3 Questions with Stacy Ott, LCSW, Director, HART (Healing and Recovering Together) House

1. Stacy, was social work your first career choice and what attracted you to the field?

Social work was not my first career choice per se. Growing up, I knew I always wanted to help impact other people’s lives, but was never exactly clear on how I was going to do that. Twenty two years ago, I came “out of the closet” and was working one on one with an LICSW who changed my life. It was then that I realized I wanted to become a social worker to help others overcome adversity and improve their quality of life.

2. Name one thing that you wish more people understood about the professional role and the daily work of a social worker?

I wish more people understood that social workers are literally everywhere in our communities making as much of an impact as possible. They are the individuals who are working with some of our most challenging and vulnerable populations.

Social Workers work in our schools, hospitals, courts, private practices, doctors’ offices, and some are even running some of our most influential non-profit organizations. When they are not doing that, they are standing on the steps of our State House advocating, marching and working hard to push legislation through to serve and protect the populations we work with.

The daily work of a social worker can best be described as a roller coaster. It is intense, exhilarating. Sometimes you feel like as though you are upside down; yet other times it feels steady and in control.

3. Stacy, how does your social work experience and education guide your work in your current role at HART House?

My MSW program at Salem State University prepared me to lean into the discomfort of the work. It also prepared me to promote continuity of care and treatment among my clients, which is exactly what I’ve done in the positions I’ve held after graduating.

I believe my social work background has allowed me to work with such diverse populations, which in turn has prepared me for my current role as the program director at HART House. I have worked in a male prison, community corrections, at a shelter, on an in-patient psychiatric unit, as a crisis clinician and at a male residential program.

Overall, these past jobs have drastically improved my clinical skills. I’ve learned skills in risk-assessment, developing clinical relationships, advocating for clients, and the importance of collaborating with a variety of constituents.