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Working with Elderly

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by twilson, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. twilson

    2+ Year Member

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    I am pretty sure at this point that I would like to get my MSW to do therapy and i will start applying for it in the Fall..but I am positive I want to work with elderly with mental illness. My worries are that I will not have the training or credentials to work with severe mental illness. This is because of the structure of all MSW programs (atleast the ones i've seen) is u can either specialize in mental health or aging.
    I was wondering if anyone had any insight on this.

    Thank you:)
     
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  3. WannaBeDrMe

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    There are several certificate programs in aging/gerontology. If your goal is to combine the two approaches, I'd focus your track on mental health/clinical with a field placement working in a geriatric psychiatric unit or long term care facility specifically w/a high concentration of elderly patients (see below for more info) and then, getting a post-degree certificate on aging/gerontology. Some of the certificate programs can be worked into your degree (post-BA certs) and those are CHEAPER b/c they fall under whatever financial aid package you are receiving for your MSW as long as all courses are at the same institution. Hope that helps...

    re: long term care facility... one of the biggest shocks to me in grad school was finding out that nursing homes are not for the old people anymore... every nursing home within a 6 county radius had an average census of at least 30% mentally ill individuals... of all ages. With no hospital care for most of the spmi in my state, the people had no where else to go... so, just choosing any nursing home for a practicum/field experience won't help you... you'd need to make sure to choose one specifically for the elderly and specifically for elderly with the needs you mention. There are gero-psych units and that might be a better fit for your goals. They are usually smaller, 10 beds, and I found them fascinating... I attended a lot of trainings on Alzheimer's and learned more than I ever thought possible... my goal was just to try and better understand aging/progression of illness/mental health and differentiating between SPMI and organic illnesses... but it was fascinating... very unique population... just not my cup of tea

    Good luck to you!
     
  4. twilson

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    Thank you very much for your feedback, getting a gerontology/aging studies certificate..I have some personal reasons for wanting to work with this population, I am curious to why you aren't particurlarly inclined to worked with them? Maybe you know something I don't :p
     
  5. WannaBeDrMe

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    No, I know very little about them actually... it's just personal for me. My psychopathology is guilt... and being around elderly people gives me a LOT of guilt that I'm not closer with my grandparents. I wasn't there when my grand dad passed and wasn't there when my grandmother passed and I haven't seen my living grandparents in over a year.

    So, to work helping to heal other grandparents doesn't make a lot of sense to me when I ignore my own...

    I'm just a really super bad grand daughter... that's all.
     
  6. xenobart

    xenobart MSW 2010
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    My MSW program has a concentration in gerontology and mental health, and I believe a few other MSW programs do as well. You only concentrate in one directly but can take additional courses not in their concentration (eg, if you're in gerontology you're required to take direct practice in aging settings, but you could also take direct practice in mental health or vice versa). PM me if you'd like more info. :)
     
  7. twilson

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    Completely understandable.. I will be avoiding all domestic violence,etc patients and settings because of family issues, I feel similar to you, I can't help someone else's family when I couldnt help my own :thumbdown:
     
  8. biogirl215

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    While I understand the sentiment (and give my sincerest sympathies for you and your family's troubles), I think that there's a definite plus that can come with clinical detachment when working with clients versus the complete lack of detachment when working with family or close friends. Of course, you would really need to watch out for countertransferance, but it's not impossible to work in similar situation as one you've been in, imo.
     
  9. WannaBeDrMe

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    Yeah, the sad thing about this field is that you can never really completely avoid anything. Even if you have the most swank professional private practice that only sees women who want boob jobs... eventually you are going to run into one who drinks, gets beaten, is anorexic, is afraid of spiders to a point of peeing her pants, is really a man, etc...

    Things are so intertwined and twisted...

    Knowing your limitations, however, can be very helpful... and I think a lot of that will come out in your training. There's a lot of reflection and personal individual therapy is encouraged. You will quickly figure out everyone's issues and hot spots... still, I wouldn't over-disclose, class isn't group therapy. We had one person who disclosed about their divorce constantly... we all branded them a flake (even though they weren't at all... just didn't have good boundaries and was re-experiencing everything).

    If you know you have issues with something like "not being able to help your family"... work on that now and as you go through your program. Find a therapist to talk with outside of school setting... it's best to handle it before you are out in the employed world. Trust me... it will come up. Everyone has something... everyone... even the most sheltered, blessed people in the field can have a reaction to this work. Imagine going from kittens and lollipops to overdoses and scar tissue... can be traumatic. Don't underestimate the value of self-care during your training and your career...

    Transference and counter-transference issues are sometimes fun to process with a group... if you have a professor who is psychodynamically trained, ask them to lead a few class sessions to pull that out in people... it's very interesting. Even if you don't adhere to a psychodynamic theory for your practice... almost every theory will have similar concepts... some of them call it your "lens"... how you view things compared to how they really are... etc.
     
  10. twilson

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    I am not totally ruling out working with those groups, but I dont think I work be able to do so objectively (reminds me of an old thread I saw about working with sex offenders and/or pedophiles)..

    I actually plan on doing some form of therapy starting this semester or over the summer because I feel that I need to deal with some aspects in a healthy way before I start telling other people how to lol
     

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