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?
Lucia Leo-Diaz, BCD, VHA clinical social worker, Lt. Texas Guard, Mission, Texas:
I was working in a management position at our community mental health facility and our Executive Director announced that all managers would now be required to have a Master’s degree. While returning to school was one of my goals, the timing was fast forwarded! It was very challenging to continue working full time while raising our kids, keeping a home, and traveling 400 miles once a week to San Antonio for a year and a half. Of course, it was well worth the sacrifice!
Martin Waters, V. P., Beacon Health Options Inc.; Boulder, Colorado:
It wasn’t complicated. I wanted to help people.
I think it was part of my inherent social DNA and some challenging life events that nudged me along. But the ongoing urge was there ever since I could remember. I knew that I wanted to make a dent in the way we treat one another. As I got older and more familiar with the world, I wanted to help redress what I perceived as sizable social inequities. Distributive justice was on my mind.
The urge became even more compelling right after high school. One influencer was the family train wreck that took place my senior year. My parents went through an acrimonious divorce process. The hyper-emotional proceedings had a significant impact on the mental well-being of my siblings and myself. I knew that I wanted to understand what had hit us.
My subsequent education and training in family systems, my practice experiences dealing with the unique challenges associated with mental health conditions, and my personal therapy brought healing and liberation over time. Paulo Freire, author of the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, had it right—obtaining knowledge and self-awareness within one’s circumstances provides a springboard for empowerment.
Tell us why you chose to go to graduate school and become a clinical social worker! Comment below or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org