Jeremy Thayer, Jewish Collaborative Services’ clinical supervisor and resident of Richmond, RI, is one of JCS’ newest employees. Jeremy, a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), began full-time work at JCS in mid-August.
He holds a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies – Adolescent Development from the University of Rhode Island and a Masters in Social Work from Smith College School of Social Work, Jeremy expects to earn his doctorate in education from Johnson & Wales University in Providence by May 2021.
Q: Tell us what’s involved in your work as JCS’ clinical supervisor? What’s a typical day like for you?
A: I will oversee JCS’ Counseling Program, a community-based mental health clinic addressing a wide range of mental health diagnoses and treating families and individuals – including children and teens. I will also oversee the Kesher Program, our community-based program that places two social workers at synagogues around the state who are easily accessible to congregants who may need clinical case management, referral to services, and/or mental health treatment. Finally, I will supervise our Adoptions Options’ social workers, who support birth mothers and adoptive families through the adoption process and provide community-wide education, training and advocacy about adoption challenges and opportunities.
At this point (Jeremy’s interview took place three days after he began work!), I am still learning about JCS and creating a schedule that has some semblance of routine! Getting to know the clinicians through impromptu and scheduled clinical supervision times has provided me a wealth of knowledge about JCS’ strengths and needs. As with any human services organization, my day has the potential to be filled with meetings! At heart, I am a direct service social worker who enjoys my face-to-face work with clients.
Q: Are you still working as an assistant professor at Rhode Island College’s School of Social Work, and maintaining a private practice, too? How do you balance these competing demands? Are you someone who needs very little sleep?
A: I’ve been describing my schedule as a puzzle, where JCS, Rhode Island College, my private practice in North Kingstown, soccer and self-care all find their place on a consistent basis. To help others understand where I am and when I’m in JCS, I have posted my schedule on my office door, and I am always available by cell phone (text preferred!). Sleep occurs on my non-scheduled time! For me, teaching is another form of direct service; the face-to-face contact with students who are passionate about working with others in need energizes me.
Q: What drew you to applying for this position? Why did you want to work for JCS?
A: When I applied, I was looking for something different. While I love teaching and working in my private practice, I needed to take on a new professional challenge to develop and sharpen a new set of skills. JCS has a positive reputation in the community and throughout Rhode Island’s synagogues. I am thankful that Erin (Minior, JCS’ chief executive officer and president), Patty (Harwood, JCS’ chief of programs) and “JC” (Janelle Rousel, JCS’ director of clinical and community services) have provided me the opportunity to attach my name to such a strong organization.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish here?
A: Overall, I’d like to provide high-quality clinical supervision for the eight or so JCS clinicians who provide direct services to JCS’ clients as well as the fee-for-service clinicians JCS will hire. At many social service organizations, supervision often gets relegated to a bureaucratic task, a check-box of sorts. In contrast, it’s clear that JCS wants to ensure that our clinicians have all the tools they need to continue to provide the excellent and ethical clinical services that JCS delivers.
Q: In past employment, you worked a great deal with young children and adolescents. How do you think those experiences will inform your work here? Will you have your own clients at JCS?
A: Through my experience working with children and families, I have learned that you can’t treat a child without also involving some adult, either a parent, grandparent, group home staff member or foster parent, for example. I often ask myself, “Who’s the client here?” as a way to figure out my way forward with a young person. It’s almost always true that supporting the systems or people surround that child often helps that child to heal. In an organizational setting, I have learned to promptly pose that same question. My first goal is to identify who the “client” or system is that deserves most of my energy and time.
Q: Now, it’s time for some fun facts about yourself that you can share with your colleagues?
A: I ride motorcycles, though not as often as I’d like. I play soccer four or five times a week in the evenings and on the weekends…it’s better than going to the gym! In general, I am a relaxed, approachable person; visitors to my office might discover that I’ve taken my shoes off! It’s a way to stay grounded and connected to my work. I also tend to wear funky, fun socks, too… today I am wearing my pair of R2-D2 socks.