Social work provides the opportunity to help address social injustices that so many people encounter on a daily basis. Advocacy and lobbying to change laws are extremely important. As a social worker, my work with people and community is a way to give back to my community.
Why did you want to study social work?
I became a social worker because I like to work with people. Relationships are extremely important in life. I enjoy assisting people in transforming their mental well-being by enhancing relationships and social connections; providing education to people on the importance of mental health and wellness; and advocating for people who are often seen as invisible or voiceless in our society.
Social work also provides the opportunity to help address social injustices that so many people encounter on a daily basis. Advocacy and lobbying to change laws are extremely important. As a social worker, my work with people and community is a way to give back to my community.
I chose the clinical track in social work because the area of mental health fascinates me and to help address the disparities that still exist in the field. My clinical interests and expertise include working with women of color who suffer from anxiety, depression and racial trauma.
Where do you work?
I’m currently employed as a quality specialist at Aurora Family Service, which is part of the Advocate Aurora Health system. I’m also in private practice at Sebastian Family Psychology Practice, LLC. My clinical interests include working with women of color (particularly African American) who suffer from anxiety, depression and racial trauma. I also present workshops with a colleague and friend on racial trauma and its impact on people of color.
What has been the best social work job you had and why?
The best social work job I have had is as a clinical practitioner (psychotherapist). It is the work that I like to do. I like assisting people in addressing challenges and barriers to their mental well being by using their internal strengths. I learn so much from my patients and the resiliency that they possess to survive day to day. I also have over 15 years of managerial and leadership experience in the field. When I was promoted to management, I decided to do private practice as a way to stay connected to psychotherapy because of my love for it.
How did HBSSW help you?
The Helen Bader School of Social Welfare helped me by providing me a solid and grounded foundation in social work. As a graduate student in social work, I had a great academic team (professors and field placement instructor) who encouraged me to reach my optimal potential in school while providing me with the educational tools and skills I needed to succeed in field. I also received great messages from faculty on what I could achieve in the field as a social worker. I had a positive experience in graduate school with the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.
What is your best advice for social work students?
The work of social work is not easy; but the reward is priceless. My advice to social work students consists of several things. They are:
- Believe in yourself and what you can accomplish.
- Build relationships and connections in the field and community.
- Practice from a culturally humble approach; partner with your clients in the work, because they are the experts of their lives and have strengths and are resilient.
- Become a member of our professional association, the National Association of Social Workers – the benefits are awesome!
- Get a mentor in the field. Mentor/mentors are valuable on the social work journey.
- Keep abreast of your skills and knowledge through professional development.
Where is Dawn Shelton-Williams now?
Dawn Shelton-Williams is a quality specialist at Aurora Family Service, which is part of the Advocate Aurora Health system. She’s also in private practice at Sebastian Family Psychology Practice, LLC.