Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Linda Mikesic

Linda Mikesic

“I am the Director of Clinical Services working in the field of chemical dependency at Austin Recovery. My current job is a combination of both management and clinical roles, and I find the mixture both exciting and rewarding. I have an agenda every day that rarely gets followed. Since residential treatment is fast-paced with many clients with raw emotions, there can be over-reacting, poor impulse control and lack of distress tolerance. My job is to stay calm, stay solution-focused, and to support the staff at all times. I also attend clinical and community meetings, write reports, attend or lead trainings, and supervise interns. In this line of work we need students that are willing to work smart, be independent at times, and take healthy risks.  You have to use your mistakes to learn, because you will make them.  We like students who are able to be open to diverse approaches, as one size does not fit all.”

Valerie Whiting

Valerie Whiting

“I am the Case Management Coordinator with the Travis County Mental Health Public Defender Office. I carry a caseload of clients and I supervise case management staff in a law office that specializes in representing clients with serious mental illness who are involved in the criminal justice system. There is no typical day at our office! Generally, I am meeting with clients in the jail, at the state hospital, or in the community. I complete assessments, evaluate to see if clients are improving or their needs have changed in any way, work on discharge plans for clients leaving jail or the hospital, and monitor some of those same clients in the community. In this line of work it’s important to listen first, be calm and confident, and be flexible and adept at handling client interactions that can be aggressive, angry, or inappropriate. We work in settings with attorneys and we are involved in the court system, where it’s important to communicate professionally. The UT School of Social Work, aside from a wonderful education, provided me with the structure and direction I needed utilize my learned skill set and to make a career out of my childhood dream of helping others.”