Working in Community Mental Health with Diverse Populations
Rocio Reyes, '12, was definitely going to medical school. Avidly interested in mental health, she was a comparative human development major with a minor in Romance languages on the premed track at the University of Chicago College. She planned to become a psychiatrist with a social work degree.
“But really the only kind of doctor I wanted to be was a psychiatrist,” Reyes explains. “Then I realized that I wanted to do more with talk and less with medication. So I started doing some research and I realized that social work was about the individual in the environment, whereas psychology and psychiatry was more about the process and less about the environment. And I realized that while there is much to be said for process, looking at the environment – especially where kids are involved – really interested me.”
Reyes also determined that social work offered a lot more flexibility than medicine and that she could do a lot of different kinds of work with an SSA education. During spring break of her third year, she started looking at programs and she learned about the AB/AM program at SSA.
“The AB/AM degree was very attractive, because it saves a year and it saves money,” Reyes says. “But the program itself just seemed to better suit me than many of the others. The AM program makes you a well-rounded clinician or administrator. And other programs don’t have a policy classes that apply to the degree.”
Reyes’ held a field placement in outpatient therapy at Resurrection Outpatient Behavioral Health. She pursued the placement because she liked what it had to offer – the opportunity to work with diverse populations in a community mental health program with wraparound services.
“I work very closely at Resurrection with the Latino population, which I really love. In fact, my entire caseload is in Spanish,” Reyes says. “Also, I get the opportunity to do everything from intake and mental health status checks to working with clients in individual, group and family treatment. I have all different kinds of clients. My youngest is 3 and my oldest is 75, but I do tend to see more adolescents than anyone else.”
Reyes explains that what she learned in the classroom has helped her to build confidence as a clinician.
“The information about theory and intervention, you absolutely end up using it in your internship,” Reyes explains. “A lot of the clinical approach is second nature to me, but it is compelling to take what I learn in class and really make it work.”
Reyes hopes to find a job in the Chicago area that is very similar to that placement. She would like to work in outpatient mental health care as a clinician, working with children adolescents in the Latino community.
“I really enjoy my work and I look forward to starting my career,” Reyes said. “SSA has really prepared me for any kind of work I choose to do in the future."