Discovering Social Work

cait_zinserCait Zinser always knew about Middlesex Community College having grown up in nearby Haddam, Conn. When she was in high school, she admits academics were not a priority. She had a hard time with studying and didn’t really look into pursuing a college education. After high school, while her friends went off to college, Cait realized she needed to think about what she was going to do with her life.

That’s when she turned to Middlesex and signed up for some basic classes. This convenience gave her the opportunity to find out more about herself, especially with self-directing her course schedule. And she particularly loved the smaller class sizes. She enrolled in a psychology class early on and discovered that she enjoyed learning about people and their environment. This then led her to focus on human services courses and discover the lasting inspiration of Judith Felton, professor emerita.

Professor Felton assigned the students in her class to videotape themselves practicing active and reflective listening. After viewing Cait’s recording, Professor Felton told her, “You should be a social worker.” Even with this encouragement, Cait was still unsure.

So after graduating from Middlesex in 2003, Cait was still searching for her career focus and transferred to the University of Connecticut. She enrolled in the BGS program (bachelor of general studies with a focus in human services) and felt at home commuting to UConn’s West Hartford campus, which is smaller than the Storrs campus and more like the familiar Middlesex campus in Middletown.

After completing her degree at UConn, Cait worked for four years at Wesleyan University in the Office of International Studies and in the chemistry department. During this time, she enrolled in STEP classes at UConn, which is a professional development program for social workers. It was then she realized that she really wanted to help people and found her calling to be a social worker after all.

Cait describes social work as a versatile field, with opportunities to work with different environments and diverse populations. Her first internship brought her to a family services agency, working with children and parents. At her next internship with the Connecticut VA hospital in West Haven, she said she was humbled by working with adult patients suffering from trauma. Learning about the many forms of mental illness and the complex, effective interventions for mental health helped her to focus on providing psychotherapy.

She worked as a dialysis social worker at the VA for several years, but as a trained psychotherapist, Cait transitioned into private practice in 2016. Her company, Wellness Within, LLC, is based in Middlesex County. She is available for consultation, specializing in trauma work, anxiety and depression, as well as ADHD and bipolar conditions. Her approach with clients is from a strengths perspective, as she believes people are inherently resilient and already have a variety of tools in their personal toolbox.

Today, Cait fondly recalls the comfortable setting while studying at Middlesex and is grateful to the supportive nature of her former professors. Read more about Cait here.