Aaron Skinner-Spain, LCSW, MSW ’09, Pursues DSW to Expand Capabilities and Knowledge

September 15, 2016

First-year DSW student Aaron Skinner-Spain, LCSW has been a clinical social worker in New York City for the past decade. He came to the program well prepared: He holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, received his MSW from the Silver School, subsequently completed a four-year program in psychoanalysis at the Training Institute for Mental Health, and also obtained a certificate from the Silver School in Clinical Practice with Adolescents.

After receiving his MSW in 2009, he spent four years working in an educational setting and since then has been in private practice. He has extensive experience treating adults ages 18-50 from a psychoanalytic and cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approach and, he explained, “As a gay, African-American male, I am especially committed to treating queer people and people of color and to contributing to clinical social work practice knowledge in these areas.”

Aaron’s decision to pursue his DSW stems from a desire to expand his capabilities and have a greater understanding of how to address the challenges his clients experience. He was also spurred by volunteer work he has been doing since 2015 as a supervisor of MSW interns at the Training Institute for Mental Health. “Although I supervise MSW interns at the moment,” he said, “I want to start supervising practicing social workers and teach in the field of social work.”

A particular area of interest for Aaron is trauma among LGBT people of color and he has made advanced coursework and research on trauma a priority. “Already,” he said, “the DSW program has helped me to think beyond just the people I am seeing in private practice and is opening me up to a broader perspective. I am learning to understand trauma at the individual level but also at the community level. It is something I am really excited about.”

Something else Aaron appreciates about the DSW program is the respect that the faculty has for the students’ professional experience. “From the get-go I was treated as a colleague by the professors – they appreciate what I am bringing to the table, so to speak. When you are new to a doctoral program that helps with some of the insecurities and anxieties you feel starting as a student again. It was really heartening for me.”

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