When did you have the first light-bulb moment in your career?

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Jennifer McClendon, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno for the School of Social Work’s online Master of Social Work program, shares the first light-bulb moment in her career.


I’ve had a few light-bulb moments in my career. But, the one that comes to mind is more of a gradual dimmer switch scenario. I worked for a time as a mobile outreach crisis counselor for a suicide and mental health crisis hotline, being dispatched to do emergency assessments with individuals in crisis. Our job was to make sure the client could be safe and to create a short term plan to connect the client with community resources.

Some of the communities I was dispatched to had very few accessible services. This seems so obvious now, but I was stunned to realize that I couldn’t be an effective mental health practitioner unless there was effective policy practice happening to ensure the availability and affordability of services.

Since then, I’m always reminding students that the distinction between micro or direct practice, and macro or policy practice, isn’t real. Or fair, or helpful. Micro and macro practice are two sides of the same coin. We can’t achieve well being for individuals or communities without both.