Even though Sway Gutierez is new to NYFS, and will be serving a new school district, her work feels very familiar.
“I’ve always worked with youth,” she says. “Early intervention is where my heart is.” Sway started working as a nanny in her teens and worked for Head Start and Big Brothers/Big Sisters before becoming a licensed social worker.
At NYFS, Sway will be serving as a therapist in the St. Anthony-New Brighton School District which recently partnered with our School Based Mental Health program. She’s been spending her time getting to know staff and families before the school year starts.
“I love being in the schools – it is so powerful because not only do we work with the youth, we also have an impact on adults.” She adds that offering mental health services in schools helps destigmatize seeking and receiving support for everyone.
Sway respects how hard youth work once they understand the benefit of mental health support. “Therapy takes time and we may think that they’re not listening or paying attention but they are. I’m introducing new ideas and that isn’t always comfortable. But they listen and absorb and together we build a strong therapeutic alliance.”
While the work can be hard, “I get a lot of joy from this job,” she says. “When you can see youth unload and unburden and start to take a breath, you know that you’re beginning to make the connection and change is possible.”