Introducing UNE Social Work alumni, Kelcey Ladner MSW ’16! Kelcey currently lives in Bradenton, Florida and works as a Lead Therapist at Palm Shores Behavioral Health Center. We recently interviewed her to learn more about what she’s up to and how UNE helped shape her career!
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What is your job description?
I provide individual, family, and group therapy weekly to an average caseload of 10-12 patients who are receiving mental and behavioral health services at a residential placement facility.
How are you using what you learned at UNE in your current practice?
I use what I learned at UNE through understanding diagnoses, completing assessments, working in interprofessional teams to provide treatment, understanding medications, and providing a wide array of therapeutic modalities depending on individual needs and abilities.
What did you find most inspiring about your education at UNE?
I was inspired by how universal various modules and interventions can be across populations and settings. For example, I feel like a lot of what I practice with my patients at work (generally 6-12 year old boys), I’m also able to apply to our family therapy sessions with their families. For instance, I work to build a therapeutic attachment with my patients while also supporting them and their families to build a more secure attachment with each other; I support both my patients and their families to explore and work through some CBT techniques like the thought, behavior, emotion cycle; etc.
Is there anything you’ve been surprised by in entering the field of Social Work?
Even if you feel like you’re not providing a client with help, they’ll often surprise you by applying the techniques you taught them, even if it felt like they didn’t understand it and/or were resistant to it in the beginning. I’ve had a few patients be resistant at first but eventually warm up. One patient we recently discharged in fact, was this way. He was 9 yrs old turning 10 and was initially very resistant to therapy. He shared that discussing his emotions was triggering and he would act out whenever asked to process emotions. Within the last third of his stay with us, however, he was willfully engaging with the emotion check-in I do as part of every individual therapy session conducted. For a long time, he would refuse to engage at all in this check-in, then he slowly began to do so begrudgingly, and finally, he began to complete it and process without me even needing to prompt him first. It was a big win for me.
How has COVID-19 Impacted your work?
COVID-19 has had an immense impact on my work. I provide services to children in residential care (typically placed for around 6 months) and COVID-19 has made it impossible for these kids to see their families in-person since March unless they are being discharged. Family sessions are being held virtually, but the impact of not engaging in physical interactions with families has taken a huge toll on both our patients and their families. Pre-COVID-19 patients were sent home for a few days at a time to apply their learned techniques in their home environment but these have been canceled due to risk of exposure/transmission, resulting in patients getting discharged home before having a chance to have this “trial run.”
If you could share advice to incoming MSW students, what would it be?
Soak it all up! Find which modalities you are most comfortable with and practice with your peers and during your internship placements. The more confident you are, the more your clients will have trust in you. Also remember that the therapeutic relationship, trust, and rapport have a much greater impact on your client’s success than the modality/technique applied.
Featured image is Kelcey with her CEO in May 2020. He was presenting her with a”director’s choice award” which is similar to an employee of the month award.