Rachel O’Brien
Year
2019
Chapter
Position
Washington County Mental Health Services, PBIS Clinician

Rachel O’Brien is a Case Manager and Positive Behavior Intervention Services Clinician for Washington County Mental Health in Barre, Vermont. This role allows her to provide mental health services to a low-income, high-need school on a daily basis. Creating social-emotional competence in children, families, and care providers is the most important work we can do to prevent the trauma cycle. Rachel engages in daily intervention with kids, using her office to create a safe space where kids can express their needs and emotions, whether it is joy and excitement or anger, sadness and frustration. This work also includes creating systems to accurately collect data on students social and emotional behaviors and whether behavioral modification techniques are working. Rachel’s assessment of these data systems helps her to evaluate if her interventions are fostering growth in the student.

Rachel’s professional duties often also include providing training and consultation to school leadership within the district and to out-of-district schools looking to model the systems that Rachel has implemented. She also teaches to whole school faculties and provides training and consultation to support staff working directly with students. These topics are wide-ranging, from teaching educators to be trauma-informed, to crisis de-escalation, as well as data collection and analysis.

Rachel attended the Maine School of Science and Mathematics for her junior and senior year of high school. This academically competitive boarding school in northern Maine triggered a love of math and data that continues to be a large part of Rachel's life. After high school, she started at Unity College and on a whim took Intro to Education where the required reading was Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. This education has served as a foundation for Rachel's educational philosophy: When a child's needs are met at the base level, then any child can achieve their goals.

Rachel also volunteers with the Vermont Food Bank, and is a volunteer coach with Girls on the Run Northern Vermont. In her free time, she loves to cook meals to share with friends, travel to different parts of the country, and complain about running.