The Caring Force Blog May 2023 Workforce Hero: Kathleen Mooney

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our May TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight honoree is Kathleen Mooney, a program manager at High Point Treatment Center’s Section 35 Program in Plymouth. She is a hands-on manager, carrying a caseload or assisting with the treatment of some of the more complex clients that come through her doors. Kathleen has the ability to meet each clients where they are at, while encouraging and inspiring better choices.  She is well-liked and respected by clients, peers, and staff alike.

1. Tell us about your background.  How did you decide to pursue a career in human services?

I took a psychology course in High School and was immediately intrigued with abnormal psychology. I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at UMass Amherst and during school breaks I worked per diem through Vinfen Corporation. My first shift was working in a group home with adults diagnosed with major mental illness, mostly schizophrenia – all the clients had been released from Taunton State Hospital. The minute I stepped foot into the program I knew this was going to be my passion. I eventually earned my Masters of Social Work at Boston College and worked for DMH for some time before transferring to High Point.

2. What does a typical day look like for you at your organization?

I am currently the Clinical Director for High Point’s Section 35 program in Plymouth. I manage the clinical staff and 32 civilly committed clients remanded to substance abuse treatment. I arrive at work around 9:15 M-F, attend a manager-meeting in the morning, we discuss campus-wide concerns or issues with staff or clients. Afterwards, we have a multidisciplinary treatment team meeting on the unit and we review all 32 clients, their treatment plan and any interventions that may be needed to help them through treatment. Afterwards, I either meet with clients myself, have supervision with staff or manage crises. Every day at 3pm, weather permitting, I take the clients outside to our recreational area. I encourage them to play volleyball with me, and “play” and/or have fun while being clean and sober. It’s an activity in which they can exercise and build rapport with one another, including myself. (I often joke that I can use this as a diagnostic tool as well) Late afternoons to evening my time is allotted for documentation. I learned quickly never to have a ‘planned day’ with the expectation that the day would go as planned.

3. What is your favorite professional memory?

I have many from each agency and I don’t believe I could narrow it down to one special memory. I did receive the manager of the year award; it was a great professional highlight. Almost all of the others are related to client interactions, like breaking up a fight and telling one of the clients to go to their room, using my mom’s voice and it worked! Thinking afterwards, “Thank God that worked.”  Another time I was working as a crisis evaluator, or a “psychiatric travel agent” (as I called it), and was called to evaluate a client who thought she was a talk show host. She had an imaginary microphone and her family following close behind, which she told me was her “fans” and the “audience.” The evaluation was memorable to say the least.

4. This question is from our April TCF Workforce Hero Spotlight, Naomi Rivera: My question for the next person would be, what makes it worth it to you to work in human services?

Seeing even the slightest change in clients towards progress. I call them small miracles – you have to find one every day to keep going. The field we work in and the people we try to help can be tragic. It is very easy to lose hope in people, the system, etc. Never lose that hope. It is something we give to others. It keeps them alive.

5. Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight?

How do you manage working in a field that can be so tragic at times?

Thank you so much to Kathleen and all of our wonderful human services workers who bring joy and passion to work every day! We are so thankful for your efforts and for making the Commonwealth a better place.

Back to All Blog Posts