March is National Social Work Month, and this year, the National Association of Social Workers has chosen the theme of Social Workers are Essential. What do you think of when you hear the term “social worker?” It is a phrase we all have heard and yet there are some misconceptions about what a Social Worker is and does.
A Social Worker is a Master’s level clinician who specializes in helping people. Many social workers work for the county, providing services to youth and families who need support and mental health care. Some work in hospitals, correctional facilities and schools. Many social workers provide therapy services and work in private practice or treatment settings. Some provide leadership in organizations through Programs, Clinical, Operations or as Directors.
Social workers can work during their graduate degree program as Trainees, pre-licensed as Associates, or become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Some may even go on to provide supervision to Trainees and Associates.
For National Social Work Month, we took the opportunity to interview our own staff member, Alicia Dominguez, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Alicia specializes in working with individuals in repairing their relationships with others or themselves.
Alejandra: What led you to the field of social work? Tell us about your journey of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Alicia: I was always interested in psychology and studying people’s behaviors and emotions. I thought I wanted to become a psychologist. During my undergrad program, I heard two speakers who graduated from USC’s School of Social Work and they were doing work that I wanted to do! That’s when I decided to pursue social work and I ended up going to USC like those speakers.
Alejandra: What type of work does a Licensed Clinical Social Worker do? What makes the field of social work so essential in your experience?
Alicia: The great thing about social work is that it is so versatile. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker does not just “take away kids” (I used to believe that!). LCSWs can provide services in community clinics, private practice, group practice, schools, County agencies, etc. Our services range from case management to mental health therapy. We can also do macro-level work, such as program development, and public policy and advocacy. In my journey to become a social worker, I was trained to see an issue on an individual level as well as on a community and societal level.
Alejandra: What types of populations benefit from working with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker? What populations do you personally like to work with the most?
Alicia: Any person or agency would benefit greatly from working with a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and having a LCSW on their team. I have worked with so many populations, all age groups, in a variety of settings. I tend to have a “systems” mindset, so I am really drawn to problems that are impacting an individual’s personal relationships and other areas of their life, such as work, school, social, physical health, etc.
Alejandra: What do you wish the world knew more about the field of social work? What myths about social workers have you encountered that you wish people would become more informed on?
Alicia: I definitely want people to know that social workers don’t just take kids away from their parents. In fact, many social workers support family reunification. We provide emotional support, resources, and advocate for our clients. Social workers also follow a strict Code of Ethics to ensure they are providing the best care possible for their clients.
Alejandra: What guidance would you give to a person who is starting on their journey to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker? Is this feedback that was given to you when you were starting on your journey, or is this something that you wish you knew when you were starting your journey?
Alicia: I would encourage a new social worker to be open to any opportunities. I was encouraged to do the same, but I didn’t really understand it until I was working in the field. I ended up working in settings and with populations that I never thought I would, and ended up enjoying it! We may start our journey with one passion, but find new ones along the way.
TheraCare Wellness would like to extend a big thank you to Alicia and all Social Workers this National Social Work Month, and all year long. Social Workers are a necessary part of the mental health field and have impacted the lives of many individuals and families in a positive way. If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of others, the field of social work may be for you.
To learn more about Alicia and her services with Theracare Wellness, check out her bio: https://theracarewellness.com/team/alicia-dominguez-lcsw/
– Alejandra Rose, LMFT