by Taylor Smith, LCSW, Team Leader/Therapist
Since I was child, I always knew that I wanted to help people. As a young adult, I had the opportunity to work with children in the big brother/big sister program in Harrisburg, PA. Observing the needs of children helped to direct my college focus to social work. One I was in college, my experiences broadened to include families and adults, working in both the food bank and a a domestic violence shelter for women. In 2014, I graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, officially beginning my career in the social work field. Being a social worker means that I am able to fulfill that dream. My current employment gives me access to children ages 5-12 during the day, and adults in the evening. Each position comes with different challenges; however, there is never a dull day in my field.
I thoroughly enjoy working with children and adolescents, and love having an opportunity to impact the younger generation, in hopes that it will contribute to making the world a better place. Listening to the stories the students share and realizing the adversity they face through the absences of basic needs increases my drive to give them the tools they need to overcome and succeed. Seeing kids apply what they are learning in therapy and transfer the skills to their own real-world situations is truly encouraging.
Being a social worker means that I am a change-agent, possessing the tools needed to create a better future for many people. Further, being a social worker in a school-based program means that I can support students in ways that they might not get elsewhere. In my school-based role, I am a group and one-to-one therapist, student crisis team member, and therapeutic educator for the teachers, para-professionals, and intern-level staff. Every day, I get to use my professional skills in a way that provides help to others, giving both students and staff a platform to grow.
In addition to my defined social work role, I feel confident that I am breaking down professional barriers in other ways, including being a black female in the discipline of social work, obtaining my Master's and my clinical license (LCSW), and being committed to helping others learn about mental health and erasing the stigma behind it. Each of these areas could be considered a major accomplishment on their own; however, combining the hurdles of completing advanced education, overcoming ethnic barriers, and confronting the stigma of mental health is evidence of my commitment to social work, my clients, and my dream.