Justin Linksz is a Licensed Certified Social Worker, Clinical (LCSW-C) practicing in Annapolis, Maryland. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Frostburg State University majoring in psychology and sociology with a minor in early childhood education. After finishing his Bachelors, Mr. Linksz began working in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with the severe and persistent mentally ill. His clientele included children and adolescence along with adults suffering from co-occurring disorders. After several years of working with this population he moved into working with the homeless and low income mentally ill and substance abusers of inner city Washington D.C. Justin Linksz was able to build his experience and proficiency in working with a variety of mental health issues.
In 2007 Justin Linksz returned to school and in 2010 completed his Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Mr. Linksz continues working in the field of mental health by working with treatment foster care in rural Maryland. Here he was able to connect with children and adolescence and be an advocate for them while still working with them and their mental health. After several years of working in foster care Justin Linksz returned to working with adults suffering from mental health and substance abuse. He began working with recently incarcerated males in an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility. Mr. Linksz found this to be a natural fit. He moved on from working inpatient substance abuse recovery to working in and running an inner-city substance abuse recovery clinic.
In 2014 Mr. Linksz opened his own practice and began working as a clinician in the Annapolis area. His specialties include trauma and addictions and has become a level 1 certified trauma therapist. Justin Linksz is continuing his training and will become a certified Somatic Experience therapist in the fall of 2018.
How did you get started in this field? What inspired you to start this practice?
In 2014 I finished my supervision and was able to sit for my board exams. I passed my LCSW-C exam on the first try and knew I wanted to open my own practice. I knew I wanted to be a therapist ever since I was 10. I was in the car with my mother and I saw a man walking down the sidewalk talking to himself. I asked my mother what was wrong with this man, and why he was talking to himself and my mother responded with “we don’t worry about these people”. From that point forward, I knew I wanted to know what was wrong with people and I wanted to “fix them”. I also always had this part of me that wanted to help others. Therefore, I became a clinical social worker.
How do you retain patients?
I feel that my genuineness and compassion while working with my patients is what allows me to retain my clientele. If my patients feel I am real, and that I am truly here to help them, then they are willing to come back to see me. So many times, I hear from people that they never felt their therapist was truly there from them. I believe I am. I really do want to help them. I also learn as much from my patients as they learn from me I feel.
How long did it take for you to become successful in your practice?
It took me close to a year to feel like I was successful. I made mistakes, said the wrong things, and presented myself in ways that caused patients to not return to therapy with me. But with each patient I learn something new. What to do and what not to do.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Absolutely. Here I was, a new clinician starting my own practice. I did not have a supervisor to look over me. I did not have coworkers to turn to when I had questions or issues. I was all on my own. And I had never worked by myself as a clinician before.
I took each day on as a new day. The patients who did not return, I examined why they didn’t. Did I provide the right care? Was I not clinical enough? I talked with colleagues in the field to explore how I was doing. And slowly my confidence built up. Patients continued to show up for their sessions, and the feedback I received from them was positive.
How did you get your first patient?
I put an ad on social media to try and start building my practice. I also used word of mouth to share with the community that I was working as a clinician. While this worked I learned it was not enough, so I hired a marketing firm and was able to build up an online presence to help bring in local patients to see.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I used a marketing agency that built my website. They were able to create key terms and phrases that would help direct them to my web space. Because I specialized in trauma and addictions I was able to corner some of the market. I also provided discounts through Groupon and Facebook which provided new clientele for my practice.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I had some family issues going on as well as health issues which forced me to take a step back from practice for a short time. It was difficult to make the choice, but in the end, I knew I had to take care of myself before I could take care of others. I think of the oxygen mask theory here. When the flight attendant is reviewing the safety procedures on the plane before takeoff, they will tell you to place the oxygen mask on you first before helping the person in the seat next to you. This is because you cannot help anyone else if you are not able to help yourself. So I slowed my practice down and focused on my own health and wellbeing before returning to helping others.
What do you think it is that makes you successful while working with your patients?
I believe its my calm and inviting nature. I have been told over the years that I have a special gift of being able to calm people down. When I walk into a room a sense of calm and peace enters with me. I also have been told I have a very soothing voice. I think these things are what help me be successful when working with patients.
What has been your most satisfying moment in practice?
I don’t know if I have just one moment honestly. I think when I have former patients call me after completing their treatment with me and share how they have been doing. I had one patient call me on the 1-year anniversary of their clean date. They called to tell me that if it was not for me they would not be where they were today. I tell them that I was just their guide and that they did all the hard work. Its those moments that I think are the most satisfying and the ones I hold onto.
What does the future hold for your practice? What are you most excited about?
I am learning new skills and techniques to help me in the future. I am currently in a 3 year program to become a certified Somatic Experience therapist. I also am looking to begin training in neuro-bio feedback therapy. These 2 areas of therapy are on the leading edge for trauma and addictions treatment. I am very excited to move into these areas of treatment.
What clinical books have inspired you?
There are several books that I have read recently that I feel have inspired me. The first one is by Bessel van der Kolk. The Body Keeps the Score. This goes into the neurology and brain function of how trauma affects a person. The second book is called The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz. This book looks at trauma in children and how they were affected and the treatments that worked for them. The third book which inspired me is called If You See Buddha on the Road, Kill Him. This short book talks about gurus and how we should not look at anyone with more than what we truly see of them. It grounds you in your thoughts and allows us to not put any one person up on a pedestal.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your practice?
I have bought several games for my practice that helps children learn and understand their feelings and emotions. I have received great feedback from families stating this has helped them connect more with their children.
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