March is National Social Work Month (NSWM), and this year’s theme is: “Social Work Breaks Barriers.” Here at Gaudenzia, social workers play an integral role in the work we do to help individuals with substance use and co-occurring disorders recover.
To kick off NSWM, we’re spotlighting Corporate Outpatient Operations Director, Andrew Schmitt, LCSW. Keep reading to learn more about Andrew’s journey and how he uses his skill set to help others every day.
If you or someone you love needs help with substance use and co-occurring disorders, please call Gaudenzia’s 24-hour Treatment & Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP(4357) or email [email protected]rg today.
Andrew graduated with a Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University in 2003 and went on to receive his LCSW in 2006. He has worked in a variety of substance use disorder treatment settings, including withdrawal management, methadone maintenance, private practice, residential and outpatient programs, and employee assistance programs. Andrew has extensive experience in both for-profit and non-profit treatment systems.
How Do You Interpret the 2023 NSWM Theme: “Social Work Breaks Barriers”?
We “Break Barriers” because we can and do fit any mold and address any need. Social workers strive to provide service to humanity as a collective and to preserve social justice. There is no stereotypical social worker, and thereby, no barrier we cannot overcome.
What Are the Greatest Challenges Facing Social Workers Today?
Social workers today face unprecedented challenges. There is a myriad of issues in current society. The aftermath of Covid-19, gun violence, substance use, climate concerns, injustice, inequality, to name a few. We need social workers’ unique blend of scientific knowledge and caring practice more than ever, however, with staffing shortages and the incalculable ways in which the pandemic continues to affect us, burnout and self-care are challenges that need to remain at the forefront of our mindset.
How Do You Take Care of Yourself to Avoid Burnout?
I tell people all the time, I am fortunate to have a wonderful family. They offer plenty of activities to keep me occupied while also keeping me humble! I am on a lifelong endeavor of being as healthy of an individual as possible — eating my vegetables, drinking water, and periodically enjoying a little exercise! In general, I try to practice what we advocate to our clients — control what you can control, be in the moment, engage in spiritual or religious activities, maintain a support system, and above all, be honest and genuine in what you do.
Where Do You Think the Field of Social Work is Headed in the Next Five to Ten Years?
My hope is that the field of social work continues to embrace technology and the wide array of opportunity and resources it provides. This is exemplified in making data-informed decisions as an agency, region, program — or even just from a client-focused perspective. Gaudenzia has been working with an AI software called Eleos Health. This encapsulates what I hope to see in the next few years — client-centered treatment services, rendered by a skilled clinician, but sharpened, individualized, and made more efficient with technology.
Do You Have Any Advice for Social Workers Entering the Field Right Now?
Never be afraid of hard work, a challenge, or struggles. Also, get licensed, get licensed, get licensed! There is nothing wrong with having choices about which direction you want to take your career. Obtaining licensure gives you so many options as a professional. It also increases the likelihood that the best of us will remain in the field for decades to come, so that we can serve countless more individuals when they are most in need.
Social Workers on the Front Lines
We are so grateful to social workers like Andrew for the care and compassion they bring to work every day. From all of us here at Gaudenzia, happy National Social Work Month!
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Need help with addiction treatment? Please contact our 24-hour Treatment and Referral HelpLine at 833.976.HELP (4357). You can also email [email protected], or learn more about our Treatment Types here.