Q. Lt. Gatson, why did you choose social work as your profession?
I have always been a proponent for helping others in any manner that I can. In 2005, I began my journey to become a social worker because of my desire to positively affect the lives of others ethically, legally, and morally. For me, no day is ever the same in the life of a social worker. I enjoy the daily challenges and the environment to use my analytical skills on a consistent basis. I appreciate this profession as it allows reaching those individuals who are in need of guidance and encouragement in their lives.
Q. Please tell us about your education and career.
I have completed the course requirements toward my PhD in Psychology, in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Walden University, and I am working diligently on my dissertation titled: Lifestyle activity and depressive symptoms in community-dwelling older adults: Rural and urban dwellers in North Louisiana.
I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Grambling State University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Northwestern State University. I have worked in several areas of social work including administration, school social work, violence and injury prevention, hospice, and home health in both inpatient and outpatient behavioral health settings.
I have taught as a field instructor for Grambling State University, Louisiana State University and Wichita State University Masters of Social Work Programs and as a Professor at the University of Phoenix at the Bossier City, LA Campus and at Butler Community College – Andover Campus. Furthermore, I have served as the Trauma and Injury Prevention Program Director for Louisiana State University Health Science Center School of Medicine in Shreveport, Louisiana and have provided presentations to the community on a variety of topics, including ATV Prevention, Intimate Partner Violence, Fall Prevention, Safety & Awareness, Grief & Loss, Documentation, and Depression.
I am currently serving as the Marriage & Family Therapist at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas. I provide a full range of mental health services including: individual therapy, group work, marital and family therapy, readjustment counseling, case management, coordination and facilitation of optimal psychosocial functioning. In addition, I am currently serving as a clinical consultant for patients of the Mobile Vet Center (MVC) where I am providing clinical case consultation and assistance to the MVC Counselor on highly complex cases. I offer instruction/training and consultation in assessing and counseling combat veterans with PTSD to VA medical centers, private sector mental health agency professionals and others on combat veterans and PTSD. I was most recently commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Medical Reserves.
Q. How have minority social workers advanced professionally because of changing perceptions, attitudes, and political diversity?
Seeking counseling has shown an increase among minorities in the US in the past several years. Because of this increase in the minority community, a need for more minority social workers has increased also. Thousands of veterans who return home from the Iraqi war and other military deployments are minorities, and they often find it easier and/or more comforting to discuss their personal issues and tragedies with individuals with whom they can identify with. Therefore, racial pairing of clients and social workers has become one of the primary focuses of the Veterans Administration community. Moreover, there has been a tremendous reduction in the hiring process time at the federal government level. For this reason, a career in social work has become more attractive to minorities. With the changing face of US politics, I truly believe people are even more inspired to pursue their dreams and meet every expectation and fulfill every goal they set for themselves.
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