Touro Social Work Alum on a Career Filled With “Daily Rewards”

Personal Challenge Caused Her to Understand Suffering and Devote Herself to Helping Others

May 29, 2018

A Q&A with Miriam Klein.

Where are you currently employed? I work as a therapist at the Jewish Board in Crown Heights. I help people who struggle with a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Why did you choose to become a social worker? I dealt with a medical challenge in my personal life that caused me a lot of pain, both physical and emotional. Fortunately, I had a strong support system and many people to help me through this difficult time. After I was cured, I realized I wanted to give back the care that I received during my ordeal. I wanted to help other people through their own struggles, since my experience helped me truly understand suffering.

What was your favorite class or professor at Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) and why? Steven Krantz is definitely one of my favorite professors at Touro. He has a strong passion for the field, and his unique way of teaching how to connect in a meaningful way with a client has inspired me in my work. Dr. Krantz taught us simple, yet powerful techniques and phrases such as “compassionate curiosity” which means the act of listening to a client in a way that shows you are truly interested in what they are expressing. Dr. Krantz taught me the value of building a genuine rapport with a client and how that alone can be the catalyst for change. He taught by example through the stories he shared about his personal experiences with his own clients. 

What is the most surprising way your Touro GSSW experience prepared you for your current career? Many of the professors at Touro placed a strong emphasis on self-care when working in the field. I didn’t understand its importance at the time, but now I realize that if you don’t engage in regular self-care, you will not be able to care for your clients.

In my first “field” class, the professor would practice meditation in the beginning of the class to help us understand an element of self-care. The professor also encouraged us to keep a self-care diary where we were instructed to write down one act of self-care that we engaged in daily.  I practice self-care by being in tune to what my mind and body needs on any given day. If I feel tired, I make sure to go to sleep early. If I feel overwhelmed by a particular case, I will reach out to my supervisor in order to discuss it. I have learned by working in this field that as social workers, we need to be in touch with and take care of ourselves so that we can continue to give to others.

Describe the most rewarding experience of your career thus far. It is difficult to choose just one experience. The nature of working in this field is that I am rewarded daily. The social work profession is a gift--it allows you to give of yourself to another human being every day--for me that is the greatest reward.

What advice do you have for someone planning to attend Touro GSSW and or pursue a career in social work? Often when people begin to work toward a goal, they forget to enjoy the journey. I would encourage anyone who is beginning a social work master’s program to enjoy the journey as I am confident that it will help you grow not only as a social work professional, but it will strengthen you as a person as well.