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Honoring National Social Work Month

March 31, 2022

Four Yale Child Study Center social workers share their stories around why they became social workers and what advice they would offer to those new to the field.

In addition to honoring women’s history this March with weekly profiles on four remarkable women who have paved the way for others at Yale, the Yale Child Study Center (YCSC) also highlighted Social Work Month in order to honor and acknowledge the important work being done by so many in this field at the YCSC. Along with weekly social worker profiles to share some of the many contributions of social workers in our country, YCSC social workers were also asked to share their stories around why they became social workers and what advice they would offer to those new to the field. The four submissions received are highlighted below.

Amy Myers, LCSW

In-Home Programs/Family-Based Recovery (FBR) Services

Why did you become a social worker?

I knew since forever that I wanted to be a therapist. I studied psychology as an undergraduate. I loved the foundational knowledge I gained from psychology (and in hindsight, the particular knowledge I gained from the independent study I did with a developmental psychology faculty member), but I could not quite find my groove in the field and was not sure what to do with a B.A. After 10 years of working in various human and social services roles, I realized I was not equipped to respond to the needs of my clients in a way that felt meaningful to me or effective for them. I was puzzled by their mental health needs, concerned about where they were living, worried about their access to medical care, furious about how they were treated in school/court/other institutions. I needed to go back to school for a Social Work degree. I was attracted to Social Work's intentional focus on marginalized and under-resourced beings, with its origins in child and animal welfare, and in recognizing poverty's impact. Social Work's deliberate attention to systems of oppression helped me understand mental health as more than a concern of the individual. Social Work welcomed my background in psychology; it integrates tenets from other disciplines (psychology, sociology, gender and race studies), which speaks to our complexity as humans.

What is one piece of advice you would offer new social workers?

As rote as this may sound - take care of yourself. We take in so much, remember to also let it out.

Carrie Epstein, LCSW-R

Yale Center for Traumatic Stress and Recovery

Why did you become a social worker?

The pandemic has made abundantly clear the need for social work, attention to social welfare, and renewed dedication to social justice. For more than a century, social workers have helped individuals, families, communities and our nation overcome challenges and reach toward their full potential. I went into the field of social work to have meaningful impact in the world, to work with colleagues from across disciplines and perspectives and areas of expertise who are all digging in to think about the very real difficult challenges that we face in society. Over 30 years later, I continue to feel proud of being a member of a profession whose mission is to enhance individual well-being, to help meet basic and complex needs of all people, and to value and fight for human rights.

What is one piece of advice you would offer new social workers?

Be proud of your profession. Our field has a rich and meaningful history, beginning in the late 19th century and established to ensure that immigrants and other vulnerable people gained tools and skills to escape economic and social poverty. You are following in the footsteps of incredible people like Jane Addams, a social work pioneer who was one of the first women to receive a Nobel Peace Prize 1931, who is best known for establishing settlement houses in Chicago for immigrants in the early 1900s. She inspired a generation of social reformers and peace activists. Be proud that you are a social worker and remember that you touch people’s lives and make a difference every single day.

Kimberly Gereda, LCSW

Intensive Family Preservation (IFP)

Why did you become a social worker?

I became a social worker because I saw the need for advocacy in the Latino and Autism community and wanted to serve and connect people to the best of my ability.

What is one piece of advice you would offer new social workers?

Stay true to why you became a social worker. No matter the hardship, you'll always spread and receive light and joy.

Krystal Finch, DSW, LCSW

In-Home Programs

Why did you become a social worker?

During senior year in college, I had plans to follow my dreams of becoming a police officer. I realized quickly that the revolving door to the criminal justice system presented itself as a barrier to my vision of change within the community. I wanted an opportunity to assist children and families to push beyond adversities, improve quality of life, and to look within for hope, change, and a better tomorrow. I focus on enhancing clinical engagement with a focus on the integration of competence, respect, empathy, and compassion in mental health treatment. As I navigated through the field of social work, I began to include and align my efforts on addressing the systemic inequalities, strategies, and approaches with the families served to better improve clinical care outcomes. For the past five years, I have taught in the areas of social work and early childhood education. As a leader, I model an approach that focuses on representation, commitment to diversity, and building upon the strengths of the individual, and community needs. As an educator, I strive to teach students to push beyond adversities while developing skills to address societal, community, and systemic barriers. As a practitioner, I seek to expand my knowledge of social work practice by using engagement techniques and reflective approaches in care which facilitates motivation for change.

What is one piece of advice you would offer new social workers?

Use every opportunity to reflect on the clinical process and remember; transparency begins with a true authentic self.

social worker |sow-shl- wuh-kuh| noun: a kind, supportive individual who cares deeply for the well being of others. A true modern-day superhero always going beyond the call of duty to care for others.

Submitted by Crista Marchesseault on March 30, 2022