A Day In The Life Of A SW

“A Day in the Life of a Clinical Social Worker”

This is a new series as a way to introduce seasoned social workers to the GSCSW membership and beyond.  Enjoy!

A Fascinating Interview with Michael Johnson, LCSW, a “Aging Life Care Manager” who grew up surrounded by social work, and is currently a brave advocate for social work and clients.

By Stephanie Cook, LCSW

Michael Johnson, LCSW

Current role
When asked about his current role, Michael shared, “I am a geriatric care manager; but I don’t only work with seniors”. Sometimes he just uses the term, ‘care manager’. The title and terminology is due to the Affordable Care Act, which integrated this term, although Michael laughed while saying that “it has made it more confusing”. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers did a recent re-branding, and now they are known as Aging Life Care Managers. Today, Michael works for Metta Johnson & Associates as an “Aging Life Care Manager”, which is the new title. Some of them are registered nurses, and some are clinical social workers. Michael also provides clinical supervision to new social workers, especially in medical settings.

Why did you choose a career in clinical social work?
When he was in undergrad, “I was studying Psychology, and I learned that with social work you could be a clinician with master’s degree, and the breadth was appealing. I knew that I could work in different areas. The social justice component drew me, too.” Michael added that his sister is a clinical social worker, too.

Why did you choose geriatric care management?
Michael explained that working with seniors was never in his sights, but he had a friend working in hospice after they graduated from grad school, and she was moving to a new office and encouraged him to join her. His parents, Metta and Clyde Johnson, opened the first AIDS hospice in Georgia in the late 1980s. Even as a kid, when he would ride in a car, someone would inevitably ask him “what do your parents do?” He would tell them directly, and learned to be forthright and direct about very serious subjects such as illness and death.

Initially, he wasn’t sure if he even wanted to go into this field. He first started hospice in 2006, two years after graduating from graduate school. He did hospice for 8 years, and started geriatric care management nearly a year ago. He found it so rewarding to hear that you are making differences in helping people in their final years. Michael got teary eyed. “It’s meaningful”. There are a couple of clients he picked up with very intense scenarios. He has sat with many dying people, holding their hand, while sitting with their family.

Why did you choose social work over other fields?
Michael appeared very passionate about social work as he discussed it, saying “Social justice is a core reason of why I went with it over other fields. It was only a little later. As a gay man in 2004, that was when Georgia voted to ban gay marriages. That’s what lit the fire for me to advocate for it. It felt important to be in a field that supported me. It was a poignant topic in our cohort. A third of class agreed with the ban.”

Michael explained that he hopes that new social workers hearing about his experience will have a name and face of someone whose values could directly impact. Today, as an advocate, he does speaking engagements. He encourages social workers to read our code of ethics and stand up for and on behalf of oppressed populations, because we are the ones who are part of social work.

What does a typical day on the job look like?
“I only know what my day will look like when it’s over”. During a common day, he’ll do visits to facilities (nursing home/assisted living/personal care home/hospital/inpatient units), or homes where his clients live. When he goes in for visits, he checks with nursing, med changes, progress around issues or symptoms we’re trying to manage (behavioral medical).

He says, “In a way it’s kind of nice, and it depends on how the pace has been recently. If it’s been fast, it’s nice to have some calm. If it’s been slow, it’s nice to have it pick up. It’s nice to have some flexibility in this role…having worked in hospice, with so many regulations. With this, I don’t have a caseload minimum, or arbitrary case management plan due dates. It’s a private company and independent contractor.”

Michael also described how he does visits with clients…he provides “validation, normalization, and reminiscent therapy”.

He says that “Normalization really helps people out the most. When seniors are adapting to needing more help, knowing that they’re not alone in their experience because a lot of times they can become very isolated. I’m in the early stages of not being able to do things I used to be able to do. Seniors have a strong sense of independence and often don’t want to let on that they need anything. I can provide a generic non-descript case example to help them not feel alone. Offering that to them (knowing they’re not alone) can really help. ”

All of Michael’s clients right now have some degree of dementia. He says that it’s “very sad and hard to see that and know that it’s not about reasoning. Reasoning is not going to get them to acceptance. And to sit with them over and over sometimes.”

What is it like working with family?
“From 10 years old we’d be at the dining room table talking about hospice, so it’s always been part of the family fabric. It makes you appreciate your family.”

What do you find most satisfying about your role?
“Some days it’s busy, some days it’s slow. I look forward to both. I finds crisis issues…even though it stresses me out…once you’re moving through it…there’s a little check mark for things being addressed, there’s a sense of accomplishment when it’s concrete and can be completed. It does play to ego a bit. I always try to keep humility. Showing vulnerability is a big component of our work. Sitting in front of someone and saying “I don’t know that answer but can help you find it”. That’s important. I like the sense of having helped someone. The clients and families who say, “I don’t know how I could do this without you”. There’s a lot of sincere gratitude from clients that is rewarding. For a lot of people, going into hospice is the first time they’ve had any experience with social workers. What I like about care management rather than hospice is that I used to have to be the one to tell a family that his family is dying. Now I am able to set the stage a little earlier with people who are aging. In hospice, it was more drastic and a quick and rapid decline in hospice. I’ve always worked with body/mind/spirit.”

One thing that was clear in sitting with Michael was that he values “being present with the person’s journey” and “at the same time not devaluing your own role in that”. There have been times where he said he would leave a family’s home and think, “Did I make a difference? I don’t think I did anything. There are times when I think, things shifted, but I didn’t really do anything. At times I can devalue my role. Sometimes I dont appreciate it. I have a critical mind that my own internal barometer in satisfaction with my work is variable.”

What do you find most challenging?
“No matter how much experience we have, having difficult conversations with families is always challenging. I would like to give families something concrete, even without acceptance, peace or hope or something to walk away with. Meeting families where they are, having that patience to sit with them as they struggle with difficult information. Educating families helps but it isn’t everything. You have to understand the psychological underpinnings. That’s why I love social work training in the medical fields. We understand medical and the psychological dynamics.”

What others may find difficult:
Keeping in mind, “I can be friendly without being your friend”, helps him to maintain boundaries. Sitting in someone’s home, he is most commonly asked, “Are you married? Do you have kids? What church do you go to?” In this line of work, because you’re going into people’s homes, it’s not helpful, nor in harmony with your role to respond to personal questions with ‘what would that mean to you?’ It doesn’t’ jive with that setting. As a care manager, I strive to be warm and to be friendly while being professional…but it can be challenging to ‘on the fly’ switch priorities based on different client needs.”

What do you think it takes to be a good clinical social worker?
“I don’t think I have all the traits all the time, but having most of the traits most of the time. I thinks some of the traits for good clinical social workers; self-awareness regarding bias/judgement, self-confidence or assuredness (especially when speaking with other professionals, i.e. inter-disciplinary teams) and being able to advocate for their own valuable knowledge, compassion/empathy, intelligence, discernment, critical thinking, composure, ongoing self-exploration and personal growth, self-care/stress-management. We are the ones who run towards the fire, you’ve got to be able to keep your cool when you’re in it. You can go to your car and fall apart later, but in the moment to keep it together. And yet under certain circumstances it’s okay to cry with a family for example.”

What is your work atmosphere like?
“It’s constantly changing. It can range from pleasant and comfortable to chaotic and disquieting. I have made it my entire professional career with just two years in an office.” Michael did HIV case management for a while. After one difficult event where he’d been at a nursing home, he was “thankful I could keep moving to different environment.”

How has being a licensed clinical social worker impacted your life?
“In my personal life, I’ve found that when you tell people you’re a social worker you get lots of responses. They assume you’re in CPS and assume you must have hard work, or they see you as some sort of oracle and start asking you lots of personal questions that are often reserved for therapy. Or they might become quiet and don’t want you to psychoanalyze them. Professionally, it opened a lot of doors, especially going from LMSW to LCSW. I’ve loved providing supervision as a clinical social worker because I loved the teaching aspect.” Michael also discussed how he has thought about teaching courses. He loves being able to provide clinical supervision. It says that it “keeps me sharp in learning and staying up to date”.

Does being a clinical social worker have any impact on your lifestyle?
“My personality meshes with clinical social work values. Being an LCSW is who I am, when you look at the values and standards, that would still be how I live my life as a person even if he weren’t a social worker. That’s his paradigm of the world. So it’s a lot to do with his identity. He’s also certified in hypnotherapy.

Do you have any advice for people interested in a career in clinical social work?
“Value the strength in our profession.” All too often, Michael hears people shrink back and say “I’m just a social worker,” especially around other professionals from other disciplines who may be recommending something against our values. He says that he wants them to advocate for themselves just as much as they do their clients. He also recommends that if people are talking in negative or derogatory language, “we should stand up for them as advocates for people”.

For people interested in working with geriatric care, death and dying, care management, what would you say to them if they’re looking to pursue a career there?
“Hospice is a good start. There’s a lot of support when you’re in that role. Working on a team means that you’re able to get education from the nurses/doctors. Every team meeting exposes you to more and more medical information. Home health is another good option to get experience. Hospital work will put you through the ringer and a good ‘pay your dues’ initial job. But it’s a lot of work and be prepared to leave after a few years. Nursing home work is also a good foundation. Doing all of those will prepare you for geriatric care management. We can consult with others but you’re pretty much a lone ranger. You’ll only get as much support as you seek out. You have to have a good foundation, know your own challenges and strengths. You’re (basically) an independent contractor.”

Michael also described how cultural competency is a key component. “GLBT seniors have a special place in my heart. I got to do an assessment a few weeks ago with a client. I know that one of the unique things about GLBT people is that you are raised in a household that does not hold that identity, though this is changing. Beyond that you don’t have that GLBT mentor or older adult, an archetype. GLBT people we find our mentors later in life. We aren’t raised like that typically. Unfortunately, the medical setting is a little bit behind the times in that regard. One of the things I noticed in starting medical settings was the racial divide. The caretakers are non-white and the people being taken care of are white. The people who took to the streets and protested for GLBT rights are now considering going back into the closet. For example, a gay couple that’s been together 50 years and are going into a an assisted living facility and may choose different rooms because of the population there. A gay man whose partner died years ago, going to a doctor’s office with depression but not being asked about their history if they’re not heterosexual.”

 

An Interview with Chris Leeds, LCSW

June 2015 – Chris Leeds is a psychotherapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Atlanta, GA.

 

 

 

Choosing the Clinical Social Work Field

When Chris was in college, she sat back and thought about her skills, and the only skill that she

could come up with was that she knew she was good at helping people. She got her first job

after college as a social worker and followed the thread after that.

Chris really got involved in experiential therapies early on, such as “psychosynthesis”, which

was popular in the 70s and 80s. She developed by studying other therapists (Gestalt, etc.),

even before she got her master’s degree.

Her Social Work Career History

Chris described her first job out of masters degree as a social worker in a nursing home. She

then worked at a small rural hospital, as the first full time social worker in Berkshire County,

Massachusetts. While there, she said that she “learned how to be a social worker”. She

described having experienced amazing training while there. It was a rehab clinic for people who

had experienced strokes and car injuries. It included case management, medical social work,

and counseling to patients as she saw fit, mostly around being in a hospital. She described also

having worked with the elderly there, particularly the case management piece around helping

them with what they needed.

Chris also discussed other life experiences that have helped her to become a better social

worker. She shared, “Part of my best training was my spiritual training. I traveled to India a lot. I

found social work provided me with the flexibility to do the other things I loved it.”

So she worked for the next few years in various capacities as a social work with the elderly.

First, she worked on a team working in the home for the elderly; then she did hospice type work

with death and dying. Later, she went to graduate school at about age 30, in 1980, when she

earned her clinical social work masters degree. She felt she received a solid training in clinical

work and the clinical background. And then after that, she only worked in clinics in

Massachusetts. Then she moved to New York City, worked for the Jewish Childcare

Association, an umbrella organization overseeing many programs and organizations. Later, she

worked in a residential treatment center for teenagers. She worked as a social worker for

several group homes, and then she worked in a family clinic in Brooklyn, and also did family

interviews for a special program in Harlem for grandparents whose children were substance

abusers, so they had adopted their grandkids.

She later worked nighttime shifts at an emergency hospital, as the sole clinician on duty for

three counties, as part of an independent crisis response team. For example, she would

respond if someone had a psychotic break or was suicidal. She quickly found that tt was the

right field for her.

Through all this, Chris felt fortunate, especially that she always had worked in multidisciplinary

settings with psychiatrists, etc, and was able to present cases and share different perspectives.

It was during this time that she first started a private practice in New York City for 5 years.

In reflecting on her experience, she described having worked with a lot of holistic healers who,

like herself, integrated spirituality. She advertised herself through them and built a great

network.

Moving to Atlanta

Chris moved to Atlanta for family reasons. She had done an internship at a psychiatric hospital,

but had never worked at one, so when she arrived in Atlanta, she got a job at Ridgeview

Institute, on the women’s unit, for a year and a half.

After that, she entered a group private practice, and then started her own. She has been here in

Atlanta for 20 years now, and has been involved in GSCSW since her move. Chris “brought

brainspotting to Atlanta”. Since then, she has also really advocated for experiential therapy. She

started the Society for the Integration of Spirituality and Psychotherapy (SISP) in Atlanta in

2004.

Special Interests

As an expert in spirituality in clinical work, Chris shared that “You can do it in an agency, not just

private practice. We can bring spirituality into our work, no matter what the context. The number

one tool that I use is bring to each session an awareness that there exists in each one of us a

core of love and an intuitive knowing of what we need to do to heal. I see myself in the role of a

guide to access their intuitive knowledge and I help them access it. I see spirituality as really

opening to our own love and our own internal goodness.”

She discussed how she is open to mentoring younger social workers, especially since “the

options are very limited now”. Chris believes that it’s important to get supervision, or work at a

place like Metropolitan or Heartwork for better clinical training. She feels fortunate that she was

part of a “golden era”. She believes that today, social workers have to really want to be clinical

social workers in order to succeed. She sees several young social workers for therapy and

understands how difficult it is to receive quality training today.

Today

Chris said that today she identifies both as a psychotherapist and a clinical social worker. Over

the many years of her career, she has studied many experiential techniques that she believes

“allows my clients to go into the source of their wounding, and helps them move through old

patterns and belief systems and help them release them”.

She’s taken it upon herself to get an enormous amount of training in psychotherapy, including

many years beyond school. She is a lifelong learner and chose very deliberately to continue

getting training throughout her career.

Chris described her work atmosphere as “very peaceful and quiet”. Her office is in Century Lake

complex on Clairmont at I85. It is a private practice, and there are about 6070 therapists in this

area. She shares a suite with other therapists and worked really hard to market herself when

she first moved to Atlanta.

Chris has presented a lot, and is willing to go anywhere if anyone asked her to talk. She also leads meditation groups, on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 6:30pm 8:00 pm for free.

Chris reflected, “To be a good therapist you have to work on yourself, and heal yourself. A lot of

clinical social workers do their own work, and heal themselves. I think that’s strength among

social workers in particular when they do their own work”.

A Typical Week

Today, Chris is not working full time anymore. She works “two-thirds” of the traditional work

week now. She likes starting later in the morning now, at about 10 or 11am. Typically, she

works until 6pm, with breaks between clients.

She does yoga, goes walking, meditation, errands. She feels really grateful for this flexibility,

and that she has been able to adjust her work schedule. “The flexibility is delicious.” She tries to

work a lot on her health now, with a lot of balance. She has been meditating for 40 years, and it

is her prime technique for self-care. She also enjoys giving lectures and experiential training

using meditation.

The Benefits and Challenges of this Work

When asked what she finds most satisfying about your role, Chris described how she loves

“seeing people’s lives transform… It’s very satisfying work. I feel very grateful to do it.” When

asked what she finds most challenging, she said, “I can’t think of anything”

Advice

When asked what she believes it takes to be a good clinical social worker, Chris said, “Heal

yourself. Develop your listening skills. Open your heart. The best thing that I can do is sit

present with people’s pain. If you can learn to quiet your mind.”

Chris shared how being a licensed clinical social worker impacted her life. She said it has “been

the ground upon which I stand. I’ve always been a social worker. It’s allowed me flexibility

growth, platform for my own personal and professional growth.”

It has also impacted her lifestyle, certainly in terms of flexibility. She described how she had

been a workaholic in the past, although she is not now. As an LCSW, she has been able to pull

in consulting work and EAP (Employee Assistance Program) work, which she does not do

anymore. She was a consultant for the Department of Justice for 15 years, back in the 1990s.

As a clinical social worker, she has had a lot of opportunities that have come her way. She sees

her willingness to grow and to learn new things as having helped open some of those doors.

She sees clinical social work as a very wide field in terms of what we are able to do.

Final Wisdom

When asked if she has any advice for people interested in a career in clinical social work, Chris

shared, “I think it’s a great profession. Heal yourself. Get trained.”

Stephanie@CounselingATL.com

 

An Interview with Sharman Colosetti, LCSW, PhD

December 31, 2014

Current Practice Settings: 1) Lee Arrendale State Prison for Women and 2) Private Practice

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Interviewed and Written by: Stephanie Cook, LCSW

Dr. Sharman Colosetti, LCSW, PhD, is an energetic, optimistic therapist who has been practicing psychotherapy for over 20 years. When she heard about the “Day in the Life of a Social Worker” series, she quickly contacted me to volunteer for the project.

Dr. Colosetti invited me to sit down with her in her peaceful Decatur office on New Year’s Eve to discuss her prolific career and passion for the field of social work. She generously shared her experience and hopes that her story will help new social workers.

What is your current role?

Dr. Colosetti currently is a Consultant for the Georgia Department of Corrections at Lee Arrendale State Prison for Women where she works as a psychotherapist and trainer. Dr. Colosetti also owns a part-time private practice located in downtown Decatur, GA, where provides psychotherapy for adults, individually and as couples. She also supervises social workers for licensure.

Have you had any other roles in the field?

Sexual Assault and Rape Crisis 

After graduating from her MSW program, Dr. Colosetti worked in Augusta, GA, as the Coordinator for a Rape Crisis Program. She wore many hats — a therapist, fundraiser and community educator.

Smiling as she remembered those years, Dr. Colosetti said, “I learned a lot. I worked all the time. I learned to write grants and had a wonderful supervisor who taught me how to write a policy and procedures manual and expand our program.”

Dr. Colosetti would frequently visit the ER to support survivors. Every interaction with another person became an opportunity for education. She recalled telling a large male investigator in an ER hallway to take a seat inside the door of the waiting room where he would be lower than the survivor he wanted to interview. That way, the survivor could feel safer. Due to her tireless effort and passion for helping these women, she appropriately earned the nickname, “The Avenging Angel”.

When she first began giving presentations in the community, Dr. Colosetti felt very nervous and recalled “gripping the podium for dear life.” Later, after two years of speaking several times a month, she confidantly answered questions about sex from a gymnasium full of middle-schoolers.

By the time she finished her work at the Rape Crisis Program, she had expanded the program from two rooms shared by three people to 5 offices and a shared conference room.

Doctorate Program

Several years later, she earned her PhD in Social Work at the University of Georgia. She decided to return to school to advance her career and increase her earning potential. When she earned her PhD, the prison gave her a “33% raise”.

Women’s Prison – Mental Health

In 1993, Dr. Colosetti did an internship at the Washington Correctional Institute for Women. Her therapy position in the prison system was created following a famous lawsuit, Cason vs. Seckinger. Male and female inmates brought a class action suit against prison employees for violating their rights. Many were sexually and physically abused. Her experience with the legal system and the Rape Crisis Program perfectly positioned her to be of service to these women in need. Her first task in the position was to contact the over 100 women in the lawsuit to offer psychotherapy services. She and a psychologist were the only mental health clinicians for the entire prison. Many women were understandably skeptical of her, as their trust had previously been violated by State employees. Some agreed to receive services, turning an internship into a career.

There were far too many women for individual therapy, so Dr. Colosetti developed the group therapy program — a group for rape survivors and one for domestic violence victims. Both groups, as well as many others, are in place today. Dr. Colosetti estimates that 90% of the women in the prison have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse, often times with multiple perpetrators. Before the lawsuit, there was no mental health service whatsoever for these women. Because of the high needs of the women, Dr. Colosetti could have worked 80 hour weeks. She quickly had to learn self- care and boundaries, as well as how to distinguish what was and was not a crisis.

Why did you choose a career in clinical social work?

Dr. Colosetti worked for seven years as a paralegal before deciding to become a social worker in the late 1980s. She left the legal field because she grew tired of being in an adversarial role meant to help keep people apart. “I felt like a wedge between people”. Her search for a new career began with career testing at Georgia State University; many of the tests recommended the “therapist” role, so she decided to pursue further education.

She attended the University of Georgia, where she earned her Master of Social Work degree at age 39. During her practicum year at the Medical College of Georgia, Department of Psychiatry, in Augusta, she participated in multi-disciplinary clinical training with excellent supervision. “We had morning meetings with psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers where we discussed individual, couples, group, and family therapy”.

Why did you choose clinical social work over other fields?

Dr. Colosetti feels that that her career in social work has fulfilled her values of social change and client self-determination. “I believe in working with people who want to have a life worth living.” Dr. Colosetti considered the other mental health fields, but noted that one of the main advantages of social work was that you could become a therapist in much less time. The social work program at the University of Georgia was 18 months long.”

What does a typical day on the job look like?

My work day starts at 6:45am. I get progress notes ready and prepare for my group. I attend a brief morning meeting for the Mental Health Department where we’re updated on emergencies and other need-to-know information. I do a two-hour group, then see two inmates for individual therapy. I do notes over lunch, then see three more inmates for therapy and two Mental Health Counselors for supervision.

What do you find most satisfying about your role?

I love watching women learn, perhaps for the first time in their life, that they can have an independent, satisfying life without an abusive partner. It’s inspiring to watch women in group open up and learn to support each other.

What do you find most challenging?

There have been two periods of Dr. Colosetti’s career in social work that have been the most challenging. The first challenge was transitioning from working full-time at the prison to starting a private practice. She did not have a referral base and had to build one.

The second challenge was in 2008 when she had an accident and was not able to work for 3 months. She had to hire a lawyer to fight both the insurance company and her disability company to pay her the benefits she deserved. On her return to work, she had to basically start from scratch in her private practice since most of her clients had found other clinicans for therapy.

Do you have any criticism of social work?

Dr. Colosetti wishes MSW/PhD programs would better educate students in depth psychotherapy.  Recognizing how fortunate she was to receive such quality clinical training while at the Medical College of Georgia, Dr. Colosetti understands that times have changed. Unfortunately, many newer social workers are trained in manualized treatment and don’t have the clinical training or personal experience through their own psychotherapy in depth work.

Dr. Colosetti also feels that PhD social workers are undervalued in the managed care market. A social worker with a PhD still gets paid at the Master’s level rate, not the PhD rate; this is one of the reasons she left managed care. “NASW needs to lobby for us to get paid more.”

What do you think it takes to be a good clinical social worker? ​

A good clinical social worker is curious and continues to learn by reading, consultation and personal psychotherapy.

What is your work atmosphere like? ​

Since I am on-site at the prison for only 10 hours a week, I hit the ground running. Most of my time is working with inmates, which I love. If one of them is unable to come for their appointment, I can audit my supervisee’s charts, take a mandatory on-line training, or work on a presentation for training. The day goes very fast.

How has being a licensed clinical social worker impacted your life?

When I coordinated the Rape Crisis Program, being a social worker negatively impacted my life because I had poor boundaries. If a volunteer wasn’t available to come into the ER to support a victim at night, I went in. Then, I turned right around and worked a full day in the office and in the community. After literally passing out a couple times in the ER after working with a victim, I was forced to take stock and learn how to set boundaries.

Does being a clinical social worker have any impact on your lifestyle? 

Being a clinical social worker is a great outlet for expressing my values of social change – helping change the world one person at a time. Now that I’ve had years of experience and learned many lessons the hard way, I take much better care of myself, leaving work at work and having many satisfying activities to balance my days.

Do you have any advice for people interested in a career in social work?

“Take advice cautiously.” Dr. Colosetti recalls giving up her full-time work at the prison to open her private practice, on the advice of a psychologist/friend. Although she loves her clinical work in private practice, she doesn’t enjoy marketing. Staying at the prison full-time would’ve been a better fit.

“Become actively involved in professional organizations”. Dr. Colosetti is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Academy of Psychotherapists (AAP), Georgia Society for Clinical Social Work, and the National Association of Social Workers. She has taken many volunteer positions in AAP on the Executive Committee, chairing national meetings and serving as the Chairperson for the Southern Region. She considers AAP to be her home.

“Continue supervision” We need to hone our curiosity skills” by continuously being in consultation with our colleagues. [For example, GSCSW offers low-cost clinical supervision to its members.] Dr. Colosetti strongly believes social workers should continue ongoing peer consultation for their entire careers; she practices what she preaches. Even today, 25 years into her clinical social work career, Dr. Colosetti regularly participates in three peer supervision groups, two are free, and one she pays for.

“Learn how to network”. Dr. Colosetti’s first supervisor encouraged her to call many of the medical/mental health professionals in her community, set up interviews, and meet with them to introduce herself and learn about their practice. This helped her to know the community and build a referral base. She took their information, and even their pictures, so that she could share the information with her clients when she made a referral.

What if someone is interested in working in a women’s prison?

Dr. Colosetti says there are currently job openings for Mental Health Counselors at the prison. “It’s a great way to start and get your feet wet.” You work with a variety of clinical presentations, including DSM Axis 1 disorders, trauma history, and complex family dynamics, among many others. There are two avenues to look for jobs: 1) the State of Georgia and 2) MHM Corrections. If you are experienced, she recommends MHM Corrections because “you get paid more”. The entry level position is “hard work with a case load of 50-100 people”. You see each client once or twice monthly, and provide group psychotherapy 1-2 hours per week. You get free trainings, supervision and work as a member of a multi-disciplinary team with psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. There is a lot of detailed documentation, so organization is key. There are currently 4 women’s prisons in Georgia, but none are located in Atlanta; currently there are prisons in Wrightsboro, Waynesboro, Pulaski, and Alto. There are also many men’s prisons in the state.

Final Wisdom

“What I’m doing now is embracing my elder status.” If anything in this article speaks to you, please give me a call at 404.518.0828