Be the one rebuilding lives

Jana Jesson manages a child sexual abuse intervention program. She credits her education at JIBC with giving her effective tools to help empower her clients as they rebuild their lives. (Story by Wanda Chow / Photo by Jimmy Jeong)


Clinical counsellor Jana Jesson helps trauma survivors rebuild their lives one step at a time.

It was while studying at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), learning how to use guided imagery exercises with survivors of trauma, that Jana recognized the technique could be useful for one of her clients.

“With my instructor’s guidance, I created an exercise that made such a difference for my client in terms of her being able to ground herself when she was becoming triggered or anxious. Eventually she was able to take that exercise and translate it into her own daily routine.”

She discovered earlier a passion for working with trauma survivors while completing a master’s degree in counselling psychology. It’s that sort of reward – seeing clients emerge better able to deal with past trauma with less anxiety and distress – that led Jana to her current role managing the Sexual Abuse Intervention Program based out of the North Delta office of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC.

It was her managers there that suggested she take the two-year Graduate Certificate in Complex Trauma and Child Sexual Abuse Intervention at JIBC.

“The JIBC program is very well known in my field and given that my job title is working with children and youth specifically, they thought the child sexual abuse prevention part of the JIBC program would be important for me to have in addition to my training.“

Among the most valuable lessons of the program for Jana is to focus on a client-centred approach, as well as a positive and safe therapeutic alliance, regardless of what’s in the counsellor’s therapy “tool kit.” It was also stressed that one model of treatment doesn’t fit all. Or, as her instructors said, “Don’t marry one model, date them all!”

“The JIBC program and my instructors provided me with the specific clinical expertise needed in order to do my job effectively, and the support I received from them truly has made an enormous positive change in my practice.”

An added bonus was meeting other counsellors involved in the same type of work, helping create a network of people who understand and support each other in doing the stressful type of work they do.

JIBC not only helped Jana to care for her clients, it taught her how to take care of herself too.

“In terms of personal growth, the assignments that we were given encouraged a level of insight and reflection that I had not experienced before in an educational setting. I found that once I used the tools we learned on myself, I had a better understanding of how to use such therapeutic techniques when working with my clients,” Jana said. “Since finishing the program, I have incorporated self-care into my daily life, which has drastically improved my overall stress level and has allowed me to be more present both with my clients and in my personal life.”

For Jana, knowing she’s helped someone move on with their lives is its own gift.

“This is heavy work, but the joy I feel when I see a client create positive change for themselves and become empowered individuals really is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had.”


For more information on counselling courses and programs, visit JIBC Centre for Counselling and Community Safety.


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