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When all else fails, he is ready to serve: Helping at-risk youth

The at-risk youth that Dr. Mitchell Sandy’s agency serves are some of our nation’s most vulnerable. The Chicago School alumnus’ job is to give them hope, and help them stay on track.

The young people that Dr. Mitchell Sandy works with every day have fallen through every safety net our society provides. Success is hard to measure. But when it comes, The Chicago School alumnus says there is nothing more rewarding.

“The youth that we work with are very at-risk kids,” explains Dr. Sandy, vice president of health and residential services at Lawrence Hall, a Chicago nonprofit agency that serves the needs of young people who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. “Sometimes you won’t know you’ve succeeded until a couple of years later and they come back to visit you.”

For these kids, a happy ending could be something as simple as finding a job or a stable, long-term living situation—things most people take for granted.

A state-licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Sandy has devoted his career to serving this very fragile, underserved population.

“I deal with extremely acute cases of complex trauma,” Dr. Sandy continues. “They are abuse and neglect cases; most of them have gone from 5 to 10 different placement or detention centers. They have extraordinary attachment difficulties, and typically their education achievement is lower than those not involved in child welfare. Complex trauma and child welfare involvement have really long lasting psychiatric and behavioral issues. We usually don’t get them until they are 8 or older and by that point, the resiliency factor is a big piece of what can make a kid successful for us.”

A state-licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Sandy has devoted his career to serving this very fragile, underserved population.

A perfect fit

He was working in a similar agency when he chose to pursue his Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology at TCSPP. For him, it was an easy choice. “Based on my personal interests and beliefs, The Chicago School was a perfect fit for me,” says Dr. Sandy, who serves as vice chair of the TCSPP Alumni Council and regularly recommends the school to prospective students. “I really think you get a breadth of experience and really get exposed to invested faculty who are experts in their area of interest.”

Dr. Sandy also plays an active part in the student and alumni network by helping to facilitate internships and practicums for TCSPP students with his Lawrence Hall agency. It’s his way of paying it forward.

“At the place where I ended up getting employment after graduating from The Chicago School, my supervisor was a TCSPP graduate. He knew a couple of my references and I know he called them. So that had a lot to do with why I got the job,” he says.

“The networking is a big piece that makes The Chicago School what it is.”

Dr. Sandy expects to devote the remainder of his career to doing what he does each day—helping society’s most vulnerable youth heal and find their place in the world.

“It’s inspiring to know that little moment of time when I was interfacing with a kid would have a lasting impact on them,” he says. “Those are the moments that don’t come often, but they are the reason we do the things we do.”


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