I practice in schools and five compelling reasons why you should too!

Social workers have long been proponents of community based work. However, as private practice opportunities increased, the desire to make more money, and complications imposed by insurance companies, social workers have found comfort and stability by adapting to the traditional medical model of practice.
However, I challenge social workers to retreat back to our original roots and return to community based practice. By integrating with local schools and community centers, I’ve built a successful practice. I am among a few child therapists in my state. The need for services for children is huge and not likely to decrease in the foreseeable future. The question I asked myself is, if children are going to receive quality mental health services, how and who will provide them? If I consider myself an expert, how will I use my knowledge to assist those in most need? If I’m sitting in an office located in the suburbs, how will families who live in cities and rural areas reach me? I solved many of my own questions and concerns by developing a model of practice that has worked well in schools and other community settings. I’ve grown from 2 therapists to 12 over the past three years. Collectively, we provide services to over five hundred children during the school term.
Here are five reasons why you should consider this model of practice:
1. Social workers have roots in community based practice. How are you achieving this goal?
2. No show rates are very high in most office based practices. Being in schools decreases the no show rate tremendously.
3. As practitioners, we have the responsibility to educate others about mental health issues. Schools provide an audience who want more resources and educational opportunities
4. Advocacy—this is another traditional role and value of social workers that we sometimes slip away from. Being in a school setting allows us to advocate for children in very meaningful ways. For example, how many schools recognize mental health disorders as ‘real’ medical disorders and provide accommodations? Having a practice in the school allows you to advocate for your clients on the spot.
5. De stigmatize mental health and therapy—Ha, imagine social workers playing a role in decreasing the stigma of mental health and therapy! It’s what we do however, if we’re ‘invisible’, how does that happen? I’ve found that children are the least judgmental when it comes to mental health and counseling. Therapists in schools have ability to reinforce the normalcy of asking for and receiving help.
Bonus: You can increase your practice revenue. After all, we need to make money and receive compensation for the good, hard work we do. Providing services in schools eliminates your no show or cancellation rate. Parents and children are more compliant because you are reducing many obstacles that make it difficult to get to your office.