“By drawing from their own active practices, the professors were able to uniquely enrich our experience.”
A former research buyer, Melissa Brown enrolled in the M.S.W. Program to gain the theoretical knowledge and clinical experience needed to launch a career in social work. Shortly after graduating, she secured a position as a clinical coordinator and group therapist at Arbour-HRI Hospital, a private psychiatric facility in Brookline, Massachusetts. Brown, who developed strong skills in group therapy while at Simmons, sums up the rewards of her new profession: “I’m doing work that matters.”
FORAY INTO THE FIELD:
After a year of foundation coursework, Brown completed her first placement at Waverley Place, a community-based rehabilitation program at McLean Hospital in Belmont. As part of a multidisciplinary team, she counseled adults with severe mental health issues, both individually and in groups. For her second placement at Boston’s Fenway Health, Brown took her skills to the next level: she co-facilitated seven therapy groups and treated individuals one on one in the clinic’s substance abuse and behavioral health programs.
Brown describes the SSW faculty as instrumental in her transformation to practitioner. “By drawing on cases from their own active practices, the professors were able to uniquely understand the process and enrich our experience,” she says.
DISCOVERING A PASSION:
As the recipient of the Dean’s Fellowship for Group Work, Brown collaborated closely with Assistant Professor Dana Grossman Leeman, an expert in group therapy. Brown says that Leeman helped her to develop a “professional voice” and encouraged her involvement with the International Association for Social Work with Groups. At the organization’s annual symposium, Brown presented a paper on psycho-dynamic group work for men with HIV and depression, and is now a board member and international liaison for the Massachusetts chapter.
In Arbour’s partial hospitalization program, Brown counsels adult clients with a range of issues, from eating disorders to substance abuse, and conducts group therapy daily. Of her affinity for group work, she says: “The connections that happen are powerful — and empowering. The members realize that not only can other people help them but that they have the ability to help other people.”