Allyson Bence’s early life experiences with social workers had a profound impact on her. Things have come full circle, and now she’s a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker (LSCSW).
“My inspiration is driven by my value of wanting to give back,” she says.
It was her practicum for a Master of Social Work that led Allyson to the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas. A practicum is a course designed to give students supervised experiences in their field of study. Allyson was then hired as a behavioral health consultant. During this time, she was inspired to move on to the next and highest level of social work, a licensed specialist clinical social worker.
“A big motivator is empowering individuals and being witness to a small part of one’s well-being journey,” Allyson says. “I am a little bit biased, but I have the best patients, and they are the reason I love what I do. Working with so many unique individuals and witnessing their growth is an honor.”
Initially, Allyson never considered getting a Master of Social Work, let alone becoming an LSCSW. The opportunity presented itself through the collaboration between the University of Kansas and Pittsburg State University with a Master of Social Work pilot program.
She applied to grad school, and there was a scholarship opportunity through the HRSA Integrative Health Scholars Program. She interviewed and received the scholarship, which led her to learn more about the benefits of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). She was connected to CHC/SEK because the agency followed the integrative healthcare model, providing her with a practicum experience that tied into the scholar’s program.
“For so many years, we’ve dreamed of creating an organization that not only provides great care but also supports individuals in realizing dreams and broadening skills,” says Jason Wesco, CHC/SEK President and Chief Strategy Officer.
Vice President of Behavioral Health Eric Thomason, PMHNP, shared the same sentiment.
“It has been a great journey to watch,” he says. “To see Ally when she started her education, entered practice, and finally achieved terminal licensure is inspirational. It is important to keep in mind that not every clinician gets here. We are so lucky that Ally continues to pick CHC every day. I can’t wait to see the next article when Ally helps her first LMSW get their clinical licensure.”
Allyson had many mentors, including her field Master of Social Work instructor, Tiffani Swarnes, LSCSW. She had three clinical supervisors during her LSCSW training plan experience, which included April Lemon, Charrisa Castillo, and Pamela Anderson, all LSCSWs. All her collegiate relationships also helped her grow as a practitioner. In two years, Allyson will be qualified to do the same for other LMSWs working toward their LSCSW training.
“I’m looking forward to furthering my competency and eventually being able to supervise LMSWs starting their LSCSW training journey,” she says. “I would be honored to be a part of providing supervision to students and LMSWs, as CHC/SEK has presented that opportunity to me.”