We at ACSWA offer a few of our board members’ reminiscences about what led them to go to graduate school to become a clinical social worker. We invite you to share your own memories on the same subject—we will be continuing this theme through April, which we hereby designate as Clinical Social Work Month! As a BCD practitioner, you are a member of online ACSWA , the national community of clinical social workers—please feel free to check in on your ACSWA connection, including daily Clinical Twitter (tweets on behavioral health topics), blog, e-books, e-newsletter, specialty certifications at ABE, position statements and testimony, and many features that will be coming soon.
ACSWA: How did you decide to go to graduate school and become a clinical social worker?
Lloyd Jackson, BCD, director of Vet Center in VHA, Lt. Col. US Army Reserve:
Grad-school was definitely my Mt. Everest as it were; I wanted to do more than my BSW would afford me. To engage clients at a deeper level, I would need skills I did not yet possess. My mentor Jim D. (my Yoda!) had 25 years’ experience and was the most amazing clinical social worker I have ever had the pleasure of learning from and working with. Prior to grad school, I learned from Jim that I had to focus on the “Why Factor” in order to sustain my goal and ensure future success. The “Why Factor” is an introspective look into why I wanted to counsel with others and lead soldiers with a servant mind-set. Jim argued impressively to me that without exposure to the deep knowledge of graduate-school experience, I would inevitably be limited in my abilities to aid others and would have to rely on others who had the needed expertise and advanced skills.
Addressing the “Why Factor”, I set within me an internal locus of control that fueled me toward my eventual life-goal of serving others at a clinical and systems level. I was introduced to the principle of “Deliberate Practice” and applied it as I set forth to gain my master’s degree at (Kent School, University of Louisville) and eventually gain a direct commission into the US Army Medical Service Corps. The motivation for earning the MSSW was clearly seeded in knowing that I must have it in order to realize my vision of helping others manage behavioral-health challenges. It cannot be emphasized enough that without key people, moments, vision, and hustle, I would have not have obtained my MSSW or realized the 2nd and 3rd-order effects of that decision. Those effects, made possible by my MSSW, were not predictable and yielded much more than I could have anticipated or hoped for.