Getting ready to start kindergarten was a big step for me. Well, before the first day of school, Dad and I practiced the three-block route while paying attention to the landmarks. The neighborhood parents collaborated on times and routes, so we would know how to get to school. I could hardly wait! I was confident and ready to go!

That wasn’t enough for Dad. He sat me down and said in a serious tone, “There’s one more thing. Sometimes things happen, and you might get lost. You have to know what to do, if that happens.” Denial of all kinds raced through my mind and past my lips, “That won’t happen. I know what to do. I stay with the group. I know the way. I know what to look for.” Fear hid behind the confident words.

Dad said, “Let’s pretend it does happen.” This is what I want you to do:

  • Notice that you’re lost as soon as you can
  • Ask a trustworthy adult for help
  • Tell the adult
  • your name,
  • your dad and mom’s name,
  • our address and phone number, and
  • ask the adult to call us.
  • Stay where you are and where we will see you when we come for you.

We will come.

A week after school started, I couldn’t find my walking group. But I was confident that I knew the way and started walking. I turned a corner and realized four houses later that I was lost. The mailman rescued me. He asked all the questions Dad said he would ask. He said, “Stay right here and we’ll get your folks.” The lady who was waiting for her mail called my house. Mom answered and sent Grandma to get me. I can still see Grandma driving up in her car!

Walking through life is a lot like my walk to kindergarten. We know where we’re going, who we’re going with and how we’re supposed to get there. But sometimes things happen: a relationship disintegrates, a job ends, a family member dies, and we can’t find the way back.

Then we

  • Notice that we’re lost / we aren’t ourselves;
  • Ask someone trustworthy for help;
  • Remember our identity – who we are;
  • Remember who we belong to – our values, sources of support;
  • Call the people who love us for help; and
  • Stay where we are until they get there.

They will come.



As a licensed clinical social worker, therapist, speaker, adjunct professor in the School of Social Work at Aurora University and president of Safe Harbor Counseling in Sugar Grove, Illinois, Beth Plachetka, EdD, LCSW, MSW, MAEL brings 40 years of experience helping individuals, families and groups address and resolve psychological, social and interpersonal issues.

Dr. Beth’s expertise in assessing and strengthening relationships is applied in private practice counseling, school social work, teaching, and speaking engagements. As a therapist, Dr. Beth works closely with her clients to help them evaluate their progress and re-chart their course, so they can learn strategies, build confidence and identify support systems to gain the strength and confidence required for lasting change. Contact Dr. Beth for counseling.


For organizations to succeed and thrive, strong workplace relationships must be respectful, collaborative and in line with the mission and goals. If professional relationships are poor, it leaves a negative impact on the organization and customers suffer.

Beth’s knowledge of the importance of relationships at work is supported by her dissertation that focuses on adult bullying in the school setting and by earning her doctorate in curriculum and instruction. Her deep practical knowledge to identify and realign workplace relationships in educational systems and faith institutions provides her with the expertise required to improve team productivity and professional relationships.

Presenting on a variety of topics related to bullying and mental health, Beth uses humor as well as effective and practical strategies to improve workplace culture, counteract the devastation of bullying and mitigate the symptoms that result from workplace bullying. Beth’s presentations reflect her years of experience as a teacher with clearly stated objectives, outcomes, activities and interactions that both inspire and educate.  Contact Dr. Beth to speak at your next event.

With licenses and certificates in elementary education, school social work, clinical social work and educational leadership, her family fondly (at least she hopes it’s fondly) refers to her as “certifiable.”