March is National Social Work Month, a month designed to celebrate social work as a profession. This year, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) made the theme “Social Workers Are Essential” to highlight the profession and all that social workers do for the people they help. Social workers are trained to help individuals and families address personal and systemic barriers to better living. Social Workers can pick a number of fields to work in including aging, behavioral health, child welfare, clinical social work, ethnicity & race, health, LGBTQ, school social work, and specialty practices to name a few. To learn more about the types of social work, check out the NASW Practice Page.
In honor of the month, StayWell asked two or our social workers to tell us about what they do and why they picked social work as a career.
Nicole Osborne, LCSW
While my initial career path was in hotel management, as soon as I took my first job in the social work field I instantly knew this is what I was meant to do. Many of us choose social work because of the wonderful feeling we get when we help someone. The ability to empower and motivate someone to improve their lifestyle is such a rewarding process. It is important to me to first build a relationship with my clients in order to then teach them new skills to change challenging behaviors to develop confidence, optimism, and hope for their future.
All behavior has meaning and in creating awareness of this, we can see there is room to grow and learn. I truly care about my clients and recognize that success does not happen overnight, it is a gradual learning process. I work collaboratively with clients to improve the quality of their lives, create self-awareness and develop the ability to make interpersonal connections with them. I pride myself in being empathetic, patient, compassionate, engaging and strengths based.
I recognize that no one person is the same, therefore I make it my goal to integrate treatment approaches that are client-centered and solution-focused. I am trained in dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, anger management, family communication, motivational interviewing and reinforcement therapy for substance abuse. I am also trained in prolonged exposure, a trauma informed approach which allows clients to process trauma and painful life experiences.
The ultimate goal with our patients it to help them to decrease substance use and/or maintain abstinence and to help regain their mood stability through the use of healthy coping skills, problem-solving, and stress management. This approach along with developing social supports create the foundation for success in managing their mental health.
Taylor Spooner, LCSW
As a social worker at StayWell Health Center, I work in one of the school-based health centers providing therapy to middle school and high school students in Waterbury. Students are typically referred by their teachers, guidance counselors or by our doctors at StayWell if there are concerns that come up during their medical appointments. I meet with students weekly during the school day to assist with a range of topics from navigating difficult life transitions or learning coping skills to manage their emotions. In addition to providing therapy, I also provide case management to families who might be struggling to find community supports and resources.
Being placed within the school setting also allows easier collaboration between myself and the student’s academic team. When there are issues or concerns within the academic setting, being located within the school building decreases barriers and allows us to meet the students where they are. Given that most of us have busy work days, being in the school-based health center allows for easier communication between the multidisciplinary team. When you are a child & adolescent therapist, it is important to have collateral contracts with schools, medical providers etc. in order to have a more holistic approach to working with a child and their family. Without the important education or medial pieces, it is often difficult to truly understand all that could be impacting someone’s mental and emotional well-being.
I became a social worker because I’ve always had a passion for helping others. I knew going into college that I wanted to work in a non-profit, but was uncertain of how. After taking a few public relations classes and hating them, a friend suggested I take the “Intro to Social Work” class with her the following semester; within weeks I knew I had found my people. Having a social work degree allows you to work in a variety of settings from foster care to nursing homes. I have also worked with families going through the foster care system, group homes and in juvenile detention centers, but providing therapy to children and adolescents is by far my most favorite social work role. The world of therapy changed with the COVID-19 pandemic and while it has been difficult, connecting with the students via telehealth to provide ongoing support is what keeps me motivated. Being able to be a consistent person each week for the students in such an unpredictable time means the most to me about my role as a social worker at StayWell.
While we have only highlighted two of our talented social workers here, StayWell employs many social workers across our departments and we are so thankful for them and everything they do for our clients to make their lives better. Keep up the great work!
Marketing & Communications Manager
StayWell Health Center