Job Title: Clinical Social Worker
Type of Company: I am an independent contractor working for a private behavioral health practice. We see individuals, families, couples with a wide range of emotional issues.
Education: BA, Psychology, Brandeis University MSW, Boston University School of Social Work
Previous Experience: I worked at The New England Home for Little Wanderers for 11 years, ran a group home for emotionally disturbed adolescents for a decade after that and have been in private practice for 18 years.
Job Tasks: I do psychotherapy with children, teenagers, adults, families and couples. I work in an office in a small city.
My typical day consists of eleven therapy hour appointments. One day a week I am located in our local high school doing therapy with adolescents who could not get into my office after school hours. I help my clients solve their every day problems and identify the problems from their past that are affecting their current functioning. I use techniques that help them identify what they are thinking deep down, how these thoughts may have come to be distorted, and how to change these thoughts so they respond in a more rational, or acceptable, way to their surroundings and other people. Our thoughts influence how we feel and when we think anxious, negative thoughts it is reflected in our mood.
Most of my clients come to therapy because they want to make positive changes in their lives, but occasionally people come because someone in their life is making them do it, or they've been ordered to attend by a court. My office is in a big, old house, and is very comfortable and homey. Most of my clients enjoy coming to sessions, and feel welcomed and comfortable. The success of therapy is often determined by the degree of rapport between the therapist and the client, the correct identification of the problems, and the most useful intervention strategies. Clients learn how to manage their strong emotions and develop coping strategies to deal with the stresses of life.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is knowing that you have helped someone deal with a life problem and feel better, happier, and have a more productive life. It is especially gratifying to hear from former clients years later and to learn that they are doing well and are using the lessons learned in therapy.
The most difficult part of the job is not being able to help someone, and feeling frustrated when they continue to make the same mistakes over and over.
Job Tips: Be sure that you are a people person and like to listen to people, and understand what they are thinking and feeling. It is also important to be aware of your own emotions and to be able to solve your own problems. You need to be prepared to go to college and to graduate school, so an interest in academics, and being able to be a good reader and writer is important.
Additional Thoughts: Being a therapist can be a very emotionally draining job because you are always working with people who are in crisis and not doing well. It can also be the most gratifying job because you can make an enormous difference in someone's life.
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