Brain science at work

by North Texas Catholic

June 25, 2020

Kimberly LawrenceKimberly Lawrence
Kimberly Lawrence, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for Catholic Charities, holds a collection of books that has helped in her research to improve the lives of Catholic Charities clients, at their offices in Fort Worth, March 06, 2020. (NTC/Ben Torres)


To be a Catholic Charities Fort Worth client, colleague, or volunteer working side by side with Kimberly Lawrence, LCSW, is to feel safe within the supportive embrace of her twinkling-eyed humor, her air of humility, and her empathetic gaze. 

It is to be uplifted by what she calls her “absolute belief in the necessity of lots of laughter, because it resets your nervous system.” It is to observe both her gentleness and grit as she sits with clients — those who suffer trauma, abuse, violence, dislocation, and grinding poverty — and also leads her team in practicing the evidence-based ways in which such social sins can be effectively healed.

Healed one person, one family at a time, through the transforming power of CCFW’s holistic approach to eradicating poverty. Such an approach is grounded in a profound understanding of the ways in which adversity rewires developing brains, creating long-term obstacles in learning and behavioral patterns.

Writing for both CCFW’s own blog and for the national Catholic Charities USA website, Lawrence, who has worked at CCFW for the past 10 years, explained, “Many of our clients have lived in fight-or-flight survival mode for their whole lives. In typical brain development, emotion regulation supports growth in planning and cognition. But, if the brain switches into survival gear, the lights go out in the cortex, and there’s very little capacity to focus on more than today.”

In helping clients build new neural pathways and healthy habits that lead to stability and success, Lawrence added, “Case managers must understand that poverty is not a character defect. Clients don’t need to try harder; they need to develop functions they’ve never been given room to develop before.”

Lawrence relishes what she calls the privilege of watching clients find their voices, see their own potential, and seek healing. 

“Our approach here at Catholic Charities is always about growing and evolving,” she said. “We’ve created a culture of learning. And that benefits both our staff members and those we serve.”

CCFW’s Padua Pilot program is in its third year of successful and “supercharged” case management, working to lift individuals and families out of poverty. To learn more, call 817-534-0814 or visit CatholicCharitiesFortWorth.org.

 

Kimberly Lawrence

To be a Catholic Charities Fort Worth client, colleague, or volunteer working side by side with Kimberly Lawrence, LCSW, is to feel safe within the supportive embrace of her twinkling-eyed humor, her air of humility, and her empathetic gaze. 

Published (until 6/25/2033)
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