When Debi Pittock joined the Department of Psychiatry in 2015, she was the only full-time therapist. Four years later, the division has grown to 12 therapists, and she has been named Social Work Lead.
In her new role, she will organize the growing division as well as attend leadership meetings to keep fellow therapists informed of critical decisions within the department.
“In the past, we felt heard, but we didn’t feel connected,” Pittock said. “I can now relay things which are being discussed at meetings. In the past, things would be said at meetings, but it wouldn’t get back to us right away. Now, everyone feels connected because they have someone there to bring back the information.”
Pittock’s team will add three new social workers this summer to increase the number of therapists to a dozen. While the division has grown from two full-time and one part-time social workers in 2016 to twelve this year, Pittock said the division still isn’t large enough.
“We’ve been growing steadily, but we still constantly have a waitlist. I have no doubt when these new hires start; their schedules will fill up in a hot second.”
Pittock says there’s a need for social workers because their patients need consistent treatment and need to be seen on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
“We deal with a lot of chronic problems which need lots of therapy, intense redirection, coping, and processing skills. We treat people with therapy modalities, and the clients we see come to us for specific types of treatment.”
To see more people, several therapists, including Pittock, have started therapy groups. Since April 2016, department therapists have added trauma group therapy, DBT group therapy, psychodynamic group therapy, and others.
“The goal for next year is to increase individual and group therapy,” Pittock said. We also need to look at our roles in developing sub-specialty clinics. When a doctor starts a new sub-specialty clinic, it’s vital that those clinics have assigned therapists,” Pittock said.