Staff Spotlight: For Clinician Beth Conway, “There’s no place I’d rather be”

When we asked members of our Social Services team to share their thoughts about working at Latham, Clinician Beth Conway, ATR-BC (licensed art therapist), provided a moving response. Beth’s reflections follow:

“Latham isn’t just a job. Latham isn’t just an agency. When you have the common goal of caring for a bunch of lovable children 24 hours a day at a beautiful place like Cape Cod, Latham is a family.

This first became evident to me when I first moved up from New York to work at Latham the winter of 2004. We were hit with a blizzard with 3 feet of snow. I shoveled out my car and drove to work. I didn’t have a chance to get proper gear for a New England blizzard, so I wore plastic rain boots. By the time I got to work, my feet were soaking wet and cold. Going into survival mode, I peeled off my wet socks and wrapped my feet in toilet paper. I set out to check in with the students when I came across the day supervisor. I relayed my toilet paper story and she looked at me and with indignation stated, “We might not have power (we now have generators), I might be working 24 hours straight, but you are not going to have toilet paper wrapped around your feet!” She proceeded to pull out a clean pair of socks from her desk and insisted that I wear them. She is now one of my closest friends. I always keep a spare set of socks and a T-shirt in my desk drawer, not just for myself, but should any one of my teammates be in need.

I witnessed this same feeling reflected in the therapeutic groups that I have run. One day in a group for teenage girls with a history of trauma, we were taking turns passing a talking stick. The talking stick was used to help focus the attention of the group and give each member a listening audience. One of the more outspoken girls, I’ll call “Layla” announced that “At Latham, for the first time I have friends.” Several passes at the stick later we came to “Tara” who stayed quiet for what felt like several minutes while we waited in anticipation. And when she spoke, the only words she said were, “I agree with Layla”. To me, that said it all: Latham had given them a safe space to make friends and to let themselves be heard for the first time.

I’m inspired by the courage and strength students have in individual therapy. Once when working with a young woman with Prader-Willi syndrome, she expressed her anger about having such a debilitating genetic disorder. She was engaged in play therapy with a knight and a dragon. I suggested a fairytale in which the knight built his strength in order to slay the dragon. (This model can be used to help individuals overcome their challenges.) She pondered for a moment and looked at me and said in earnest, “Can’t I just make friends with the dragon?” I looked at her and replied wholeheartedly, “Yes, I think that’s a better option! Let’s make friends with the Dragon.” In essence, YES, it’s better to “make friends” with one’s demons rather than to suppress them.

So, for these past nearly 14 years, I keep coming back to Latham each day, trying in some small way to help these young people become stronger and more whole. In doing so, I do the same for myself. There’s no place I’d rather be.” ~Submitted by Beth Conway, September 2018.

Thank you, Beth – the entire Latham community is grateful for your years of service and your beautifully written reflections! (Please note that names have been changed in the interest of student privacy.)


Photo caption: Beth and Indigo enjoy last year’s Halloween Parade on campus.

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