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DSW Degree, Social Worker Therapist, Psychiatry and Public Health

Since earing my MSW in 2016, I have been busy gaining experience in my field and at the same time researching and reflecting on how to best go about advancing my social work practice further, earning the terminal degree in my field, the DSW. Fully dedicated to lifelong education and career advancement, I hope very much to develop my clinical, analytical and critical thinking skills further as a DSW student at the University of XXXX. I have served in several different social work positions in Texas as well as New York and now hold my LMSW license in both states. I have been serving in my current position for more than a year, as a Social Worker Therapist with the Department of Psychiatry at The University of XXXX.

With experience working in a variety of professional settings, before, during, and after my studies towards the MSW, I have developed increasing adaptability, flexibility, and sensitivity to others. A quick learner, I have become adept at crisis intervention and especially knowledgeable in this area, helping clients to work through suicidal and homicidal ideation. Learning to think on my feet, I have also become adept at problem solving and rapid intervention at the micro/clinical, mezzo and macro levels; meeting the needs of my clients with engagement and fidelity. A critical, solutions-focused thinker, I am especially fond of psychodynamic theories and approaches as well as evidence-based treatments such as ACT, CBT, etc. Working with marginalized adults of all ages, the common factors are low-income and more often than not homelessness accompanied by a mental health/psychiatric diagnosis. Most typically, the male clients that I work with are diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, substance use disorder, and/or addiction issues. Many of my clients are HIV positive and many are also members of the LGBTQ community. A handful of my clients have been Asian or Asian-American.

I seek a full immersion experience at UXXXX in the integration of theory, practice and research skills, reflective analytic and clinical skills, and the articulation of one’s theoretical and reflective knowledge in a way that reflects one’s grasp of the importance of research in social work practice and the development of research for the advancement of the profession. The federally-funded project I am working on is UTHealth’s Homeless Outpatient Mental Health Expansion Services Program (UTHealth HOMES). The program aims to deliver evidence-based psychotherapy and mental health treatment to adults experiencing homelessness with a diagnosis of a serious mental illness and/or a co-occurring disorder. I am a lead clinician in the field providing psychotherapy, treatment planning, diagnosis, administering clinical assessments and performing psychometric screenings. I also provide field instruction and supervise MSW student interns in addition to assisting with data collection, data analysis procedures, and program evaluation. Through discussions with community partners, regional stakeholders, and UTHealth’s professors of Psychiatry and Public Health, I have gained a deeper insight into the complexities involved in our affordable housing crisis and have become passionate about brainstorming for innovative ways to tackle the growing homelessness epidemic. It has been a special honor to co-author our program's Patient Psychoeducation Workbook and recently submit abstracts of our work as a co-author to the American Psychiatry Association and the American Public Health Association.

Advancing the social work profession, especially through the practice of psychotherapy, I will be able to contribute to a dismantling of the stigma that exists concerning mental health, particularly in Asian and other minority communities, building awareness as a foundation of social change. I look forward to continuing to study the criminalization of race, gender and sexuality; implementing trauma-informed and culturally-competent practices and mental health treatment programs for adults experiencing homeliness or those who are at risk for homelessness.

I seek to utilize the conceptual frameworks found in the literature of Neuroscience, Neurobiology, and Epigenetics to better understand trauma and help with treatment planning for Major Depressive Disorders, PTSD, etc. I look forward to exercising my leadership skills helping to build awareness of mental health issues in the community, particularly the high rates of suicide among Asians/Asian-Americans. The implementation of culturally-relevant interventions is especially close to my heart and I am passionate about designing mental health treatment for and contributing to the de-stigmatization of LGBTQ+ individuals/couples and/or persons with HIV. Among these groups, I have a special research interest in Asians and Asian-Americans, my own ethnic group. Employing systems perspectives and bio-psycho-social approaches, I will seek to describe the dynamics involved in the formation of a dyad and the influence of gender-determined roles, and develop an enhanced awareness of the use of self in the application of interventions. I intend to pay special attention to those factors that have an impact on the lives of my clients that are a result of discrimination, poverty, homophobia and/or socially-constructed barriers to the full exercise of their freedoms.

Along with Neuroscience and Epigenetics, I am well-versed in Polyvagal Theory, Mindfulness, Contemporary Psychodynamic Approaches, Couples Therapy and Sex Therapy, and Psychopharmacology. I seek to creatively access and describe ethical and legal dilemmas that arise for the social worker in the area of mental health and I see myself as an advocate as well as practitioner of culturally competent mental health treatment – particularly with respect to gender diversity and sexual identity, with the development of my own special focus on Asians/Pacific Islanders and Asian-Americans. I often find myself reading about competency training for service providers and the role and potential contribution of theories of conflict resolution in the Social Work community.

Transportation and urban planning in relationship to its effects on mental health and wellbeing concern me greatly, especially with respect to older adults with mental health issues, trauma healing for registered sex offenders and re-entry programs for new life/work/housing opportunities are also my area of most extensive engagement. Since I came back to Texas in 2018, I have become increasingly fascinated by a comparison of different areas of the USA in their regional attitudes, values, beliefs, and delivery systems of mental health services to vulnerable populations – especially the South and East Coast. This includes the stigma surrounding mental health treatment and psychotropic medication, the criminalization of gender and sexuality, racial/ethnic disparities in accessing appropriate mental health services, particularly for older adults, persons identifying as LGBTQ+ and/or in need of HIV treatment, and the need to address these disparities through advocacy and provider/agency training in the areas of culturally competent treatment and trauma-informed care.

I have faced many challenging situations as a social worker, particularly given the fact that I have developed a special interest in helping registered sex offenders to find employment and housing. During supervision of the interns, I sometimes faced special challenges conveying the precise purpose of our agency meetings and keeping them on topic. It was sometimes difficult to avoid being pulled into cultural explorations that led us far afield from our more immediate concerns at hand. I found it helpful to steer our focus to systems theory and attachment, using Gottman's model, amplifying and expanding its application.

After beginning my MSW studies at the University of Texas at Austin, my family and I suffered several setbacks occurring more or less simultaneously and left me almost incapacitated in their severity, resulting in an unacceptable grade and my being placed on academic probation from Spring 2004 through Spring 2007. It was a struggle to deal with critical family issues at first; but in time they turned into a rapid and profound period of personal growth during which I felt as though I were undergoing a metamorphosis into a highly successful professional who could not be more dedicated to her career. It was during this period that I learned my true values, formed my mature, adult identity, and built up my integrity and determination, discovering the strength that lies within me. I redeemed myself by attaining very strong grades for the Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 semesters through a lot of very hard work and the power of positive change. I became more resilient, learning to persevere still further when faced with adversity. Since that time, I have learned how to leverage this resiliency and perseverance to meet new challenges as exemplified by my work, volunteer service, and educational experiences. Recently, I have completed a non-degree, graduate-level Social Work course at Touro College, for which I earned an A, and have increased my volunteering, working up to 10 hours per week. Honoring my commitment to my education and passion for social work is my main priority. I am confident that I will successfully meet any challenges with enthusiasm and dedication.

I am proud of having graduated from NYU's MSW program with a 3.56 GPA, after having resolved some very difficult family issues that resulted in my own mental health challenges. I am proud of the way in which I ultimately dealt most effectively with an abusive relationship and pleased that I was someone who benefitted greatly from the use of psychotropic medications for depression, anxiety and panic attacks, going into periods that lasted for some time, during which I would upon occasion see my therapist twice a week instead of just once. This entire experience further solidified my understanding of and passion for the healing potential of counseling and other mental health solutions and resources. If I had been prescribed the medications earlier, I may have been able to have better handled the academic pressure during this especially turbulent period of my life.

After responding successfully to these difficulties, I excelled in my new field placement during my last semester of graduate school. I still remain in contact with and have a good relationship with that field supervisor who is also one of my references, providing me with a letter of recommendation in support of my DSW application.

I thank you for considering my application to the DSW Program at UXXX.

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