3 Questions with Suzanne Emmi, LICSW, Clinical Director, Solstice Day School

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

Yes. My passion for working with people, youth in particular, dates back to my high school years when I worked my way through a local YMCA summer camp program. I worked with a variety of youth from different backgrounds representing cultural, socio-economic and family systems diversity. I was especially drawn to those youngsters challenged by complex family systems and interpersonal and intra-personal stress. These experiences led to a curiosity about human development, family systems and a passion to pursue psychology and ultimately a social work degree.

2. Name one thing that you wish more people understood about the professional role of social worker:

Social work is a diverse profession that encompasses a multitude of opportunities than can be shaped according to personal preferences and interests.  Work can be more micro and clinically focused, or more macro and extend to public policy, grass roots and other areas. Of note, the social work label was historically pejorative, as it was often associated with social services, including the removal of children from families.  As mental health has become more widely recognized, valued and de-stigmatized, the perception of the social work role has become one of helper, collaborator and advocate.

3. Suzanne, how does your social work career and education guide your work in your current role at Solstice Day School?

My social work education gave me a strong foundation in understanding human development. I draw upon this knowledge daily as one must understand the many facets of typical development in order to understand that which is atypical. My current role at Solstice enables me to work directly with youth and families, help shape a positive community culture, provide clinical leadership to a multi-disciplinary team that views our population through a variety of lenses and to support the professional development of individuals new to the field of mental health. Twenty one years at Solstice have shaped my understanding of how life’s experiences can not only impact cognitive and social/emotional growth, but can also create resilience.

Often that resilience comes with the introduction of one positive, accepting and caring adult in a youth’s life. The lasting impact of such relationships has given me renewed hope and enthusiasm each day and a desire to continue this work!