I have been a social worker for over ten years. I am an active-duty Navy spouse and Mom and understand the stress involved with living a military life, whether it's deployments or long hours or simply being on-call 24/7. I have had the opportunity to volunteer with spouses that struggle with the military life, and normalizing some of the problems that arise is very fulfilling.
I want to let you know about some of the work that I've done and loved over the last twelve years.
I originally started working with high risk children in NC, but this position ended after 10 months as I left the position due to a personal choice to leave the state.
Working with high-risk children was a difficult position. The children that I saw were all seen for state mandated therapy in my office and brought by either parents or agency sponsors. I did a lot of art based therapy with these children as I did not get much if any access to the parents for parental guidance. I helped the children work on self-esteem and self reliance in addition to doing regular abuse screenings. Moving forward to 2012-2015....the past three years have been at my private practice. I have worked more with families than children individually. I have worked on developing and maintaining good parenting skills and maintaining good boundaries and limits. Some families really appreciated the "Magic 123"approach. Where others preferred individual plans that worked for their individual families (whether it be a family with a child on the spectrum that required time lines and consistency or twins with ADHD that used behavior modification charts with motivating factors dictating the modifications and of course consistency).
From 2015-2017 I was blessed to have obtained a job as the Regional Director of a community center in Jacksonville, NC. I was able to use my skills and experience to supervise young and new Social Workers and LPC's. I was able to network with the local community and grow the small business into a budding program with immense potential. When my family and I left the NC area I was proud to have been a part of this growing community center and knew that I was leaving the families, children, and the community in a healthier place than when I started.
I did work for a short period in and inpatient adult psychiatric unit and after only a short time I knew that this was not my calling. After my inpatient high-risk psychiatric experience I went back to my roots which I found while attending Baylor University and working on my MSW. While I was in school was when grief and bereavement became my clinical and academic focus. I have always had a passion for those experiencing loss. My internships were with a local hospice in Mexia, TX and another specialty clinic in Waco, TX that worked exclusively with Alzheimer's patients. I did my master's thesis on Alzheimer's and sensory therapy.
Alzheimer's disease is a very difficult disease to help people through because the caregiver and the patient need two totally different things. The caregiver is dealing with premature loss and anticipatory grief while the patient is dealing with reminiscent therapy and often sensory therapy.
I moved to Baltimore Maryland and started my work at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center @ Johns Hopkins Hospital and loved every minute I was there in oncology. My specialties were gastro-intestinal cancers and melanoma. I sat weekly on the tumor boards for the weekly reviewed cases and had the privilege of working with the families that were chosen for treatment. I met them on their first day and stayed with these families until death or discharge of treatment. I had the honor to present more than on grand rounds (one on Ethics and the other one "Difficult Families"). Being able to have a part in any of my families journeys was a privilege. These families allowed me to guide them on one of the most personal losses in life the death of a loved one. Grief and bereavement have always been close to me and my practice and I encourage any survivors to thrive not simply survive and am willing to work on that concept with clients.
During my private practice work I rely heavily on solution focused approaches and my therapy is very narrative in nature and requires work from not only me, but mostly the client. I do use cognitive behavioral techniques when appropriate, but I am not afraid of delving into any theory or technique that I believe will assist the client.
I have surprisingly enjoyed working with couples. Couples (in my experience) tend to have a different kind of motivation for change. They are either more willing to work or they come in already being finished (in which case they don't stay long). I believe in teaching my couples not only how to hear but to listen. Empathy and validation are constant focuses in regards to my couples.
As far as my individual work with those experiencing anxiety or depression the idea is to focus more on what is causing the problems/anxieties than it is to focus on the physical aspects of the depression and anxiety. I as the therapist know and can see that you are depressed or anxious, and the physical manifestations that these diagnoses are creating, but my job is to isolate the "why?" and help to work you through the trigger. I do not hesitate to recommend seeing an MD when I recognize that talk-therapy is not where a client needs to start.
I love what I do and my job is something that look forward to every day. I would be happy and it would be a privilege to help and assist in any way possible.
Additional areas of focus: LGBT, Family conflicts, Trauma and abuse, Intimacy-related issues, Eating disorders, Sleeping disorders, Anger management, Self esteem, Career difficulties, Bipolar disorder, Depression
MD LCSW-C 14010
Sharon has been a wonderful sounding board, excellent strategist, and an all around good force in my life over the past 8 months. She has helped me to compartmentalize and move beyond myself (ie, the biggest road block I have!) and laid things out in such a common sense way that it has helped me to take these techniques into my daily life. Her knowledge of the unique stressors associated with the military has also been tremendously helpful.
Written on Dec 10, 2021 after therapy with Sharon for 9 months on issues concerning relationship issues, grief, coping with life changes, and coaching
Sharon, not to sound too dramatic, has changed the trajectory of my life by helping me face a lot of things I have been avoiding and helping me gain perspective. I have never done any type of therapy before, and I feel so lucky to have matched with Sharon. She is the easiest person to talk to and open up to, genuinely cares, and always takes time to give thoughtful and insightful responses.
Sharon is an amazing therapist and I could not recommend her more highly.
Written on Oct 27, 2021 after therapy with Sharon for 8 months on issues concerning stress, anxiety, relationship issues, family conflicts, self esteem, coping with life changes, and adhd
Sharon is very approachable, kind and understanding. She is very empathetic, encouraging and offers very reassuring advice. I believe she is very professional, whilst also showing her humanity. Talking to Sharon is like talking to a friend. Thank you for your help, support and friendship, Sharon.
Written on Sep 29, 2021 after therapy with Sharon for 2 weeks on issues concerning depression, stress, anxiety, relationship issues, family conflicts, trauma and abuse, self esteem, bipolar disorder, and compassion fatigue
Sharon is so kind and thoughtful and really takes the time go get to know you.
Written on Jun 15, 2021 after therapy with Sharon for 7 months on issues concerning stress, anxiety, and coping with life changes
sharon is a very helpful counselor and i can see her effort in trying to help me
Written on Jun 05, 2021 after therapy with Sharon for 3 weeks on issues concerning depression, stress, anxiety, relationship issues, and grief
Sharon Szalejko is the best therapist I have ever had. She made me believe in therapy again. Sharon is professional, timely, helpful and empowering. She is an amazing professional that I recommend to all of the people in my life.
Written on Apr 07, 2021 after therapy with Sharon for 9 months on issues concerning depression, stress, anxiety, relationship issues, family conflicts, trauma and abuse, grief, intimacy-related issues, self esteem, anger management, career difficulties, and coaching