Staff Spotlight – Maggie Bellino

Maggie Bellino, MA, LMSW

Child & Family Therapist

In 2013, I graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Minor in Spanish. I moved to Gracias, Lempira, Honduras to work as a first grade teacher at a bilingual school. But I quickly realized that while I loved teaching, my passion was advocacy work, connection, and healing. I began working with victims of domestic violence and was enthralled and motivated by the work. I will never forget one night, walking a woman home, that we encountered her abuser. I remember looking into his eyes and realizing that there was another person to this equation, another person who also needed someone to advocate for them, connect with them, and help them heal. I moved back to Arizona and completed my Masters in Social Work at Arizona State University.

During my studies, I realized that there is a dearth of research and understanding regarding perpetrators of abuse, specifically of sexual offenses. However, there is a common understanding that people who have been hurt often times go on to hurt others, so it seemed imperative to me to work on the hurt first, in hopes of preventing the second. Casa de los Niños is one of three organizations in Southern Arizona that provides treatment for children who sexually offend. Research tells us that less than 5% of juveniles who commit sexual offenses reoffend (Caldwell, M. F., 2016), and that percentage decreases even further when effective treatment is employed. For this reason, I was honored to be offered a position as a Child and Family Therapist, working within the specialty of Maladaptive Sexual Behaviors. There is such a need for this treatment, and our program is so well-respected that we have families drive an hour one-way to receive services for their children. What is more, Casa de los Niños financially supports our team to be members of the Association of Treatment for Sexual Abusers, so that we may be informed as to the newest research internationally that pertains to our clientele. It is for this reason that our treatment is ever increasing in effectiveness. The population I serve is not understood, and for this reason there is a general lack of empathy. I hope to amplify the voices of these children, because when I look into my client’s eyes, I see a child who needs someone to advocate for them, connect with them, and help them heal. I feel honored to be the one who has the opportunity to do just that. I would like to add that as an employee at Casa de los Niños, we are treated with as much respect, understanding, and care as the community members we seek to serve. My husband and I recently became foster parents, and everyone has shown me compassion and support as we navigate “foster parenthood.” I love working for an organization that practices what they preach in terms of helping kids and healing families.