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Meet Alissa Adler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alissa Adler.

Hi Alissa, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I became a social worker because of the saying “Be who you needed when you were younger.” I grew up in a family, like many, that had its fair share of dysfunction and didn’t really believe in mental health. It wasn’t until college when I took a psychology class that everything started to make sense of how my brain functioned because of my upbringing and how to change a lot of the thought processes that weren’t healthy. After graduating, a mentor directed me towards social work, seeing how important helping others and social justice were to me, and I haven’t looked back since. Throughout my career in social work, I unfortunately experienced some toxic work environments that took a toll on me physically, mentally, and emotionally, and at times made me question if I was cut out for this field.

During a “funemployment” taking a break between jobs, I started my Instagram page, SocialTwerkers, to combine my love for humor/memes, community, and helping others by sharing what I have learned throughout my career. There are so many things that we need to know as adults that we don’t learn in school, and I wanted to create a space for people to find support and resources that may help them avoid at least some of the challenges we face as mental health professionals. The page grew and it was great to network with other mental health professionals in all the stages of their careers. Connecting with others who had pages helped to bounce ideas off of each other and discuss other ways to help break the stigma, spread mental health awareness, and spread awareness about our professions. This has led to the page and community growing, sharing resources to better support both providers and clients, and starting a store for merch related to our profession.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not, becoming a therapist is no joke! The process is amazing because you learn so much, and so many things can start to make sense in our personal and professional lives, which helps us to support others. But with that comes a lot of working through our own struggles and pain we have experienced throughout our lives while being a full-time grad student and meeting with clients and holding their pain as well. Additionally, something we don’t learn in school is how to have self-respect, and this carried on after grad school as I had to learn what it meant to have professional self-respect. When we graduate, there is this semi unspoken mindset that we have to tolerate whatever job we can find because we are so new to the field and need all the experience we can get.

Unfortunately, there can be workplaces that take advantage of this mindset, whether it is expecting you to work in hostile work environments, not providing adequate training for serious situations, or paying less than the amount of work deserves. Going to therapy during this time helped me to see how this job was not a healthy work environment, how to set better boundaries, led to me finding a better job that respects its employees, and led to me having more respect for myself as a professional.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a clinical social worker and provided therapy to children/adolescents, families, and adults for about eight years. I was a community-based therapist which means I drove to my clients across Los Angeles County to meet with them in their homes, at school, in the community, even in my car. My car was my “office” for many years, as I carried all of my therapy supplies with me wherever I went and had to make various settings work for sessions from parks, restaurants, or even just sitting in my car. I mainly worked with kids and families, but I really enjoy working with teens. With my colleagues, I am known for having unique interventions when working with clients that help to keep them engaged in therapy and learn skills that they can use in their daily lives.

Growing up with ADHD, I know personally how important it is to present information to kids in a way that will keep them interested and help them retain the information. I have developed many ways to incorporate play and art into sessions, not only as a form of self-expression for clients but to give them space where they can learn and it not feel completely like school. I am proud of my therapy “toolkit” I have developed throughout my career, and being able to share with and learn from my colleagues and seeing all of the good work we do in our profession. I am currently a supervisor and I supervise therapists who are serving clients and working towards getting licensed.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can they support you?
You can follow my page on Instagram, @SocialTwerkers, contact me via email if you would like to collaborate, and check out my Esty store! I do Instagram Lives with people in the mental health profession, as well as other opportunities such as giveaways and in-person meetups (when it is safe to do so).

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

All photos were taken by Alissa Adler @SocialTwerkers

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