Why You Should Join The Fabulous World of Behavioral Health Services: A Panel Discussion


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Program Success Stories

Griffin Cole

Griffin Cole

I currently serve as an Addictive Diseases Clinician with Advantage Behavioral Health Systems’ intensive outpatient substance use treatment program. Day to day, I provide direct clinical services to members of our community that are in substance use recovery through treatment planning and assessments, individual and group counseling, and referral assistance to resources. Under supervision, I additionally expand upon my experiential knowledge of social work and counseling through client staffing, case studies, and differential diagnosis exercises.

As a staunch harm reductionist, I also ensure my approach to community behavioral health is rooted in a strengths-based perspective that recognizes the agency and self-determination people have through their journeys of substance use and mental health. I employ motivational interviewing and harm minimization approaches, harm reduction education, overdose prevention and reversal trainings, and more.

My experience in the DBHDD program was an invaluable asset to launching my career. In addition to ensuring hands-on, experiential clinical training in the final year of my matriculation, seminars provided education, resources, and networking opportunities that otherwise would have been sorely missed. DBHDD was instrumental in placing me in the local community service board that I am fortunate to continue working with and saved me the hassle of completing my MSW with a scramble to find my new home. The opportunity to cultivate a future, both for myself and for Georgia’s community mental health network, is a priceless asset to channeling tomorrow’s social workers into the type of work our communities need most.

Q: What advice do you have for future graduates interested in this career?

I would advise that future graduates explore any and all options available to them so that they can find their niche. Before beginning my specialist year and DBHDD clinical fieldwork, my broad experience and interests in social work left me floating in search grounding. Finding my grounding in substance use recovery and harm reduction at both the community and clinical levels felt like coming home; I could at last stretch my quest for knowledge on this population and these people I care for so much. To do the work you love after graduation, you should take the risks toward finding it before your degree comes to an end. We owe it to ourselves as social workers to invest in our sustained passion.

Shoko Uno

Shoko Uno

Through the DBHDD Investing in the Future program, I was placed at Advantage Behavioral Health Systems where I completed my field education at the Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU). The program not only provided financial support but provided rich learning experiences. We attended seminars where we were able to learn directly from leaders in the field, ranging from youth autism services to court/justice services, and to adult substance use services. I gained a lot of insight into the history and workings of community service boards, as well as the critical role they play at the local level and within the overall healthcare system. The independent study workshops were my favorite part of the program, and I enjoyed all the guest speakers and the camaraderie. I loved my internship at the Advantage Behavioral Health so much, that I applied for a position at the CSU when I graduated. I am proud to say I am still with the CSU as an LMSW clinician.

Q: What advice do you have for future graduates interested in this career?

Community behavioral health provides a multitude of career paths. Keep your mind open as there are endless opportunities for growth and learning. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work in a clinical setting at an inpatient crisis center, since I had been so used to community-based work in the nonprofit field working with individuals with IDD. However, I’m so glad I went with an unfamiliar route, and have found another passion in working with adults with mental health and substance use disorders. We need more people in this field who will be committed to social justice, healthcare equity, recovery, and providing quality mental healthcare services.

Lanie Mathis

Lanie Mathis

I am a Clinical Lead (supervisor) for Clarke County Court Services at Advantage Behavioral Health Systems. I currently supervise 2 staff and I am looking to hire another masters level clinician.

I work directly with the Western Judicial Circuit Family Treatment Court and Treatment and Accountability Court (Mental Health Court). I provide treatment for the court participants and serve as a liaison and treatment representative for ABHS on the two accountability court teams.

I am trained in basic EMDR and over 5 different evidence-based group curriculums. I work closely with Judges, attorneys, DFCS, CASA, case managers and court coordinators.I have also served as a treatment peer reviewer for other Family Treatment Courts in the state.

I am also involved in the Athens-Clarke County task force, SAFE: Strategically Addressing the Fentanyl Epidemic.

Frances Farmer

Frances Farmer

I work at Viewpoint Health Rockdale Outpatient Center where I work as a behavioral health clinician completing intakes, comprehensive assessments, treatment plans, and safety plans. Under the supervision of an LCSW, I develop diagnostic impressions according to the DSM-5-TR.

​Additionally, I see individuals through telehealth and in-person in order to identify SMART goals and client objectives for treatment. I also measure the level of client symptoms with scales such as the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL-5), Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), Modified Colorado Symptom Index (MCSI), and Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR).

​I work with clients who are uninsured, underinsured, or low-income. Some clients use Medicaid, Medicare, or military benefits while others have state contracted services (SCS), private insurance, or a Medicaid/Medicaid managed care plan through a care management organization (CMO) such as Amerigroup, CareSource, WellCare, or Cenpatico.

​I schedule therapy appointments and have co-led and created a psychoeducational group as well. Lastly, I have been certified in CPR, QPR, and ANSA/CANS.

Investing in the Future of Public Behavioral Health in Georgia

Gain the experience and skills to work in public behavioral health settings to provide mental health, substance abuse, or developmental disabilities services through internships developed in collaboration between the School of Social Work and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD).


To graduate a cohort of MSW students each year who are:

  • Well-trained in the behavioral health skills needed by the DBHDD
  • Experienced in working within the DBHDD system, including Community Service Boards (CSBs)
  • Committed to recovery and social justice for individuals with behavioral health needs
  • Committed to working for DBHDD and/or CSBs over the long term


Students whose concentration field placement is within a DBHDD facility/agency or CSB can apply for this program.


Students will need to apply and then be interviewed by representatives from the DBHDD, CSBs, and School of Social Work.

DBHDD will provide stipends to the students who are selected.
Selected students will commit to working for at least 12 months post-graduation at a DBHDD facility/agency or CSB.

Specialized Support for the Students in the Program

  • 1 credit per semester field seminar that explores topics of relevance to work in the DBHDD/CSB system (e.g. recovery focus, working with peer specialists).
  • Upon graduation, students will obtain employment within DBHDD or a CSB. DBHDD will provide help the graduate find potential job opportunities appropriate to a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW).

For more information, visit the Investing in the Future of Public Behavioral Health in Georgia internship information page or contact Kate A. Morrissey-Stahl, kstahl@uga.edu

Learn more about the program at https://youtu.be/ZnhQvRUBaUw.

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