Social worker broadens expertise, wins more clients, with certificate program

When a Madison social worker recently found herself working more often with middle-aged adults suffering from substance abuse than with her usual older adult clients, she visited the Continuing Studies website—and discovered a series of courses that could help her grow in her field.

Jessica Schroeder registered in the noncredit Substance Abuse Certificate Program last spring. From the required six seminars, Schroeder gleaned more than she ever expected.

“Flo Hilliard is a well-informed and wonderful presenter,” says Schroeder of the program’s  director and lead instructor. “So are the guest instructors. Very few continuing education is as helpful as these programs are.”

Completing the certificate last summer helped Schroeder gather more resources and handouts to use with her new clients. She also learned several strategies that make her, a practitioner in her twenties, more comfortable communicating with older clients about these issues.

“After discovering how to apply Motivational Interviewing techniques and how to use the tools of cognitive behavioral therapy,” she notes, “I can help my older clients relax and encourage them to discuss their experiences in a conversational way.

“I also enjoy using the meditation and mindfulness practices that we explored in the program. Social workers often think we have to save the world, and that can be overwhelming. These strategies really make my work more fulfilling and my life less stressful.”

Another result of the program has been an unexpected bonus for Schroeder: “Now that I’ve gained this new knowledge, I’m getting more calls to work in the substance abuse area.”