Schmidt pioneers mental health cooperative as model for fiscally responsible counseling

Kevin Schmidt, MSSW ‘06
Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Vice President, Center Point Counseling Services Cooperative

A former employee of Willy Street Co-op, Kevin Schmidt is a founding member of Center Point Counseling Services Cooperative, the nation’s first worker-owned mental health cooperative. The cooperative model cut management overhead for services, allowing members to provide counseling at a lower cost to the client. Schmidt says about 60 percent of his clients are underinsured or uninsured. In addition to working full-time as a mental health counselor, Schmidt consults businesses on how to create nurturing and responsive environments, and speaks publicly on current mental health issues and community trends.


This is truly a profession for those who want to serve others with integrity and authenticity as a core aspect of their personal mission.

How would you describe the services that your agency provides?

We provide a range of mental health, wellness, and educational services, including individual psychotherapy, family and couples counseling, high-conflict divorce mediation, psychiatry (including child psychiatry), play therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy to help clients change self-harming behaviors. Our Ayuervedic medicine provider does mindfulness and energy work. We also provide emergency mental health services including 24-7 triage and assessment.


A day in the life of my position includes seeing about five to eight clients for mental health counseling, and maintaining documents for each client. I consult with other therapists and doctors about shared clients. As vice president of the cooperative, I meet with our president several times a week to keep leadership informed, responsive and on-track. I also return calls to others interested in cooperatives, and work with other existing cooperatives, locally and nationally, on a number of programs.


Do you have any advice for current students in the School of Social Work to prepare themselves for their future careers?

In my experience, many jobs in social work are not well-paid and can be high stress, but the work is very meaningful, and desperately needed by many people. This is truly a profession for those who want to serve others with integrity and authenticity as a core aspect of their personal mission. 

During graduate school, I thought mental health was a “sell out” branch of social work, and that I should become a professional activist. I should have specialized in mental health at the time, but I didn’t.  For a few years I was stuck, and I turned to the National Association of Social Workers. NASW lobbying was key for allowing me to pursue my license. Compared to those seeking other mental health and counseling licenses, we have it good with the NASW. I encourage aspiring social workers to join now and stay forever.


How has your School of Social Work education prepared you for both your past jobs and your current job?

Formal education is essential in this field. I run across poorly prepared, but very well-meaning, providers from time to time. Formal education provides the central pillars, the scaffolding, for practices like mine with client systems. It’s very powerful for a team of experienced LCSWs to work together and to apply social work theory together in the field. It is a process that I am honored to contribute to.

Last edited by karnaky on Tuesday, February 03, 2015 | Printer Friendly Version