Mental Health Warrior: Kat Chester

Originally Kat Chester saw herself working as a lawyer on behalf of sex trafficking survivors. This vision changed the summer of her junior year of college when she had the opportunity to intern at a shelter for adult survivors of sex trafficking. Chester went in as a legal intern but was reluctantly swayed to assist within direct services.

The CEO within this organization recognized Kat’s natural ability to mediate, shape, and care for the residents. Chester was intrigued and encouraged to delve deeper into direct services.

Despite her interest and efforts, Kat said she began to feel hopeless. Seeing person after person rescued from a trafficking situation only to return to their lives and unhealthy behaviors weighed heavily on Chester. This led to an interest in working with youth. By working with those who have their whole life ahead, Chester was able to recapture her hope.

“It became clear to me that if I wanted to ‘follow the hope’ I would need to work with youth or teens.”

That’s one of the reasons Kat chose to pursue a masters in social work at Radford University.

She is now serving as a counseling intern at Family Service of Roanoke Valley. She is particularly interested in play therapy. Play therapy is a counseling approach allowing children who have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, or those who have attachment or behavioral issues, to process and deal with their challenges. Another part of her role is to help parents understand what their child is experiencing and how parents can be supportive.

“My role as the clinician is to go with the child on this journey and continually create a space he/she can process and discover in.” 

Kat enjoys working with young children because she can see they are still filled with hope. She also loves being a part of providing them with tools that will shape the rest of their lives. She is well on her way to touching the lives of many more young children as she continues to work through her master of social work candidacy.

“There is so much hope in early intervention and I am honored to play a small part in that for these children.”

Her favorite quote comes from Dr. Seuss:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”