Frances Colón's job description includes terms like "social work" and "therapy," but that doesn't cover all that her work at Children's Hospital Boston entails. On any given day, she might be found at a local high school advising students through the Children's Hospital Neighborhood Partnership (CHNP) Program, conducting research on the local Latino community or counseling HIV-positive youth through Children's Boston Happens program.
Colón, originally from Long Island, began working here in 2003, while in the second year of her Master's program at Boston University. Earlier, she'd completed an internship with the Latino Team in Children's Psychiatry Department. Guatemalan and Puerto Rican in heritage, she's passionate about working with the local Latino population in a therapeutic setting. "I'm very appreciative of my parents' gift of teaching me Spanish and teaching me about the Latino culture," she says. "That's really helped me connect with Latino patients during therapy sessions." Colón also works with ethnically diverse children, adolescents and parents at Fenway High School, where she holds therapy sessions with the students.
While Colón certainly wears many hats, she's especially passionate about her Boston Happens work, where she provides individual, group and crisis therapy services to HIV positive youth and victims of sexual assault. "In the program, they're able to be themselves and feel less stigmatized," she says. "They don't have to carry a heavy secret." Clearly, many members think so, too. One teen sums up how many feel, saying, "I have a lot of friends in school, but I don't feel close to them—they're not family like my friends in group."
Colón's current research project, which she's working on with William Beardslee, MD, academic chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, and the Latino Team, is designed to benefit the Latino population—both here and overseas. Called Adapting and Piloting the Prevention Intervention Project for Families with Depression for a Latino Population, it involves collecting data throughout a series of sessions with Latino children who have a depressed parent. Colón appreciates the opportunity to collect useful research data and also, when needed, intervene and help the families. "I like being in the community and providing services to families who normally wouldn't have them," she says.