In honor of National Social Work Month, we’re highlighting a handful of the many dedicated social workers who stand up every day for the children, youth and families we serve. Becoming a social worker offers you the opportunity to pursue a variety of career paths, from direct clinical practice to administration to advocacy and policy roles. As such, social workers are found at every level, in every department and program area of Children’s Home + Aid.
Meet Lily Anderson, Therapist – Family Centered Services at Children’s Home + Aid
Tell us about yourself:
I consider Normal, IL to be my hometown, but I was born in Australia and have lived in Brazil, Thailand, Oregon and San Diego. Both of my parents place a high value on service to others and have been wonderful examples and influences in my desire to help others. Nonetheless, I was a “late bloomer” in the field of social work after receiving my Bachelor of Philosophy and Studio Arts degrees. I believe in a work-life balance and take time for self-care by traveling, surfing, enjoying time in my backyard, playing music, making art, exercising, and spending time with my partner, Chris, and my cat, Bodhi.
How do you use your social work background in your current position?
My first taste of social work was as a residential counselor for an adolescent substance abuse unit in my late 20s. I later had the opportunity to train clinicians at a hospital-based substance abuse rehabilitation center in São Paulo, Brazil. I also worked to promote youth substance use prevention programs in the favelas or slums of São Paulo.
I received my Master of Social Work degree at Illinois State University. During graduate school, I took a family violence class and learned about trauma, which completely changed my perspective on the nature of maladaptive behaviors. After that course, I was inspired to teach others about trauma and help heal those who suffer from it. I am currently a therapist in the Child Welfare Services program at Children’s Home + Aid and am working towards becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker later this year. Along with direct work with clients, I enjoy speaking in the community about trauma and teaching a parenting class.
Why is social work important to you?
Working in the field of social work has given me many wonderful experiences, but the most rewarding moments are seeing individuals and families become stronger, healthier and happier. It’s not an easy gig, but those moments make it truly worthwhile. I am thankful for my supportive team who help me through challenging times and celebrate the rewarding ones with me.
I believe social work is key to making the world a better place. The core values of the Social Work Code of Ethics include service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence. By combining these values with research on the effects of trauma on the brain and how we can heal from it, I believe positive transformations can occur not just at the individual level, but on a global scale. Children’s Home + Aid has been a wonderful outlet in allowing me the opportunity to grow as a therapist and as an advocate for those in need.