To make an appointment or for more information, please call 833-4HOPEC4

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call or text 988

To request a mobile crisis response, please call (872) 235-0600


Employee Spotlight: Klaudia Carpenter

We sat down with Director of Community and Rapid Response Klaudia Carpenter to talk about her role and the philosophy of care. Carpenter brings a diverse skillset to C4 and years of experience in crisis management.

C4: Let’s start by having you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do at C4

Klaudia Carpenter: So my name is Klaudia Carpenter. I am the Director of Community and Rapid Response Services at C4. What that means is I manage a lot of the crises programs at C4. So some people know of SASS and that’s probably the one that people know of predominantly because it’s one of the older or oldest crisis programs. But I also manage the team for 988, Lifeline call centers, which is a lot of times crisis, but suicidality as well. That one is mostly our call center mostly handles a lot of suicidality calls when it comes to crisis calls. A lot of them will either be transferred to or sort of rerouted to our 590 team, which is our mobile crisis response team. They are, what I colloquially like to say, cars everywhere because they are dispatched into the community. They can be dispatched to a street block if you know someone in need. You may see someone call and they say, “Hey, my neighbor’s acting a little strange. Can I get someone out here?” Because maybe they’re walking in the street or maybe they’re doing something that just doesn’t seem quite right. But maybe it’s not a 9 1 1 call. Maybe it’s a mental health crisis or something of the like they will call our nine eight eight sometimes and 9 8 8 will route it to 590 or they can call 590 directly. Either way, we will assess the situation, dispatch a team, and so it’s less invasive than if you were to call 9 1 1 because they have a counselor and they have someone with lived experience that always responds to our 590 calls. So in essence, what does my role do it is managing the crisis programs at C4.

C4: So how did you get involved in this work?

Klaudia Carepnter: Yeah, so I originally started in mental health on the north side of Chicago and I was working more for employment services at that time. At that time I moved to working in the community in general, but I moved away from employment services and more geared towards DCFS and DCS in Indiana. Both of those agencies tend to contract out a lot of their mental health services. So I was doing a lot of that work. And then I stretched everywhere from the north side of Chicago to Indiana. I think the furthest out from where we currently are is probably Portage Indiana. So I was managing family, children, adolescents in the community for a very long time. I left that type of work and right before coming here I actually worked at a residential treatment center that specialized in co-occurring disorders. So you would see substances, you would see eating disorders as well as mood disorders. At that facility I managed two adolescent units as well an adult substance unit. So it was kind of a mixture of a lot of things. I have had a very eclectic view on how mental health works because I’ve done outpatient settings, I’ve done community settings and then also residential settings. In those settings, the one thing that was common was people in crisis is how do you manage crisis and can you manage crisis in a way that helps people before they get to a place where they’re in a residential setting. Or, if they’re in a more restrictive setting, can we keep them safe in the community? And so that’s kind of how I ended up here. I actually knew a coworker from a previous employment who worked at C4 and would always talk about how great it was. And so I was like, what is C4? And I often will say Community counseling centers of Chicago, also known as C4 because there was a period of time where I found community counseling centers of Chicago and did not realize it was the same as C4. So I often try to make sure I say them together because someone may know one and not the other. And so as I was kind of just looking to expand into something that managed more crisis and changed sort of going back into the community, I realized out of all of the areas that I worked in, c community mental health was my passion. So I wanted to head more into crisis and I wanted to head more into community mental health again. And then C4 gave me the perfect opportunity.

C4: So how long have you been with C4 and what do you enjoy about the job so far?

Klaudia Carpenter: So I’m actually a couple weeks past my 90 days, so a little over three months. What do I like about it so far is that honestly every week’s not the same. Every week provides new challenges, it provides new opportunities. The ways in which I am now able to advocate and provide support for people that are in crisis or programs that are trying to help people that are in crisis helps so much. Last week, I went to the 9 88 grantee national conference and I was able to meet people on the Federal level and the State level and just work with even meet people who worked at call centers in maybe Texas or Louisiana. I had a whole conversation with a young man who worked at a call center in Louisiana and how that work impacts him. And if there was something like being able to work collaboratively and advocate on levels that I wasn’t able to advocate on before is one of the things that I absolutely love about my role here.

C4: What would you say is the most challenging part of the job?

Klaudia Carpenter: Being an introvert, I would say it’s the same thing: advocating. But I will say one of the things that I do think is probably the most challenging is trying to educate people on what crisis is. In our world, in our society, we see crisis as once the issue has blown up versus when it starts. The example that I use very often is that you have a sixth grader who comes home after three weeks of being bullied and is like, “I can’t go back to school anymore. I’m struggling with having panic attacks every time it’s time to go to school.” But that’s not when the crisis started. The crisis started the first time they were bullied at school and not being able to pinpoint those, this is where it started, this is how we can help before we get to a place where we are now in dire need. I’ve heard this said a lot in all of my years of mental health, and I cannot say that it does. It probably is the best way. If you are talking to someone and there is a disproportionate response to what you are saying to them, you are probably speaking to a trauma response or a crisis response, you are probably not speaking to that person. And that is one of the key indicators is if you are talking to someone and their response is disproportionate to what you are saying,

C4: Can you explain what you mean by “disproportionate response” and maybe provide an example?

Klaudia Carpenter: If I am talking to someone and I say, “Hey, we’re just going to go down the street, I just need to take public transportation. We’re going to hop on this bus right here.” And the person’s response is they start hyperventilating or they have a panic attack or they are like,” I’m not taking transportation.” They say they will walk  and they’re just adamant about it, but the walk seems like an extremely long walk and it would be much easier to take public transportation. You’re probably dealing with someone who has some type of trauma or they have something, whether it’s a phobia, public transportation, that would be a disproportionate response.

C4: That’s a great example. So if we are noticing this, what can we do about it?

Klaudia Carpenter: Well, one of the things you can do is you could take a Mental Health First Aid Training. You can also call our crisis lines.. You can call our intake line if that is something that they actually want to receive services. If it is something where, and we have this a lot with our crisis lines, we’ll have a family member call and say, “Hey, I have an adult son and this is what I’m seeing. These are the behaviors they’re exhibiting. I don’t know how to manage this.” We can either come out and help you and talk to you in person. And like I said, for a lot of our crisis programs, we have a peer and clinician model where the person responding has lived experience as well as a clinician that is able to respond with that person.So it feels less invasive, it feels less intrusive. When you’re talking to someone, sometimes as a clinician, sometimes we’re too clinical for people and it’s just sometimes the downside of our field. But to pair that with someone who has lived experience kind of helps bridge that gap.. We also have, if you are not trying to come to C4 or you’re in a different area or none of our locations work, we also have partner partnerships with other agencies that we can link you to whatever services you need. And our goal is to keep you in the least restrictive environment but maintain stability.

C4: You speak with a lot of passion, did you always know you’d be doing this type of work?

Klaudia Carpenter: When I started in college, I joked because I was one of those people who I love education. So I think I had seven majors before I finished college and they spanned everywhere from public relations to graphic design to psychology to chemistry. At one point I was all over the board and psychology in my undergrad was the subject matter that I gravitated to and I understood it and it was something that just made sense to me. And then I actually left school with my undergrad and went into marketing and was like, this is not for me. This is not for me at all. I went back to grad school and I got my master’s in counseling. And then as I was in the field in learning kind of how this field works and how there’s so many people that need help. And then I had my own personal experiences when I was in high school with a school counselor that didn’t feel the greatest. And I was like in somewhere in grad school while being in the field, I said, I want to be one of the people that can make a good change if there are people out there that aren’t. And so that’s kind of how I ended up in this field.

C4: You mentioned earlier about being an introvert but you also are speaking at an upcoming conference and have spoken at several. Tell me more about that.

Klaudia Carpenter: So if you’ve been in mental health for any amount of time, you know that one of the key things to maintaining, I will say success in this field is networking because, and I always tell people when they have counselors, it’s a two-way street. Not every counselor is going to be perfect for every client. And you are interviewing your counselor as much as that client. A counselor is helping you through whatever crisis you’re in or whatever reason you came into treatment. That being said, networking is important because maybe I don’t work well with children and adolescents, but I have a 13-year-old who needs to come through and they’re struggling with ODD. And I know that ODD is not one of my best. I’m not doing well with behavior management system, but I know that I have a clinician that I’ve known for a few years who does do well, or I know an agency that does really well with that population. I’m going to refer that client to that population. So networking is extremely important. Also, if you’re in this field, sometimes it’s really hard not to take the work home with you. So one of the things I’m talking about at this conference is boundaries in the workplace and protecting your peace. And I mean that on so many levels. When I first started in mental health, the way they taught us was you needed to be a blank slate. So if you had a client coming in, you didn’t want to trigger your client by anything about yourself. Now, one of the things they talk about when they talk about interviewing your client, your counselor is should you be able as a counselor to treat anyone. Yes. Are you always going to be the best fit? No. And sometimes the things about you as a counselor will be the better fit for that person. So you don’t necessarily need to walk in as a blank slate. So I’m trying to find a way to explain all of, because it’s a big topic. So the parts of boundaries that I’ll be talking about is protecting your peace in the workplace, which means how do you have cultural inclusion while also maintaining your peace? Because we’ve been taught for centuries, not centuries, that might be an exaggeration, but for a long time that you need to be almost a blank slate and almost no cultural identity, no anything. And so how do you maintain that balance? How do you maintain the balance of even pandemics over? But some jobs are still hybrid. How do you maintain the balance of boundaries when you’re in your workspace at home? How do you maintain that boundary so that you’re protecting your peace? So when five o’clock comes and it’s time for you to clock out, you’re not working until midnight because there’s no separation between your workspace and your home life.The other part of boundaries is how do you protect the boundary of, well, I’m networking and I’m networking with these people and I have now developed a friendship with these people, but they are still professional contacts and there is a type of boundary you need to have with that. And how do you protect your peace? Because if your networking person becomes your personal friend and then something happens in your personal life, you have this person as a professional contact, how do you manage all of those moving parts? And that’s kind of what I’ll be speaking to. So a little bit of culture, a little bit of diversity, a little bit of boundaries in the workplace when it comes to networking and keeping those relationships in a place where they’re beneficial and not harmful to you. And then a way to talk about how you unplug from the work when you’re at home. Everyone needs a work-life balance. Unfortunately in mental health, we do run the risk of it can blur. And then I don’t like the phrase burnout. I like the phrase, I had a supervisor say this to me probably when I first started in the field. I don’t say burnout, I say deflate because you can reinflate a balloon. If it’s burnt, it’s done. Unless you are Phoenix, you’re not coming back from the ashes.

C4: Klaudia I really like that. I am stealing that! Well how can people check out your workshop

Klaudia Carpenter: You can register for the conference here:

C4: Last question, Anything else you’d like to say?

Klaudia Carpenter: I mean, C4 is amazing. I cannot say that enough. If there is something that you need C4, if it doesn’t have it, it has a link to it. And that is one of the things that I absolutely, it’s different working for C4 than any other agency that I’ve worked for. If I need guidance on where to direct someone C4 has that guidance. If I need an understanding of the programs that we have here, if it exists, C4 probably either has it or they’re in development of having it. Because this really is almost a one-stop shop for mental health. And that is something that I think is very important and very crucial, especially in Chicago and major cities and where we’re touching base on. So yeah, I absolutely think it’s amazing. And I think if you haven’t tried C4, you should come try C4.