Joanne W. Small, MSW, LCSW-C
Consultation • Counseling • Training • Pyschotherapy • Author
Joanne W. Small, MSW, LCSW-C
Joanne W. Small
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Joanne Wolf Small, MSW, LCSW-C verified by GoodTherapy.org

About Me

My background
As a child I could always put my feelings into words. I was aware that I felt empathy for and an interest in wanting to help people. Growing up I fantasized about becoming a nurse, avidly reading a series of books about young women nurses. I volunteered as a “Candy Striper” at local hospitals.

Nevertheless, my interest later turned more to the social sciences, including sociology and psychology. It was not until my early thirties with a family of four children when I sought professional help from a skilled clinical social worker that I found the inspiration to study clinical social work. That, and various life transitions I have experienced has left a positive and marked influence on my work with people.

My roots lay in the mid-west. The “Big Red Lighthouse” you see on my website is close to Lake Michigan and the beaches and dunes I know and love. I began undergraduate work at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. I later moved to the East coast, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a psychology major and philosophy minor from the Catholic University of America (CUA), in Washington, D.C. I returned there to earn a Master of Social Work degree with a clinical casework major.

What I know
My professional experience comes from more than thirty years of work with individuals, couples and families in community-based mental health centers, and from my private practice. The people who came to me often spoke about problems with cherished relationships, and adjusting to life transitions. I know that even when people realize change is a normal part of living, these moments can still be difficult to accept, sometimes leaving us feeling stressed, powerless, and struggling. Change is especially difficult when it is unwelcome, disagreeable, or unexpected. Change can make us feel overwhelmed, uncertain, sad, or anxious about deciding our next steps.

My approach
I believe what is important it that we explore together, in a safe, confidential, and caring environment, useful and practical solutions that enable you to achieve your goals. I expect to get to know you, and know about you because I don’t accept the idea that “one size fits all”, preferring instead to tailor my approach to your individual needs.

When is it time to seek help
Of course, seeking help is an individual matter. What I suggest, before making a decision, is that you consider the wisdom in a quotation from Mya Angelou and Rabbi Hillel. Angelou said, “There is no agony like bearing an untold story.” Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me. But if I am only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?”

A synopsis of my professional experience

  • Appointed by The National Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, now called The National Department of Human Services, to serve a two-year term on a Federal adoption advisory panel.

  • Crisis Intervention Therapist with Community Crisis Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Instructor with the Montgomery County, MD Public Schools Department of Adult Education teaching classes about step parenting, parenting adopted children, coping with separation and divorce, parental burnout, positive couple's communication, and assertiveness training.

  • Trained professional staff in various mental health and social service settings at the county, state, and national levels, including the Virginia State Department of Welfare, Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents, The Psychiatric Institute Foundation, and the Maryland State Department of Human Resources.

  • Published articles about adoption and step parenting in professional journals, and peer reviewed articles for the Journal of Social Work. Published the book The Adoption Mystique, in 2007, and more recently published an article "Adopted in America: A Study of Stigma", on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), in 2013. My work is cited in publications including one of the earliest books on the subject of Clinical Practice in Adoption 1988, Pergamum Press; also sited in The Psychology of Adoption, 1990, Oxford University Press; and more recently, The Idea of Adoption: An Inquiry into the History of Adult Adoptee Access to Birth Records, 2001, Rutgers Law Review, Social Science Research Network.

  • Founded and served as executive director of a national, all-volunteer, non-profit, adoption support and education organization. And recently founded, and served as first president of Bethesda Metro Area Village (BMAV), a volunteer, non–profit, “aging in place” village for seniors living in Bethesda, Maryland.