Nicky MacCallum

< Back

Nicky MacCallum
Counseling Services Director

nmaccallum@youthalive.org | (510) 594-2588 x312

Nicky MacCallum is director of Youth ALIVE!’s innovative counseling services program, she’s an adviser to young counselors, and a therapist on the front lines of violence and trauma.

Nicky has years of formal training and education, and is an internationally-recognized expert in trauma and trauma care. But you get the feeling she herself isn’t much impressed with all that, that she would rather the world listen to her clients talk about their experiences with trauma and healing.

Still, the credentials are pretty impressive: Nicky is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a nationally certified counselor, and a CAMFT-certified clinical supervisor. She conducts trainings on trauma-informed practices and vicarious trauma both locally and nationally. She was a Collaborative Investigator for the DSM-5 field trials, contributing on Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders as well as Depressive Disorders

Nicky is a native of the gritty yet beautiful (sounds a little like Oakland) seaside city of Swansea, Wales, but has lived in the East Bay for over 30 years. She has personal experience of profound trauma and the challenge of a long recovery. Before Youth ALIVE!, when she wasn’t singing in a band (one was called Legs 11) or raising her children, Nicky spent years at Seneca Family Services, as counselor, clinical director, and consultant. She co-founded their groundbreaking therapeutic preschool program.

Nicky came to Youth ALIVE! in 2012. YA! had found that our clients weren’t comfortable with outside counseling providers, who often failed to understand their experiences and culture. So Nicky began right away to build our counseling program from the ground up, to shape our culturally-sensitive, holistic approach to trauma care. But she didn’t do it on her own. She worked closely with YA! leadership, and she went out into the field relentlessly, alongside our Caught in the Crossfire violence intervention specialists, who serve victims of violence on the streets, in homes and hospitals. She listened to victims talk about their needs and fears, about their personal visions of a safe, healthy future. And she kept going out to the streets.

That has perhaps been Youth ALIVE!’s biggest innovation: to take counseling services to the field, to wherever our clients feel safe, comfortable, and able to open up. All clients from our intervention, prevention and healing programs are eligible for counseling. Nicky and all our counselors are out in the trenches every day.

She says Youth ALIVE! immediately felt like home to her. “Youth ALIVE! speaks to me because we see the clients as the expert on their own experience,” says Nicky. “We value their wisdom and understand that they need to be the one who decides what healing looks like for them.” She knows education and training are important. But this is the kind of expert Nicky honors: the person she is treating, the community of those affected by violence.

Nicky also works to raise awareness among YA! staff about their own well-being. Our staff come from the community we serve. Their dedication is legendary. The human suffering they witness is personal to them. Nicky trains all staff members extensively in understanding and identifying trauma in victims and in themselves. She shows clients and staff healthy ways to cope with stress and trauma.

Nicky often says that the job of YA! counselors is not to “fix” people. “Our role,” she says, “is to accompany, to walk alongside, to remember their hopes and help each person walk their own path to healing.” The community has responded. More and more, the trauma-impacted people we work with are signing up for this healing service.