Career Story: Addiction Therapist And Social Worker

Addiction Therapist And Social Worker

Job Title: Clinical Social Worker

Type of Company: I am self-employed and have a busy medical practice. I counsel clients with mood disorders or addictions or both.

Education: LPN, Tewksbury Hospital School of Practical Nursing •• BS, Psychology, Nova Southeastern University •• MSW, Florida International University

Previous Experience: I was a staff nurse at at a medium-sized suburban hospital, and later, as a detox nurse, became interested in addiction counseling and went back to school for the next sixteen years.

Job Tasks: I go to work at noon four days a week, and see a client every hour, on a typical day. I do diagnostic assessments/DWI assessments or continue treating the client from where we left off the week before. I do treatment goals and plans with the client, crisis stabilization, therapy, and discharge planning. Once in awhile I facilitate hospitalization; this is needed if the client is suicidal or homicidal or hallucinating. If the patient is a danger to himself or others, the hospital is the best place to send him. When patients are discharged, I see them back in my office to determine how to prevent a relapse and treat any future crisis. As I build a therapeutic relationship with a client, I may advocate for them with agencies to improve service delivery, to meet the client's needs and reduce stress. My goal is always to return them to full functioning.

The most important aspect of my job, is not to judge anyone. It is an honor when a client comes for help. The reward when I see them improve coping skills, de-stress, and make changes they want to make is awesome. The reward when none of those things happen is also there; everyone has a right to refuse treatment, to stay where they are if they are not a danger to themselves or others. Referral to another therapist may be indicated; if so, I make it. And I still do not judge.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is helping others meet their potential, decrease stress and improve their quality of life. I am looked up to in the community for my work.

The worst part is dealing with pre-certifications, authorizations, and re-imbursement for insurances. When clients lose jobs, the insurance frequently goes too. It makes for a horrible dilemma for a person who is already suffering the effects of mental disorders.

Job Tips: Major in social work as an undergraduate so graduate school will only take one additional year. Be prepared to learn a lot about yourself and human behavior across the life span. A non-profit public agency is a must for beginning social workers to see how systems work. From there you will be able to do whatever you chose--mental health counseling or administration.

Additional Thoughts: The best people make the best therapists. Develop yourself into the person you would like to be and go help others do the same.

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