Allan S. Mohl is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked in private practice since 1966 and has had diversified agency experience since 1960. He became involved in his profession after gaining experience as a social work specialist in the United States Army. He started out in the field employed at Brooklyn After Care Clinic, treating patients who were released from The Central Islip State Hospital (which is now closed). He then worked for two years as a case worker at The Children’s Village, a residential treatment school. Subsequently, he was a case worker at Jewish Family Services from October 1963 to September 1967. From 1984 to 2002, he served on the Special Education Committee of the New York City Board of Education. An important highlight – and turning point – in his career occurred from 1980 to 1984, when he was able to develop and obtain funding for a family unit in a community-based agency. As well, during his time as a volunteer at White Plains Hospital Center, Dr. Mohl was responsible for the development of a humor cart program.
As a school social worker, Dr. Mohl counseled students of New York City Schools. His philosophy is that every day is a gift. “As long as you are alive, enjoy the moment,” he advises. Dr. Mohl has published four books of poetry, including his most recent book, entitled “Autumn Leaves at Twilight.” His greatest career achievement was receiving a certificate for his numerous years of dedication to helping students at New York City Public School 206 and JHS 190.
Dr. Mohl received a Ph.D. in health and human services in 1991 from Columbia Pacific University. He earned a master of social services in 1960, a master of arts in sociology in 1956 and a bachelor of arts in sociology in 1954 from New York University.
Conversation with Allan S. Mohl
Worldwide Publishing: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Allan S. Mohl: Seeing people benefit from psychotherapy. Working with people who are able to respond, modify their behavior and improve functioning.
What topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert on?
I am an expert on issues relating to couples and family therapy. Each person has their own unique approach, but we have a body of knowledge that we acquire through school and experience.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
When I worked in the school system, it was seeing certain kids who were acting out and misbehaving in class turn it around. Counseling in itself is very rewarding.
How do you remain current in your profession?
I attend professional conferences; I read journals and field-related books.
What strategies do you apply when you have clients experiencing abuse?
If you are working with abusive behavior such as parent-child abuse, the short-term objective is to stop the mistreatment. The long-term strategy is to develop a relationship between the parties involved that is more in sync, where people can get along.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
There is a great deal of turf conflict between psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists. Until the last couple of years, psychiatrists were opposed to social workers doing psychotherapy, which I think is ridiculous. Currently, we do most of the psychotherapy in the mental health profession – 50 percent of the therapists are actually social workers.
I think the issue of respect still remains because social workers get the least amount of remuneration. Psychiatrists get 100 percent, psychologists get 75 percent and we get 25 percent. Seventy percent of social workers are women. Part of the problem is that the pay scale is affected because of this predominance of women in social work. It would benefit the field if more men chose to pursue social work as a career choice.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
The challenge is always getting the system to recognize the necessity and importance of mental health in society. Insurance companies typically allow six visits for a patient – that’s not enough to treat someone with chronic depression, for instance. It restricts the number of times you can see a patient. I happen to be in managed healthcare because I have to make a living. But I wish it was gone; it was nonexistent when I started.
What advice can you offer fellow members who work in your industry?
You can’t play God. Maintain a certain amount of objectivity. You can’t treat all patients effectively. The problem is that there has been an emphasis on psychopharmacology, yet therapy is an integral part of mental health. The long-term, on the couch, free association approach may not be that effective unless you deal with neurotic, highly articulate patients. More research must be done.