Meet Our Staff
Markell Kunzelman – Prevention Specialist
I’m a Prevention Specialist and have a Bachelors of Arts in Human Development and Family Science from Messiah College. I am also a Certified Family Life Educator (provisional) or CFLE-P. In addition to that certification, I have been taking classes to be able to apply to be a Certified Family Recovery Specialist (CFRS) in PA. My role is to run groups in York County public schools (primarily elementary and middle) to teach children about healthy choices and to give them the skills to be resilient as they grow and face life’s challenges. In order to do all of that we have to network with school counselors and social workers in order to make connections with various schools in the area. We have to prepare lots of activities and lessons before groups begin and therefore aren’t often in the office.
I started at TrueNorth as an intern in Prevention during my last semester of college and came on as a part-time Prevention Specialist a few months later. That was two years ago and now I am full-time. My work is important because by involving myself in children’s lives now, even if only for an hour a week, I hope to instill in them skills and knowledge to help them make the right decisions when they are faced with challenges in the future. I have always loved working with children and teaching them things, so this job has been a perfect fit.
I enjoy visiting a variety of schools and meeting different children and teachers. My favorite part about working at TrueNorth is my coworkers. Everyone is unique and interesting, and I think my direct co-workers are a great fit!
For fun, I like to watch TV and movies, color, go to my bible study, and hang out with my friends. I also enjoy hosting game nights and bonfires.
Random background information – I live on a farm in Baltimore County and work at Panera Bread in Shrewsbury.
Program Feature: Functional Family Therapy
FFT is the acronym for Functional Family Therapy. This is an in-home, evidenced based, family therapy model for youth ages 10-18 and their families. FFT is designed for youth who display externalizing behaviors such as: substance abuse, violence and aggression, truancy, oppositional and defiance towards authority. Many of the youth involved with FFT are already in the Juvenile Justice System, but FFT may be used to prevent system involvement. FFT uses a phase-based, therapeutic model that has a very specific beginning, middle and end to motivate families for change, teach skills, and to generalize these skills to other settings. Prior to discharge, families will develop relapse prevention and recovery plans to assist when stressors occur that could set the family back to old, negative patterns. FFT in Pennsylvania for FY18/19 had a 73% completion rate with positive outcomes of 93%, which is above the national FFT averages.
FFT plays an important role within the umbrella of the agency’s mission and vision to inspire hope within families and offer different pathways for improved family functioning. The power of family therapy is underestimated in the behavioral health system. TrueNorth Wellness is the only provider providing FFT services in the areas we serve.
In February of 2018, FFT expanded services into the Capital Area. Prior to this, FFT has served the Counties of York and Adams for about 8 years. The growth in the Capital Area has allowed FFT to serve 5 additional Counties (Lancaster, Lebanon, Cumberland, Perry, and Dauphin). This expansion project required an additional team of therapists with a new clinical lead. This was a huge accomplishment for everyone involved!
Our current challenge is referrals! Typically, the summer months are slow with referrals and high with cancellations and no-shows. This year was no different. Our referral stream is beginning to build again in October and we are desperately working to ensure all therapists have a full caseload. One of the more consistent challenges with our department is that FFT is one of the best kept secrets in town. Since we are the only provider offering this service, many people aren’t quite sure what FFT really is. We are consistently educating families and providers about FFT. This really isn’t a problem because we are passionate about FFT and we enjoy talking about the good work we are doing.
What We’re Working On
Research shows that positive outcomes are directly related to FFT model adherence. Our program is working hard ensure the program has high model integrity by offering additional clinical support to therapists and creating program practices that are consistent with model expectations.
The current goal after this recent growth spurt is to ensure both FFT teams are functioning well and providing high quality FFT services to the families we serve while remaining financially sustainable.