Jodi Mullen

Making children feel better though ‘play therapy'


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2008 Healthcare Hero
Jodi Ann Mullen
Mental Health Provider

Any biologist will tell you there's no clear delineation between the mind and the body. In some cases health, or illness, is a state of mind. This principle is especially important for children in their developmental years.

Children are just one subset of the population treated by Jodi Ann Mullen, director of Integrative Counseling Services in Oswego. She's also a professor in the Counseling Psychological Services Department at SUNY Oswego where she teaches graduate level courses. "Her effort and impact can be seen in the clients she serves as well as the clients that are seen by the people she trains and supervises," says Michael Mullen, her husband and colleague.

One of Mullen's specialties is "play therapy," a style of counseling that encourages children to express their feelings and thoughts in a context that is natural for them: fun and games. Mullen developed and coordinates a Play Therapy Clinic at Integrative Counseling. Through her professorship at the college, Mullen has helped trained hundreds of mental health professionals in this disarming but effective counseling method.

Mullen's efforts don't only positively affect children. She sees some of the most extreme adolescent and adult cases in the county, referred to her because of her reputation for competence and compassion. Mullen volunteers for Oswego County's Critical Incident Debriefing Team, which helps professionals who respond to traumatic incidences (EMTs, firemen, police officers) deal with the psychological and emotional fallout from those events.

Mullen says much evidence of the positive outcomes she helps create are best delivered in the words of those she's helped. A 17-year girl suffering from bulimia says of Mullen's practice, "This is the place I feel best about me." A mother of a sexually abused child credits Mullen with "getting her daughter back."

The Health Care Hero Award is the latest in a long line of recognitions Mullen has received. Her book "Counseling Children and Adolescents Through Grief and Loss" was awarded Book of the Year honors by The American Journal of Nursing in 2007. She received the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service award in 2006 from the Sigma Omicron Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. She's also a Oswego County Business Magazine's 2005 Forty Under 40 honoree.

"Jodi Mullen truly is a health care hero on many different levels," says Michael Mullen. "I feel qualified to comment because I am her husband and see the time and effort she puts into our community on a daily basis."
(By Chris Motola)