November 24, 2023

Chosen Fam Highlight: Liz Gonzales (she/ella), LCSW

Why did you decide to work towards your LCSW? How does it connect to your personal mission and goals?

My journey towards licensure began with great uncertainty. Working in school-based mental health for a non-profit made licensure feel like a very distant milestone. In all transparency, there was an immense imposter syndrome that sat at the forefront of my work. As time progressed and as I actively worked on building my internal strengths, I saw my growth not only as a social worker, but as a confident woman. I experienced the greatest challenges as a community-based social worker in the community where I actually grew up in. It felt like a great honor, as well as a calling. While actually acquiring my LCSW felt like a daunting and terrifying responsibility, I came to realize that achieving licensure would only further support the work I was committed to doing and would allow me to be of continued service to my community. Countless people in the field constantly reminded me of the opportunities that would open up for me as a bilingual, bicultural licensed Latina dedicated to community work.

What were some of the most challenging aspects of earning your LCSW? What helped you navigate them?

I unashamedly admit to being a perfectionist with self-sabotaging behaviors and an abundance of anxiety. I thought about leaving the social work field countless times because of obstacles that are persistent and insidious in the systems we work in. The pressure for high productivity, timeliness, and exposure to a myriad of traumas exacerbated self-doubt and lack of trust in the field. I put off licensure for a long time and sacrificed almost two years worth of eligible hours towards licensure because of the trauma sustained at a job that was simply not a good fit—a truth I was unable to understand at the time. However, when I least expected it, I was blessed with having new supervisors who supported me from the beginning of our working relationship. At that point in my journey, it became apparent that I needed to heal my social work wounds. I received the mentoring and guidance that made a huge impact in my life. As someone who was used to being hyper independent and anxious as a student and/or professional, receiving guidance I trusted (and listened to) pushed me along my slow, yet appropriately paced, journey towards inevitable licensure. As simple as it may sound, getting AND allowing myself to receive validation, affirmations, and praise nursed my motivation and confidence to move forward with my work life.  

Liz Gonzales sits on a swing outside with the restaurant sign, "Shugaa" in the background. Liz is wearing a bright red jumper and is a white passing Latina with brown curly hair dark lipstick, hoops and a light tan fedorah.

What advice do you have for others wanting to earn their LCSW?

You will make mistakes and you will be someone’s worst therapist/social worker: This was advice given by a professor while in grad school. While it may seem negative and stemming from a scarcity mindset, it was often grounding for me and helped me move forward with my LCSW journey. It served as a reminder that I was human. It reminded me to practice self-forgiveness, discernment, and patience even when I felt like a subpar social worker unworthy of a license. For me, it is important to seek out our people resources when feeling like there is too much to hold as an unlicensed social worker. Find who you feel safe with and become thought partners. My community of colleagues and close loved ones kept me afloat on this journey. Ask for advice, borrow that book, share that tutoring site account log-in, etc. As soon as I opened myself up to the supervisors who believed in me and sought honest support from my “accountability partners,” the journey became much more easeful and rewarding. We exist and grow in community and I am not too sure where I would be in my LCSW journey without support from others. I accepted my growing edges and forgave myself for the moments I felt disappointed in myself for delaying the process. Sharing the news of passing the LCSW exam with those who loved on me and helped me along the way only elevated my joy about finally becoming licensed. Also, yes the tutoring sites are beyond worth it!

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