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College of Social Work

Alumni Spotlight: Terri Hallman, MSW '15

Sept. 17, 2018
By Chris Woodley,

Terri Hallman, LISW-CP, attended the College of Social Work while balancing life as a wife and mother. She received her Master of Social Work degree in 2015 and currently works for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health as a Child, Adolescent and Family Therapist – Clinic-Based. Hallman also has a certification in delivering trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Why did you want to study social work?

I always wanted to study social work and finally made that decision when my kids went to school. My goal was to have meaningful work in life and help underserved people in our country. 

How did the College of Social Work make it easier for you as a non-traditional student?

There were times when it was difficult to be a non-traditional student since I had a husband, kids and other responsibilities. But this program was very doable even at that time. The College of Social Work made it easier for me by having great class times during the day, allowing me to be a mom, wife and graduate student. 

How did your field education help prepare you for your career?

My first field education was in school social work, and I learned so much that year working at an elementary and high school. The second site was at Developmental Pediatric Clinic (at the USC School of Medicine) where I focused and concentrated on learning autism. I also worked on a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities certificate while working with talented professionals in a multi-disciplinary environment. Without these experiences, I would not have been as prepared for clinical social work.

What do you enjoy most about social work?

I love the moments where the person or family I am working with is seeing real change in their life because of an intervention I helped create, a referral I made, or nothing I did but show professional compassion to someone who needed to be heard because no one was listening to them. 

What was the best advice you received regarding your social work career?

Do your best to leave everything at the office each night and not think about clients after work; Self-care every night. Find things to do that you love to do because it will make you a better clinician. Self-care… Self-care… Self-care. 

What advice would you give someone considering studying social work as an adult?

Examine yourself to make sure your motives are ultimately to help others in some capacity. Do some research and decide what population you want to work with and a concentration within social work.

What do you think is one thing people don’t understand about the social work profession? 

People do not understand that we are creative problem solvers and wear different hats throughout each day. We work to advocate for our clients and listen to their worst sufferings, while trying to keep up with clinical notes and agency policies.

We are creative people working within non-creative environments. How does this reality differ from perception? We are viewed as people who can be paid very little, not valued and often overlooked in agencies. But people come to us at their worst, when they need us. Agencies often do not realize our capabilities and how much change we can affect within our organizations.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.