this environment, my role is to listen. I start with very open-ended questions and then move into something more specific and concrete.”
Through the work she’s doing in traumatology, Meyer wants to develop new ways of treating children who have been through trauma so they can make progress through therapy faster.
Meyer’s husband is a pastor at Denver Baptist, and she’s involved in the children’s ministry there.
“I enjoy working with kids in any way,” she said. “I think that it’s crucial as a community to continue to build up families and encourage kids. The more kids know that they’re valued and loved, the less likely that they’ll be sucked into some unhealthy relationships which may lead to traumatic and abusive behaviors. Anything that we can do as a community as a church or otherwise is great because it’s supporting kids.”