I had a wonderful time sitting down with Evan Lawrence, FMHC alumnus. He works for a not-for-profit organization, EAC Network: Empower, Assist, Care. This isn’t his first encounter with the organization. He did the second half of his externship with EAC’s Brooklyn & Staten Island Forensic Link, providing alternative-to-incarceration court monitoring and re-entry services for defendants with serious mental health issues. He now works fulltime for EAC’s intensive case management program, assisting the SMI (seriously mental ill) male population leaving the prison system with their re-entry to society. He finds his daily work valuable and interesting, always learning, personally and professionally.
Evan is thankful for John Jay and the counseling program that effectively prepared him for the working world. The classes he took encompassing counseling skills and clinical interviewing continue to be very beneficial in his various interactions. He utilizes the diagnostics of psychopathology often to help view his clients. The very first lesson he learned in the field concerned the challenges of applying the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to real-life. The DSM provides a list of easily interpreted symptoms and behaviors, but it is much more difficult to examine a person and determine if they actually have a certain disorder. Context is key.
When I asked if he would have done anything differently at John Jay, he wishes he had been more involved with research, but is proud of his volunteer work. In addition to working with Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center to fulfill the first half of his externship, he interned with the Marshal services and U.S. Probation in New York’s Southern District. He advocates for doing anything in the field in order to gather as much experience as possible, even if time is limited to only one day a week. Evan advises the more experience you gain not only adds to a resume, but also helps hone the skills needed to work in this field. New York City has many angles to explore, so work as broadly as possible and do as much as you can. Take advantage of everything John Jay offers; attend events and always network with classmates and faculty.
To take care of others, Evan recognizes the need to take care of ourselves. He recommends exercise, beneficial physiologically and mentally for stress relief, and a strong, social support group. Evan is excited about the direction our criminal justice system is headed, incorporating the advances of psychology and alternative means of treatment, instead of purely, punitive measures.