Mary E. Best, LCSW
I am proud to be a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, practicing in a profession where I get to share healing resources and offer hope and encouragement to individuals facing life challenges. It is an honor to partner with and support the emotional health and well being of those seeking to reduce suffering, enjoy more health, love and connectedness within themselves, in significant relationships and in their communities.
Early growing up experiences are powerful teachers that have lasting influence–our physical, social, emotional and economic world. I began my social work training early on, having been raised in an alcoholic family in a small southern town where racism, fear and social injustice were my “classroom teachers.” From this experience, I decided as a young adult to follow the path of social justice and healing, beginning with my own healing and recovery work as an adult child of alcoholic parents. I received my base in Psychology and my Masters in Social Welfare at UCLA. I became increasingly aware of the importance of “community,” as well as family and friends, to support our economic, social, mental and emotional health. Touched by a close cousin who was developmentally delayed, I went into the field of developmental disabilities, coordinating client services at a California Regional Center. There, I had the unique opportunity to create and facilitate a Residential Parent Support Group for parents making the painful decision to place their children in residential care, and an Inclusion Parent Education and Advocacy Support Group for parents desiring to have their children included in regular classrooms rather than being segregated from the general student population.
In the larger world, I became aware of the human impact of our national policies on Central American countries during civil wars there in the 70’s and 80’s. I volunteered with a Central American Refugee Center in Los Angeles, participated in human rights delegations to El Salvador and got a firsthand look at social and economic inequities from a third world perspective.
My husband and I moved to the East Coast to be near our families, becoming therapeutic foster parents, an experience that led me to serve foster care teens and young adults at a Department of Social Services for 12 years. My focus was on the mental and emotional health of youth who had been damaged by neglect, abuse and abandonment, as well as years in the “system” and was, again, a training ground for my transition to become a therapist at a local mental health clinic serving low income and homeless women and their families. I was encouraged to be “creative” and began therapeutic arts projects with children, children’s art that came to adorn the walls of the Clinic. At the Clinic, I also had an opportunity to supervise graduate students and Clinic staff, growing myself and future social workers in the process. A life-changing experience was attending an Intergenerational Healing Workshop with Healer Ruth King. From this experience, I found my true center as a therapist, creating a Healing Rage therapy and support group for women at the Clinic. (See Dr. King’s excellent materials in Resources). I began my private practice while on the East Coast and after relocating back to California and obtaining my California LCSW license, I have resumed private practice doing what I love most–healing, lifting and celebrating the potential for love and compassion in us all.
We have this moment, to be all we can be, to give ourselves and others the gift of love and compassion. So I am grateful to have yet another opportunity to serve the good of the community here in San Diego, and look forward to working with those seeking more health, love and connectedness in their life.