Carolyn Trasko, Clinical Social Worker and Addictions Counselor, finds Practical Applications for Saybrook's New Integrative Mental health Specialization
After many years of searching for just the right program Carolyn Trasko found the Integrative Mental Health program at Saybrook and is a member of the inaugural class. Carolyn enthusiastically shared how the first term has impacted her, and how she interacts with clients.
Carolyn Trasko is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Addiction and Drug Counselor in the state of Connecticut. Carolyn has been in private practice for 12 years and recently accepted a job at a local hospital as a Psychiatric Liaison in the Psychology Department. Her responsibilities include evaluating people with suicidal ideation, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Carolyn recalls a recent patient interaction at the hospital where she was able to apply what she is learning in the IMH program. Carolyn explains that a woman presented to the Emergency Department with delusional tendencies, yet it seemed there was more to the story. She looked further into the woman’s medical history and discovered that the patient did not have a history of psychiatric issues, nor did she take any medications that might explain her behavior. Feeling something was amiss, she probed further and learned that the woman sustained a head injury 4 months previously. Carolyn was concerned that the head injury and her recent behavior might be connected and therefore brought her concerns to the attending physician. The attending physician listened to her concerns and agreed that further evaluation was needed and ordered further testing. Her recent enrollment at Saybrook, combined with classes and interaction with other students, gave her additional tools to recognize that something was amiss and then to have the confidence to follow her intuition.
One of Carolyn’s first courses in the IMH program is Nutrition and Mental Health, taught by nutritionist Dr. John Bagnulo and Teaching Fellow Stephanie Shelburne. Carolyn feels that this course expanded her nutrition knowledge and that she is able to directly apply her learning to her patients. She recently worked with an 80-year old woman, who was being evaluated for a fainting spell. With the Nutrition and Mental Health course fresh on her mind, Carolyn was curious about the clients’ daily nutritional intake, including hydration, and asked some basic questions during her initial assessment. The clients’ answers to her inquiry revealed nutritional inadequacies, but also that she was not drinking enough fluid to keep her hydrated throughout the day, which may have contributed to her fainting. Carolyn, along with the patient and her other healthcare provider, determined several small changes that the client and caregivers could make to her nutrition and hydration that will increase her quality of life and keep her safe. The woman’s mental status has improved slightly, and she is now developing a more collaborative relationship with her prescribing physician, who is using blood work to assess other metabolic and medical factors.
Dedication and compassion are some words that portray Carolyn. Yet when Carolyn talks about herself and her work she uses descriptions such as humbled and honored. Specifically, she feels humbled and honored to witness her client’s most vulnerable moments and to be a part of their healing.
In her leisure time Carolyn enjoys spending time with her husband of 26 years and her adult children. Each family member is supportive of her academic endeavors, and her children have professional and personal interests in integrative health. Maintaining a balanced life while in graduate school is challenging, and family support has been exceptional. Carolyn has also found support among her classmates, and through the use of technology such as texting and the internet, has found ways to stay connected across time zones. Carolyn feels at ‘home’ at Saybrook, meaning that she feels connected to the vision of the Integrative Mental Health program and her cohort.