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College of Social Work

MSW Student Earns Prestigious Fellowship

Mar. 21, 2019
Chris Woodley • 

Master of Social Work student Phylicia Currence will not only graduate with her degree this May. She is also preparing to begin a two-year training program on July 1, courtesy of a prestigious fellowship.

Earlier this month, Currence was selected as one of two students nationwide for a two-year, post-MSW fellowship in advanced clinical social work from the Yale University's School of Medicine's Child Study Center. The fellowship provides training for social workers with an interest in clinical social work with children, youth and families.

“I learned about the fellowship through Dr. (Benjamin) Roth after initially asking him for a letter of recommendation for another fellowship,” said Currence. “As we were talking, he mentioned the Yale fellowship and how a past student (Lauren Andreu) had applied. He encouraged me to apply, and the more I read about the fellowship the more I was interested. He also connected me with Lauren, and I had the chance to ask her questions, and she offered to look over my application.”

After mailing her application in mid-December, Currence was notified on Feb. 5 that she was one of 10 finalists selected for an in-person interview. On Mar. 1, she was in New Haven, Conn. for a full day of interviews with a total of 17 representatives of the Yale Family and Child Center. She only had to wait four days before she learned of the center’s decision.

“I was told that I would be notified by phone if I was selected for the fellowship and an email if I was not chosen,” said Currence. “During my lunch break at my field placement (on Mar. 5), my phone rang, and I recognized the New Haven area code. They only give people 24 hours to respond, so I immediately told them that I wanted the fellowship when they called.”

As a Social Work Fellow, Currence will be assigned to the Yale University’s Child Study Center’s child and family outpatient clinic. Her clinical experience will include clinical assessment, treatment planning, individual psychotherapy, family treatment, child and parental guidance, and case coordination and management. She will also work individually with licensed clinical social workers, who are members of the Yale Child Study Center faculty.

“I am looking forward to all of the clinical experience,” said Currence. “Since I definitely want to get my clinical licensure, I'm looking forward to receiving the clinical hours, supervision and the overall experience.”

Currence will also participate in multidisciplinary and discipline specific training, which includes didactics, intensive supervision and direct practice. In her second year, she will choose a specialization which is tailored to her individual interests and career goals. This may be specific to activities at the Yale Child Study Center, or a collaboration with hospitals, schools and other social service agencies.

“One of my broader goals is to become more comfortable with the different modes of therapy, which was one thing that interested me in the fellowship,” said Currence. “I am looking forward to more experience with CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy) and other types of family therapy.”

Currence’s specialization in the MSW program is with children, youth and families. She is also one of 26 Rural Interprofessional Behavioral Health Scholars at the college. Currence believes her studies and experiences at the College of Social Work have prepared her for the fellowship.

“Classes such as Professor (Patrice) Penney's family interventions class and other specialization courses have been very helpful,” said Currence. “My field education has also been beneficial. I am currently at LRADAC (Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission), and when I was asked interview questions such as, ‘Can you tell us about a time when…,’ I answered all those questions through my experiences at LRADAC.”

Currence’s career aspirations include opening a private practice that offers clinical services to high school-aged girls before they begin college. Assistant Professor Ben Roth, who introduced the fellowship opportunity to Currence, knows she will succeed in her fellowship and beyond.

“Phylicia is an exceptional student whose clinical work is informed by her sharp intellect, hard work, creativity and rich life experience,” said Roth. “This is a competitive fellowship at an exclusive center with a national reputation. The training she will receive, and the prestige of the program will be significant for Phylicia, her development as a social worker, and her career trajectory. She will make a valuable contribution to her fellowship at Yale, and they are lucky to have her.”

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