Meet Our Alumni
Why choose UNH? What opportunities does UNH and the social work department have to offer? What careers can a social work graduate look forward to? Watch these videos and hear from our alumni on their experiences as a UNH SW student.
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David W. Lynde, MSW, LICSW Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center
When I transferred into the social work program at UNH as an undergraduate in 1979, I was not sure what social work really meant, but I do remember following an inner urge to want to help people. At that point, I could clearly remember many different times in my own personal life when I would have benefited from some type of professional help and I thought about how I would like to be helpful to other people. I had no idea where a social work education would take me, but the urge to be helpful was attraction enough to pursuing social work. My social work education at UNH, combined with the experience of serving in the New Hampshire House of Representatives simultaneously provided me with an opportunity to begin to understand social work as a helping profession on the personal, the family, the community and the state levels. This began a journey of appreciation for the power of state budgets, bureaucracies and legislation. One enduring memory of that time involves several conversations with Professor Martha Byam asking me if I was thinking about pursuing a social work career in community organizing. I repeated remained steadfast in my desire to be a clinician and not a community organizer, at least in my own mind.
After being graduated from UNH in 1982, I had the opportunity to work in several different social work jobs most of them related to mental health services. Throughout those different positions, I continued to learn more about working directly with individuals and families, as well as with, or sometimes against, human service agencies regarding providing services to help clients. I was also fortunate to be both a clinical supervisor and an administrator. All of these experiences continued to provide more grist for the mill regarding the power of agency budgets, agency leadership, and agency policies as related to helping people.
After completing my MSW program at Boston University, I have had the privilege of teaching social work courses at Boston University and the University of New Hampshire, as well as being a longstanding member of the UNH Social Work Advisory Council. I have also supervised BASW and MSW student interns from UNH and Boston University in several different capacities.
I currently work as the Co-Director of the Evidence Based Practices Center at the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center. In this position, I have the incredible opportunity to work with some of the most distinguished and talented mental health services researchers in the country. The mission of the Evidence Based Practices Center is to provide consultation, technical assistance and training for mental health agencies, as well as county and state mental health administrations to facilitate the implementation of evidence based mental health treatment services.
At the EBP Center, I have the challenging and constantly stimulating task of being an advocate for change in how mental health services are both conceived and provided in our country. As a clinician, I often thought about working as hard as possible to be as helpful as possible to the clients and families that I was honored to work with. As a supervisor, I often focused on working with the numerous talented and highly dedicated clinicians to support them in their determination to help clients as much as they possibly could. And, as an administrator, I believe that I worked to develop staff, programs and resources that were being helpful to clients and their families.
My current position affords me the opportunity to look at my own struggles and professional errors that I have made, and use that experience to be more effective in understanding the challenges of organizational and systems change.
I bring all of those experiences with me to work everyday, the experience of attending different training programs, where I was provided with ideas about how to be helpful. The frustrations of not being able to effectively use what I learned when agency policies or procedures were obstacles to doing what seemed to be the right thing at the time. The many lessons learned about the power of the status quo in preventing organizations from incorporating significant change or even just thinking about things differently.
In my work, while attempting to be a stimulus for change, I try to focus on my own professional resistance to changes. I look back, with a great deal of humiliation on my own individual crusade against the New Hampshire Division of Mental Health’s efforts to describe and focus on providing mental health services based on demonstrated research effectiveness. Instead of pausing long enough to think differently, I chose to present numerous arguments on why we should just keep doing what we were already doing. After all, why would we have been providing those services if they were not effective in the first place?
My position provides me the chance to continually grow my appreciation for the spirit of social workers across the country.
As a consultant and trainer, I have the chance to work with numerous social work professionals across the country, from employment specialists to case managers, from clinical supervisors to people who provide peer supports, from directors of small agencies to administrators of state and country mental health systems. I have the rare fortune to watch and appreciate a story that is rarely told or documented. The story of the dedication of social workers in mental health who are committed to helping people and families with mental illness in the most effective way possible.
One of the most intriguing challenges in jousting with the windmills of the status quo and promoting the implementation of effective services is to keep focused on why change we need to change. It is not the idea of improving service just to keep up with research, it is not the idea of implementing mental health practices just to achieve high fidelity with the model, and it is not the idea of just doing what is trendy. It is the concept of being helpful, as helpful as is possible while working with people with mental illness to help them achieve their own meaningful individual goals for their life. It is the value and the philosophy, that we, as social workers are committed to helping people and understanding that effective helping requires dedication, commitment, hard work and scientific knowledge.
Spending time conversing with the people, that we sometimes call clients, who participate in mental health services is one of the sincere pleasures in my position. I have the chance to listen to people with mental illness describe how their getting a real job in the community has changed the way they see themselves, or helped them earn a self supporting income through employment. I have the blessing of listening to people describe how they were able to stop using substances while building a new life in the community. I sit with people as they describe how their life changed when they were presented with information and skills related to managing the symptoms of a mental illness.
I am blessed with a position that requires me to see the hope and the reality of recovery for people with mental illness everyday and to keep a vibrant vision of recovery with me in our work at the EBP center. Thanks in a large part to my undergraduate education at UNH, I have the opportunity to work with incredible people, from people with mental illness, to direct service providers, to administrators as we all seek to help people in the most effective way possible.