Social Work Interview featuring Devon Turley MSW, CSW

Social Work Interview featuring Devon Turley MSW, CSW
By: Tiffany Thompson, MSW, CSW

Video Social Work Interview featuring Devon Turley MSW, CSW By: Tiffany Thompson MSW, CSW

Transript for Social Work Interview:
Interviewer: “Hello Everyone! My name is Tiffany Thompson and I am an MSW in Louisville, KY. Being that March is National Social Work Month and Women’s History Month, I am excited to introduce my friend and colleague Devon Turley! Devon earned her MSW from Spalding University where we graduated from the Master of Social Work program in 2015. She is also a gifted artist and someone I have appreciated getting to know over the last four years. Thank you Devon for agreeing to share your experiences as a social worker with us!”

1. Why did you become a social worker? Devon: “I became a social worker to advocate for others that maybe don’t have a voice for themselves. Being involved in social justice issues is really important to me. It always has been because, I was kinda raised that way. You know doing protests in the 60s, 70s. Working to help abolish apartheid, anytime we could do that, we did it. So, I was kinda raised as a, as a social justice worker.”

2. What is your current position?
Devon: “I’m actually in clinical practice. I’m a therapist- working CSW-working toward my LCSW-Licensed Clinical Social Worker. So, I do therapy with individuals, groups, couples, families-all age groups from like 7 to adults.” Interviewer: “Ok, so you have a good mix of clients then?” Devon: “Yea, umm hmm.”

3. What kind of social work (micro, mezzo, macro, meta) do you practice? Devon: “I think it’s a combination because you’re gonna utilize community aspects for your clients. Umm…sometimes you might have to send someone to a psychiatrist for medication. I, personally in my practice try to avoid that at all costs. There are aspects where you might have to be dealing with CPS, you know Child Protective Services, or Adult Protective Services sometimes. I’ve run into that, both of those, in my practice. So, I think it’s a combination even if you are in practice doing therapy.”

4. What special gifts/skills do you bring to the table? Devon: “My empathy and self-awareness. Umm…we’ve gotta keep ourselves in check. But, self-awareness and compassion. Being tolerant of all situations. You know you can’t bring your judgement into social work. You can bring your opinion and you can bring your passion but, keeping your judgement out of it. And, making sure that you are extremely self-aware. Interviewer: “Yes, that’s very important.”

5. Can you reveal a professional experience that was a learning/teaching moment for you as a social worker? Devon: “Mmm…I would have to think about what I did for my thesis, we called it culminating at the university that we attended, with the aspect of the heroine epidemic that’s going on. Utilizing and being part of a grass roots organization from the ground up was very, very rewarding and total social work from beginning to end. And actually, there’s not an end because it continues today to train people with naloxone administration. And, umm…it’s saving a lot of lives. And, it is such a bad epidemic all over the country. All over our country.” Interviewer: “Right, right exactly.” Devon: “And, to utilize everything that, you know, you can find in social work in that aspect. It was, it was, it was pretty awesome.”

6. How do you practice self-care? Devon: “Self-care, whew. Again, we were extremely lucky to go to the university that we went to. Umm…they were very strong on self-care. I think our cohort even wrote a book about self-care from A to Z.” Interviewer: “Right.” Devon: “Personally, I umm…meditate, do a lot of mindfulness based practices. I’ll get out in nature. Umm…meet with colleagues once a month at least, sometimes more. Uh, get together and have dinner. And, discuss the angst of the world and the injustices that we’ve seen-kinda brainstorm. And then, when you’re just sharing, you know your week or your month, you know with them helps. It definitely helps. Umm…but, you have to be able to balance that because we don’t want any vicarious trauma going on.” Interviewer: “Right. That sounds like a good one to remember.”

7. What energizes your professional practice? Devon: “I would have to say being informed, staying informed, doing really good professional development. Reading new articles. Umm…making sure that I have all the information I need to aid the client that I’m working with at the time. Customizing it to them and staying informed. Interviewer: “Definitely, that’s something that can be easily done as well.”

8. What advice would you share with recent social work graduates? Devon: “Keep an open mind. Umm…there are so many aspects of social work and if you are in school and you think, ‘I might wanna do this.’ And then, you get out and you’re like, ‘Well I don’t really know what to do.’ And there are so many aspects. Keep an open mind to everything that comes your way. Cause there are opportunities around every corner.” Interviewer: “I definitely think that’s a good way to look at it.”

9. What does HOPE mean to you? How do you utilize hope in your own life and for your clients? Devon: “Ahh…hope. Just the general aspect of clients doing well. That gives me hope. When a client comes in and, as social workers we kinda try to utilize the self determination of the client. Allow them to move at their own pace. Although, you still wanna be able to aid them in umm…moving forward. You want to give them the opportunity to move forward. They have a lot more self-satisfaction when they do that. And, that gives me hope. And when they do well that’s the perfect definition of hope in social work that I see.” Interviewer: “I think that’s a great way to define it.”

10. Considering the “Stand Up” statement for National Social Work Month, how do you stand up for social justice in your agency or community? Devon: “Advocating for that client. Umm…in therapy, if I’m working with children, that child is my client. So, I’m gonna concentrate and advocate for them. I’m gonna keep abreast of what’s going on socially, in the communities, or nationally-on that level. I’m gonna pick up the phone and call the legislators. Umm…I may have to go to our state capital and umm…be present. You know, rallies and you know, numbers bring about change. And umm…just staying informed. Going to fundraisers, you know and umm…an aspect of a community agency that is near and dear to my heart. Umm…go outside and protest. Sometimes it’s really hot, sometimes it’s really cold, sometimes you need to go out there and stand up and be present, you know. Bodies and numbers bring about change.” Interviewer: “Right, so there’s lots of different ways to stand up as a social worker.” Devon: “Absolutely.”

11. What resources (books, articles, websites, apps) do you use on a regular basis or would you recommend to other professionals in the field? Devon: “The NASW newsletter, definitely. Umm… you want to get that as often as possible. Read it, because there’s so much information in there. I get a lot of information, for me personally as a therapist. I use treatment books, and they are specific. You can get treatment books for children, treatment books for adolescents, treatment books for adults. Uh…SAMSHA is a really, really good resource. They give free stuff too.” Interviewer: “Yes, yes. They do which is so helpful.” Devon: “And there’s all kinds of information in that. And, you know staying abreast, you know. I even read Psychology Today. You know? Ah…umm…we have to…and for me that’s staying open to the medical model of being a clinical social worker. And, also sticking to my roots. And, you know the self-determination of being a social worker for our clients. They need self-determination, so…umm…yeah. There’s so many aspects where you can get information. I really have …uh…utilized those treatment books, a lot. And, SAMSHA can give you a site where you can find related material.” Interviewer: “It sounds like you’ve had a really rich learning and growing professional experience since you’ve graduated.” Devon: “I have. And, guess what? I don’t know everything yet. And, I learn something new every single day. That’s the beauty of social work. You will never be bored. You…uh…will always be open. And, that’s another thing…being open to new experiences and learning new things every day. And, that comes with social work.”

Interviewer: “Well, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. And, I look forward to your continued success as you continue to advocate for our community and for your clients. Thank You!”
Devon: “Thank you, so much.”

I hope you have enjoyed this interview with social worker Devon Turley MSW, CSW.

*Interview questions are adapted from [ ] By: Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW, founder of
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