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Interview Assignment Comm 1010 Jeff Larson Psychologist Predrafted Question List/Schedule

1. In a brief summary, what is your official title and what does your job entail?

2. What interested you in this field, and what led you to pursue it through academic efforts?

3. What were your undergraduate studies focused on and how much did those efforts tie into your focus within your graduate school experience? Which two institutions did you receive your degrees from? 4. How many years did graduate school take for you to complete, and how were those years utilized/organized in terms of academic and experience-related learning purposes? 5. During graduate school, did you have any volunteer work, other field-work, or research that you conducted as a part of your degree? How about after your degree was obtained?

6. What was your first job after grad school and how long did you work in that role?

7. What occupations have you held since that first position, and how did they lead or prepare you for the position you currently hold at Vista?

8. What advice would you give someone who is considering the pursuit of a degree (bachelor & graduate) in Psychology? 9. In your opinion, how do you see the field of Psychology developing or evolving within the next decade? 10. What is your opinion on the programs the University of Utah has to offer, and how formative do you feel your time there was to the type of psychologist you have become? What percent of your current professional make-up has been tailored exclusively by your field-experience and professional experience rather than the training provided in-school? 11. For the record, why cant you play basketball tonight? You know they need a player, and your friends say youre a pussy and cant play offense either Thoughts?

From: Michael Ettinger To: Jeff Larson (L.C.S.W.)

Dear Mr. Larson,

I cannot express to you how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to speak with you regarding your profession. It was eye opening to hear your perspective on not only the professional application of psychological studies, but also the graduate school experience and your involvement in the treatment of atrisk and troubled youth. I myself have had struggles during adolescence and youngadulthood finding meaning in life and dealing with certain psychological issues, and what you do is inspiring to me. I feel like it is a noble academic path worth pursuing. It is a field that is becoming increasingly relevant given the changing landscape of social and societal factors, and I hope to speak with you again soon. I will take you up on the lunch offer as soon as this semester ends. I hope you have a great holiday. Thanks again.

Sincerely, Michael Ettinger

Michael Ettinger Comm 1010 Interview Memo/Analysis

My interview with Jeff Larson (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) was extremely informative and enjoyable. He is considered a primary therapist for young adults in residential and outpatient treatment, but does not have a doctorate degree. I clearly was uninformed and unknowledgeable, but I though that in order to be a mental health therapist you had to have a doctorate degree, but clearly one with a L.C.S.W degree can do the job with the right specializations and professional experience. What is rather interesting to me is the wide range of responsibilities and roles that Mr. Larson holds. He said that in addition to therapy, he provides daily mentoring, client advocacy and case management services, as well as crisis intervention. While this seems like a painful amount of difficult responsibilities and work, it also must keep things fresh and somewhat exciting for him. I think that would be the case for me. However, he used the phrase painful hours when referencing the time he spends doing paperwork and organizational tasks, so the job must not always feel so new and refreshing. It was also interesting to find out that he had no interest of being a therapist or working in the mental health field prior to his completion of his undergraduate degree, although it was a BS in Psychology. His goal was to be a physical therapist, but after doing all of his pre-med courses and working in a physical therapy office for 4 years, he decided to pursue another profession and applied last-minute to

graduate school to study social work. His graduate school experience took only two years, and for some reason I thought graduate school would take longer than that. Clearly, again I was uninformed and am happy to have asked him these questions. The practicum placements as a part of the graduate school requirements seem very interesting, and it also seems as if he was able to really tailor his course curriculum towards his desired specialization. Mr. Larson bounced around to several different professional placements after finishing graduate school. After planning to use his experience as the Department Head of Social Services at a rehabilitative hospital to become a hospital administrator, he decided to take a job with a youth-outpatient counseling/therapy center. He simply felt that working with youth was more fun, less stressful, and that it wasnt worth doing something I didnt love just to make more money. I found it extremely refreshing that he felt so comfortable revealing very personal aspects of his decisions with me including his wifes profession and her influence on his decision to study social work. He advised me to do some volunteer work or basic paid work in the field working with youth if I am seriously interested in the field, as well as taking the basic classes on psychology and social work. He feels like the field and profession is changing in a way that is putting more significance on research and its application, as opposed to the past where practices were rarely based on research efforts. He stated that very little of his current practices are reflective of skills learned in the classroom. Field work seems to be the most significant way to shape or build professional and practical knowledge. His practicum/graduate school

experience was the most valuable learning experience outside of his detailed professional experience, because it forced him outside of his comfort zone. I felt Mr. Larson understood the questions I was asking of him very clearly, and always replied with an appropriate and satisfactory response. Some of the answers surprised me, but I find that more reflective of my lack of specific knowledge in the field and profession than anything else. His graduate school experience was clearly necessary and formative, more so than his undergraduate experience, but it seems as if he attributes almost all of his knowledge and expertise to fieldwork and hands on experience. That is one thing that did not surprise me. The field is so random and inconsistent with the cases you encounter that very little could prepare you the way that field-experience does. I am extremely glad to have conducted this interview and to have asked the questions I did. He seemed more than happy to answer my questions and took the time to answer in detail. It was very enlightening experience.

Michael Ettinger Interview Assignment Comm 1010 Jeff Larson Licensed Clinical Social Worker (L.C.S.W.) Interview Transcript 1. In a brief summary, what is your official title and what does your job entail? I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (L.C.S.W.). My official title at VCS is Primary Therapist. My job entails providing individual, family, and group therapy to clients aged 18 to 26 years old. Along with providing therapy I also provide daily mentoring, client advocacy and case management services, as well as crisis intervention. I also spend many painful hours each week documenting therapy visits, creating treatment plans and reviews, collaborating with insurance companies, and consulting with coworkers. 2. What interested you in this field, and what led you to pursue it through academic efforts? I honestly had no interests of doing this during my undergraduate education. I had always wanted to become a physical therapist and completed all my pre med course work during my undergrad years. After working in a physical therapy office for almost four years I decided I wanted to do something different. My wife was in graduate school to become an LCSW and thought it might be something I would enjoy. I applied the night before the deadline and two weeks later I received an admittance letter from the UofU Graduate School of Social Work. I did some research on the field and found out that I could find jobs working with youth which I found very appealing. I dropped my plans to study in the medical field and accepted admittance. 3. What were your undergraduate studies focused on and how much did those efforts tie into your focus within your graduate school experience? Which two institutions did you receive your degrees from? My undergraduate degree is a BS in Psychology. I was studying to do some sort of career in the medical field. While in college I not only completed all of my psych coursework but I completed almost all of my medical school prerequisites. Basically, I took a lot of science coursework. The psychology classes were very helpful in preparing me for Grad school and much of the material was re-taught or expanded upon during grad school. I initially felt very out of place and underprepared in graduate school as I was one of the youngest students and with very little real world practice. Most students had been out of college for a while and practicing social work in some capacity. What I lacked in real world experience I

made up for academically as I was still in the school mode. Many fellow students had been out of school for years and years. I graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Psychology and a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) degree. 4. How many years did graduate school take for you to complete, and how were those years utilized/organized in terms of academic and experience-related learning purposes? Graduate school took two full years to complete. You took 12 hours of course work each semester (4 total). During the school year I also completed two practicum placements which consisted of 20 hours of work per week. I was not paid for work my first year practicum but received a stipened of $7 per hour my second year (I was just happy to get something.) Academic classes were usually fairly small and involved a lot of group interaction and discussion. I chose the mental health domain as opposed to medical, criminal justice, and management. This meant that more of my classes were focused on therapeutic interventions, working with individuals with mental health problems, study of the DSM IV (Diagnostic Manaual) etc. My field placements were also geared toward mental health treatment. 5. During graduate school, did you have any volunteer work, other field-work, or research that you conducted as a part of your degree? How about after your degree was obtained? I completed two internships while in graduate school. My first year I worked in a Jr High classroom for kids with significant behavior and emotional problems. I would meet with kids during the school day. It was a behavior modification program so a lot of what we did was aimed at changing negative behaviors. My second year placement was working with court referred teenagers in an outpatient clinic. We provided both mental health and substance abuse treatment. I was quickly given a caseload of teenagers to work with. The therapy was more traditional in approach. During graduate school I was also working 3 shifts per week as a staff member for Vista Residential Treatment Center which was also great experience and taught me a lot, as well as gave me some good connections. So for the record, that 45 plus hours of work per week plus full time school. It was quite stressful. 6. What was your first job after grad school and how long did you work in that role? I was hired right out of grad school by my second year practicum site. It was an agency called Youth Support Systems. I was very popular with the kids we served as an intern and the boss begged me to stay. I also worked part time for a wilderness program for a while but turned down a full time offer to stay with Youth Support Systems. I worked at YSS for 3 and a half years.

7. What occupations have you held since that first position, and how did they lead or prepare you for the position you currently hold at Vista? Aside from my practicum placements, wilderness time, and Youth Support I also provided mental health therapy to Children at Life Matters Counseling. I did this part time to earn extra money. I stopped doing therapy all together after YSS and went to work for a rehabilitative hospital as the Dept Head of Social Services. I acted in this capacity for nearly a year. The goal at the time was to completely switch gears and become a hospital administrator. I was offered a job as an assistant administrator but turned it down when I was also offered a job with Vista. I had decided that working with youth was more fun and less stressful and it wasnt worth doing something I didnt love just to make more money. 8. What advice would you give someone who is considering the pursuit of a degree (bachelor & graduate) in Clinical Social Work? I would suggest that early on you do some volunteer or paid work in the field working with people. If you dont like helping and dealing w/ people with problems then this isnt going to be a good gig for you. I would also recommend you take some basic social work and psychology practice classes. If someone is thinking of using the degree to do therapy than I would recommend they go to therapy and experience it as a client. Even if they dont feel like they have issues that warrant it. Not all people who become L.C.S.W.s practice as therapist. Most actually dont. 9. In your opinion, how do you see the field of Social Work developing or evolving within the next decade? The field is becoming more and more research based. For years social workers practiced without much research to back of practice techniques. This was always a knock from other academics, particularly those in the medical field. You are no seeing a big push to work within practice guidelines that have been studied and tested. You are also seeing a bush toward practicing with the guidelines of ins companies as many services are influenced heavily by managed care. 10. What is your opinion on the programs the University of Utah has to offer, and how formative do you feel your time there was to the type of social worker you have become? What percent of your current professional make-up has been tailored exclusively by your field-experience and professional experience rather than the training provided in-school? To be honest, very little of the way I operate and practice was developed in a classroom. I firmly believe that therapy outcomes are most heavily influenced by the relationship formed between therapist and client rather than specific methodology. I did take away some good information from practice classes. I took an entire class on rational emotive therapy and I still heavily rely on this. My

practicum experience while in grad school was very valuable. It forced me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to practice hands on. They have drastically improved teaching practices specific to therapy. They now have a mirrored room where students have the opportunity to watch faculty in practice. They also do therapy in the room and are given feedback. This could have been super helpful I have been supervising graduate level students for the UofU for the past 6 years. I try to supplement some of what the students dont get in school with real life practice.