Karina L. Lockhart, BA, Counselor, Services to At-Risk Youth
How long have you been with ACH?
I have been a counselor at ACH for five and a half years.
How did you know you wanted to spend your life helping youth and families?
I always knew I would do this. I was known as “the little lawyer” in my family because I was always defending and attempting to advocate for everybody. Summer camp, church and family were big influences.
What are some reasons your families seek counseling help at ACH?
I am bilingual so most of my clients are Latinos. Most families I serve are scared to ask for help. They fear things like being misunderstood and having their children taken from them. I love being able to empower them and provide resources. Many families have suffered some kind of trauma and are having difficulty coping. It is rewarding to be able to help them access resources they would otherwise not know to ask for.
I am so grateful to my mom for insisting I learn to speak Spanish. I have people in my family who are both first generation and second generation immigrants so I know first-hand where everyone might be coming from and hopefully can help bridge the gap.
What are some common misconceptions people have of the youth and families you work with?
Most people think that kids who are misbehaving just need more punishment. But behavior can be affected by experiences such as trauma and regular consequences just don’t work in those cases.
Most of the time, the parent is doing the best they can do with what they know and have. Once they realize there are other approaches or reasons for certain behavior, most are willing to incorporate different strategies.
Has being a parent yourself changed your perspective on counseling others?
Absolutely. While I always felt I was able to help parents and families, I now have deeper insight into the emotions and reality involved.
Are there certain youth or families you have helped that have really stuck out to you?
A couple of faces come to mind. One is a single Spanish-speaking mom who couldn’t read or write English or Spanish. Her son, who is now 15, scared her. He had lots of anger issues from being left by his father, but she was scared to seek help because she didn’t want her son to be taken from her. She has improved so much, as she has learned to parent without fear and understands she can ask for help.
Another is a young boy who experienced a tornado first-hand and developed a debilitating fear of storms. After working through the fear in counseling, he has since developed coping skills to manage his anxiety. Now he can still go to school and his parents can go to work when it rains.
How do you work collaboratively with other ACH programs and other agencies in North Texas?
Our program works very closely with other ACH programs like SafePlace and the Emergency Youth Shelter. We get many referrals from families in crisis who access these programs. If I need to refer out for assessments, I often work with the Excel Center because they also have a bilingual therapist.
ACH offers real help for real life by providing FREE Youth and Family Counseling and Skill Building Classes for youth up to age 17.