Social Work

So why Social Work? Here is my story as to how I chose social work & my future plans.

I started college as a biology major & then switched four more times (pathology, microbiology, psychology, & finally HDFS {human development & family studies}). The psychology classes had me very intrigued & my favorite movies always included psychological thrillers. I also loved learning about dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities) & that lead me to psychology as well. I had met my husband in 2007 during my freshmen year of college. If I were to stick with psychology, I would have had to commute or move to main campus (Penn State). Because of my husband, I switched to HDFS so I could remain at the York campus & be near him (he was only my boyfriend at the time).
After graduation, I became a TSS for 6 weeks because I decided I hated that job. I took a job as a paraprofessional & switched to a behavioral support staff at a school known as New Story. New Story accepts highly aggressive students on the Autism Spectrum to modify behaviors while teaching them academics. They are the “last stop” before placement into a psychiatric facility. I began working for Typical Life Corporation almost 2 years after I started at New Story. I planned to work with adults so Typical Life Corporation was more my pace compared to New Story where I worked with children & teenagers. I worked as an Assistant Program Manager (or direct care worker) for 2.5 years at TLC. I applied at a brand new company known as Life’s New Beginning in December 2015. I do the same exact thing just for a new company. I work with individuals who have intellectual disability & have dual diagnoses such as autism, bi-polar disorder, depression, ODD, PDD, schizophrenia, etc.

I obviously have the skills & experience with mental health. However, my original plan was to graduate, become a drug & alcohol counselor, work my way through grad school, and graduate with a Masters in Psychology. Why the switch? I graduated and found out PA changed their requirements for D&A counseling (licensure) so I couldn’t do that. I had a hard time finding a job with a HDFS degree even though it is very similar to social work.
After much research & asking around, I was told a MSW would get me licensed faster than psychology.
I considered a Masters degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis when I worked at New Story since I dealt with maladaptive behaviors. I realized this would restrict me to just behavior therapy & other behavior based jobs. I didn’t want that restriction! I went back & forth between SW & ABA for a good year. I spoke to a LCSW from TLC when I started working there. She convinced me SW is the way to go & I can always go back for a certification for BCBA (board certified behavior analyst).
I worked for 2.5 years before going back to grad school. I learned a lot through my work experience & I don’t regret waiting. I attend Temple University Harrisburg for my MSW. I have learned that I can take the licensing exam my last semester (spring 2017) & graduate as a LSW. I wanted to know the difference between SW & Psychology though. I’ve learned that majority of individuals with a masters in psychology cannot get licensed easily & always end up having to pursue their doctorate degree in order to get anywhere. As a social worker, I can become licensed during my last semester or right after graduation without a bunch of supervision. I eventually will pursue my LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) by paying someone to give me one hour of supervision a week for 2-6 years before sitting for that exam. However, this isn’t necessary to do the same jobs that psychologists do.
The other difference is how psychology is based on the medical and physical aspects of the brain/mind. Social work takes into consideration every aspect of the human life (macro & micro {environment, family, work, public health, physical illness, mental health, upbringing, etc.}).

My future goal has always been to open my own practice. I still plan to do this, but I have lost sight into what I will specialize in. I had planned on becoming a marriage counselor, but after 4 years of mental health experience & multiple divorces amongst family & friends, I decided mental health was more my speed (which was my initial concentration anyway). I am now considering working with veterans &/or rape victims. I have a few personal reasons for why I am losing interest in mental illness (& won’t mention them online). I will still be able to work with mental illness with veterans & rape victims, but it won’t be the main focus of my career. We shall see. I do not know what I’ll be doing because there are literally many many options for Social Workers these days.

My ultimate long term goal is still to open my own practice. I plan to work a full time and part time job once I graduate & hope to find my niche doing so. Once I find my niche, I will build up clientele & open my business.

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