Article Excerpt: Building a Practice While Raising a Family
by Melissa Groman, LCSW
Editor’s Note: We celebrated Mother’s Day earlier this week. The following is an excerpt from an article from the Spring 2010 issue of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER and addresses issues of special concern to social worker mothers/parents. Read the full article at:
I have five kids and I did it. It was not always easy, but whenever social workers or therapists who are moms, or who want to be moms, ask me how I built a full-time private practice with small children at home, I am quick to say that it really is possible. All you need is a little bit of faith, a spoonful of determination, and some good guidance.
Because starting and maintaining a practice means that you have to tend to all the details of owning a business, from marketing and bringing in clients to budgeting on an unpredictable paycheck, to doing the actual work of therapy, many would-be moms put their dream on hold. After all, how do you do all this while having and nursing babies, cooking dinners, driving carpools, and doing homework and bedtime? Building a practice while raising a family can seem daunting at best and impossible at worst.
Working mothers are historically torn between their desire to stay home with their babies, their wish to be home for grade-schoolers at the end of the school day, and the pull to pursue their career and the need to earn money. Having a practice of one’s own, for those who dream of it, is more than a good job, more than a career move, or the fulfillment of years of schooling. A private practice is an arena for creativity, productivity, and a real room of your own.
Social worker moms often think that going out on their own is significantly more demanding than working for someone else. Or that there is only one model to work from. They reason that they are best off putting off the idea of a private practice until the kids are bigger, or the pregnancies are past. It doesn’t occur to many would-be therapists that there is a lot of room for new ideas about how to create their own business while raising a family—that there are lots of fun, prudent, exciting ways to proceed that can work well for both family and career. Whereas it’s true that having your own business can seem more overwhelming than working for someone else, there are many ways and reasons to succeed.
Amidst a struggling economy, the normalcy of two-income families and the pursuit of a good family life, private practice can meet moms at the intersection of personal and professional growth and satisfaction; fulfillment of our creed as social workers, advocates, and care givers; and financial prosperity. Social workers are creating inventive, interesting niches for themselves more and more through self employment, independent contracting, Web-based work, teaching, consulting, and writing, as well as the traditional “in-office” practice. The classic idea of private practice is broadening to include elder care and other kinds of on-site consulting; home visits; workshop presentations; online, video, and phone work; and more! We are thinking outside the office and loving it! For moms, alternative private practice venues can be an invigorating way to start off and work with flexibility and synchronicity, in concert with our mothering.
Today, there is no shortage of practice building coaches, “How To” books, and online advice. The wheel has been invented on how to start and build a successful private practice. Still, moms sometimes hesitate because of the mental energy we know it takes to run two entities—the House and the Practice. We know that we have to set things up so that everyone, from our kids to our spouses to ourselves to our clients, gets and stays nourished. For this, to me, there is no substitute for good clinical supervision, mentorship, and support from a trusted supervisor, consultant, or therapist. Or all three!
I often found it difficult in the early years of my practice to write out the checks to my “team” of clinical and business consultants, but it was, and still is, money well spent. I believe that in the short and long run, the better care I take of myself, the more my practice thrives, and the more my family thrives. The investment of time and money into my own therapy and supervision, giving me a place to talk and reflect, to plan and consult, a place to work through worries, doubts, and insecurities (and celebrate successes!), has yielded me more money, resiliency, and creativity, as well as a solid and satisfying professional life.
Read the rest of this article at:
Additional articles from the Spring 2010 issue of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER include:
Number of Children in Foster Care Decreases, Needs Still Go Unmet
May is National Foster Care Month, a time designated by the National Foster Care Month Partnership to shine a public light on the plight of children and youth in foster care. This year, despite a marked decrease in the total number of children in foster care – from more than a half million in 2007 to 463,000 at the end of 2008 – serious issues remain, especially for older youth in care. The Foster Care Month Partnership, comprised of nearly 20 child welfare organizations around the country, calls on all Americans to help make a difference in the life of at least one young person in foster care.
A recently released study by Chapin Hall revealed that youth who reach the age of majority--age 18 in most states--and exit the system, experience futures full of hardship. More than one in five will become homeless after age 18, just 58 percent will graduate high school by age 19 (compared to 87 percent nationally), fewer than 3 percent will earn a college degree by age 25 (compared to 28 percent nationally) and one in four will be incarcerated within two years of leaving the system.
Over the last decade, the number of young people who “age out” of foster care has risen steadily – from 19,000 in 1999 to an all-time high of nearly 30,000 in 2008. On their own, without the safety net of a family or the education they need to compete in the workplace, these young adults must navigate a weakened economy offering fewer jobs and less support for vital services such as housing.
New federal legislation addresses some of the needs of this population. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, signed into law in October 2008, includes a state option to continue providing Title IV-E reimbursable foster care, adoption, or guardianship assistance payments to children after the age of 18; it also extends eligibility for Independent Living services to older youth, with certain requirements.
Everyday citizens can help to change a lifetime for a child or youth in foster care by becoming foster or adoptive parents; serving as relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, or volunteers; helping to educate federal and state public policy leaders on the issues facing children and families; urging state legislators to implement all aspects of the Fostering Connections Act; and encouraging employers/employees to volunteer their time as professional coaches and role models for foster youth or young families with children in foster care.
The National Foster Care Month Partnership consists of the following national organizations:
American Public Human Services Association/National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators; Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services; Black Administrators in Child Welfare; Casey Family Programs; Children’s Rights; Child Welfare League of America; Foster Care Alumni of America; FosterClub; Foster Family-Based Treatment Association; Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; National Association of Social Workers; National Association of State Foster Care Managers; National CASA; National Foster Care Coalition; National Foster Parent Association; Orphan Foundation of America; Voices for America’s Children
to find out more about the many ways to get involved and make a lasting difference for America’s children.
The Importance of Mental Health Starting at Birth
To highlight the importance of promoting children’s mental health from birth, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and more than 80 public and private collaborating organizations and federal programs and agencies – including new supporters, such as the Office of Head Start at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Legion Auxiliary – joined in a nationwide celebration of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 6). National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day put the spotlight on the importance of promoting positive social and emotional development in children and the need for early identification of mental health challenges.
Nationwide, more than 1,000 community-based mental health service and support providers, community programs, schools, and collaborating organization affiliates also celebrated this annual observance, marking the day with community events, youth rallies, social media campaigns, and art activities with children to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health. SAMHSA supports this program as part of its strategic initiative to promote public awareness and support of mental and substance use disorder prevention and treatment, as well as part of its activities in support of Mental Health Month.
The Awareness Day Early Childhood Forum, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, featured presentations by SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., and Dr. Joan Lombardi from the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The event included two discussion panels with celebrity parent Sherri Shepherd from ABC’s “The View,” as well as renowned family, child development, and early childhood mental health experts, who discussed why positive social and emotional development in children as early as birth is essential to their overall healthy development.
Pediatrician and author Dr. T. Berry Brazelton received the SAMHSA Special Recognition Award at the Awareness Day Early Childhood Forum for his pioneering work in pediatric and early childhood development over the past six decades. A leading force behind the pediatric health care revolution, his ground-breaking Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) is now used worldwide to recognize the physical and neurological responses of newborns, as well as emotional well-being and individual differences. His legacy continues to transform our understanding of child development.
For more information about Awareness Day and to view the list of collaborating organizations, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/children