With Dual MSW/MA in Child Development, Class of 2023 Grad Adriana Bass Secured Prestigious Residency
In her first post-college job as a teacher of children who are developmentally disabled and neurodiverse, Adriana Bass became fascinated with how children develop. “Every child is so different and unique,” she said. “I love that everyone has their own way of developing.” To fulfill that new academic interest, Adriana began exploring Master of Arts in Child Development programs. She discovered that Sarah Lawrence College offers a dual degree program with NYU Silver that would enable her to earn a Master of Social Work at the same time. She was compelled by social work’s person-in-environment perspective and the fact that with an MSW as well as an MA in Child Development, “I could get licensed, have my own practice, and work with families too, so it seemed very much the perfect program for me.”
Now, as a new MSW/MA graduate, Adriana has accepted a position in the inaugural cohort of The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services Social Work Residency as one of six Behavioral Health Clinicians in the Early Childhood Mental Health track. Through the highly selective, three-year program for new MSW graduates, she will work with young children and families in one of The Jewish Board’s Early Childhood clinics and gain intensive training in early childhood mental health competencies and evidence-based models. The innovative Residency offers a full-time competitive salary and benefits, enhanced supervision and mentoring, treatment and supervision hours and exam preparation towards clinical licensure, and peer support. “It’s an incredible opportunity to gain super specific knowledge and get hands-on experience,” Adriana said.
A Transformative Learning Experience
Adriana credited her dual degree program with preparing her well for The Jewish Board Residency. “I particularly enjoyed learning theory,” she said, “and my classes in theoretical foundations at Sarah Lawrence were the perfect pairing for my internships through NYU. Silver placed me in amazing agencies with wonderful supervisors.”
Adriana did her first MSW practicum as an intern at The Parkside School, an elementary school in Manhattan for children with a range of language-based learning difficulties. There she conducted play therapy sessions with ten small socialization groups and one individual student. She also participated in interdisciplinary meetings with teachers, speech therapists, and occupational therapists at the school, and received strong supervision from her Field Instructor.
Her final year, she was placed at Nido de Esperanza (Nido), a non-profit early childhood intervention program in Washington Heights. Among other things, she provided bilingual counseling and case management to parents of children ages 0-3 in order to foster attachment with their children; provided mental health counseling to perinatal clients through the prenatal and postnatal period and connected them to needed resources in the community; and created and implemented a play-based curriculum for a group of parents and their toddlers.
“Nido is amazing,” said Adriana. “I could not speak more highly of the organization or my supervisor, Gisselle Pardo,” who is both Nido’s co-Executive Director and a Field Coordinator and Faculty Advisor at NYU Silver. “During the internship, Giselle was always looking for ways to give me opportunities to do the work that I was most interested in. For example, she knew I had a passion for play therapy so she asked me to lead a group for toddlers and moms on play. So she was always very specifically helpful in trying to prepare me for my career.”
Adriana noted that Nido also provided her an opportunity to hone her Spanish skills in a professional setting. “I am Hispanic and I grew up speaking Spanish,” she said, “but using it professionally is very different. You think you know the right word for something and then you realize ‘oh never mind.’ Nido encouraged us to be okay with not knowing and just be humble and human, and say ‘what is the word to describe that?’’ or to look it up, and to not try to present ourselves like we know everything.”
Taking the Next Step
Gisselle was also the person who told Adriana about The Jewish Board Residency opportunity and wrote one of her recommendations. “As soon as Gisselle mentioned the Residency, I read all the information I could find about it,” said Adriana. “It sounded perfect; very on the spot for what I wanted to do, including both play therapy and attachment work.” In fact, for her MA in Child Development from Sarah Lawrence, Adriana had written a thesis paper drawing from her experience at Nido on the relationship between play and attachment through a culturally sensitive lens.
Adriana said The Jewish Board Residency, which begins on August 28, “gives me an opportunity to not only work with kids zero to 7 but also to work with families and parents and children together, which is something I did not think I wanted to do. But now, after working at Nido, I can’t really imagine spending my whole career working with children only, and not involving the parents or the family” One of the things she said she learned from social work that she had thinking about all along is that “you have to look at the child in their environment and recognize the context and all the different overlapping spheres of their life.”