By now, Masters in Social Work (MSW) students Alyssa and Caroline are not only familiar faces at our job skills development program at Girl AGain boutique, but also they have become valued members of the Yes She Can training program.
Since last September, Alyssa and Caroline have spent part of their graduate level field placement learning and working alongside our Yes She Can professional staff to provide coaching to the young women participating in the Yes She Can job skills training program.
While balancing work and graduate school responsibilities, our interns often participate in and contribute to our staff meetings and trainee team meetings.
For the past year, Marjorie and I have discussed taking on the responsibility of supervising a graduate level social work student. Contemplating this possibility, we met with a professor from New York University Silver School of Social Work. However, we knew that to provide a meaningful experience for interested students, it required a significant time commitment on our part. MSW students need to be supervised by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who provides hours of over site and documentation. Yet, we felt our trainees could benefit from coaching from peers closer to their age. So, last fall we partnered with YAI (an agency that has served adults with developmental disabilities since 1957) to share the supervision of one first year graduate student from New York University and one second year graduate student from Fordham University.
We are grateful to Autism Speaks for providing a grant to cover the cost of our supervision of the graduate students, helping to develop the next generation of professionals to help young adults with autism achieve their potential.
Our two graduate students came to us with different levels of exposure and experience working with people diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with other intellectual disabilities. Both were interested in increasing their knowledge base about autism and associated mental health issues, how families are impacted and adjust and in understanding and developing practical strategies that can help support women on the spectrum. As a result, our graduate students each spend 4-6 hours per week coaching our trainees, learning from our professional staff and engaging in regular supervision.
Additionally, both graduate students have been working on our plan to launch the Women’s Success Team, a supportive social group specific to young women diagnosed on the autism spectrum. We have been setting up the logistics, working on establishing eligibility criteria and intake processes, organizing the ice-breakers we expect to use to help the members learn about each other and get the group up and running. Always more challenging than we expect, and yet exciting to work on together.
During a recent supervisory session, one of our students shared how her experience at Yes She Can has increased her self-confidence in working with individuals with disabilities. She has used some of the skills she has acquired during her placement hours with us in other settings and has a better understanding of how she can use herself differently with more effective outcomes.
We are thrilled to have both our graduate students on board and look forward to their successes with us and beyond.
Please come visit our program on Tuesdays or Thursdays to see our grad. students in action.