Major: Psychology Minor: Art
Year of Graduation: 2017
Graduate School/Location: University of St. Thomas/St. Kate’s School of Social Work, St. Paul, MN, 2017-2019
Current Position/Location: Mental Health Practitioner II at Fraser Minneapolis
Please give a brief description of your current position.
As a Mental Health Practitioner II, I provide trauma-informed day treatment services to preschoolers. At Fraser, day treatment is 3 hours, 5 days a week. I provide therapeutic and relational interventions to help preschoolers struggling with attachment issues, emotion regulation, and behavioral/social coping skills. I also carry a case load of 11 outpatient clients that I see for individual and/or family psychotherapy. My individual clients are aged 3 to 17, with challenges such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, grief, and trauma.
I help supervise four bachelors-level clinical assistants who work in the day treatment rooms and engage in regular case consultations with other therapists at Fraser.
What path did you follow to get to your current position?
During my junior year at the College of St. Benedict, I completed a summer internship at the Washburn Center for Children, where I interned in their preschool day treatment program. In my junior and senior year, I conducted research that examined attachment theory and young adults. These experiences sparked my interest in working therapeutically with children and families. Applying to the MSW program at St. Thomas/St. Kate’s was good fit because it emphasized clinical social work.
During my MSW program, I interned at Daily Work and at the Hamm Clinic. At Daily Work, I was a Case Manager and helped job seekers from diverse backgrounds connect to community resources and strengthen their employment skills. I also interned at the Hamm Clinic and provided individual psychotherapy to adults using a relational and cognitive-behavioral lens.
At the end of my MSW program, I took the licensure exam and became licensed as a Licensed Graduate Social Worker. This allowed me to apply for positions that provide psychotherapy under the supervision of an independently licensed social worker. I applied and interviewed at Fraser Minneapolis and joined their Mental Health team in July 2019!
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
The great part about having a master’s degree in Social Work, is that the degree is very flexible and can allow you to work in many settings such as schools, healthcare, mental health, policy, and government. I compared the different MSW programs by having informational interviews with current MSW students at the University of St. Thomas/St. Kate’s, Augsburg, and the U of MN. I also toured and participated in the information sessions for prospective students. I read the faculty bios and course catalogs to get a feel for the interests of the professors and concentrations offered in each of the programs.
My career path also stems from the relationships made throughout my educational and work experiences. I talked with staff who knew of the clinics I was applying to. Some of these mentors personally knew the clinicians at such work settings, and it increased my opportunities for interviews and offers based on these connections.
What skills are important in your field?
Empathy, rapport building, self-reflection, a willingness to be vulnerable, dependability, advocacy, and communication skills.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position?
Seeing children and families from some of the most vulnerable living situations feel a sense of hope, self-efficacy, or recognition that they deserve to have positive, safe living environments and nurturing, adaptive relationships with one another. Many of the families I work with have been disadvantaged by the systems in society, so it feels rewarding when I can build a trusting relationship with the families and help them recognize their strengths.
Navigating ethical dilemmas can be challenging. As a social worker, I am led by a national code of ethics, but in real-life situations it is not always clear what the “best” response is. Consulting with other clinicians allows you to get diverse input and see the various implications of an action better. It is not easy to accept uncertainty, but it is necessary in a career where peoples’ lives are fluid and things can change constantly.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
Working as a Career Assistant at CSB/SJU strengthened my job search, exploration, and application skills. I used the CANE database many times to connect with alumni in the mental health field. My internships, interviews, and job shadowing also helped me identify what I was and was not looking for related to career options. I also drew from the transferable skills from my prior jobs such as being a camp counselor, art teacher, and adoption volunteer.