This month, the Kaiser Permanente Mental Health Training Program (MHTP) is pleased to spotlight Brian Wolfe, LMFT, (he/him) a clinical supervisor in adult psychiatry and the intensive outpatient program (IOP) for Post-Masters fellows at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. Brian was nominated to be featured in the MHTP newsletter by training director, Kaye Anderson, LCSW, due to his outstanding contributions to the training program.
Although Brian has worked in the mental health field for 24 years and has been with Kaiser Permanente for eight years, therapy is his second career. Prior to joining the mental health field, Brian received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts. In 1987 he began working at DeYoung Museum as an art teacher for children with special needs. This position solidified his existing interest in mental health, and he returned to school to get a degree in counseling with a goal of working as a school counselor for the same program.
In 2004, Brian was recruited by the New Zealand government to work at a psychiatric treatment center. He jumped at the chance to live in New Zealand, where he worked at a rehabilitation center for individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder diagnoses for five years. Following his time in New Zealand, Brian moved to Sydney, Australia. He lived there for four years and worked at a private hospital with patients with borderline personality disorder, conducting therapy through their inpatient and outpatient DBT programs. Brian greatly values the experiences he had in Australia and New Zealand and admires the countries’ approaches to mental health care. He is still a dual citizen!
Brian has worn many hats at Kaiser Permanente. For four years, he coordinated a robust DBT program, one of his proudest accomplishments in his department. He also thoroughly enjoys being part of IOP, gushing about how amazing his manager and colleagues are and reflecting on the benefits of team-based mental health care. In fact, Brian states that his coworkers are his favorite part of his job. He describes them as “lovely, absolutely amazing,” and feels fortunate to have a manager who is “super kind, compassionate, and capable.” In addition to loving the people with whom he works, Brian greatly values the long-term relationships he forms with patients at KP. He describes the “amazing warm feeling” of seeing patients grow and change over time, and how special it is to be part of that.
As Brian’s career has progressed, he has focused more of his time on supervision and supporting trainees. He enjoys helping new clinicians with professional development, noting that this is something that is not always taught in schools. Brian remembers how daunting it feels to be a trainee working at a big organization and strives to help trainees learn to navigate a new system and entity at Kaiser Permanente. He also states that working with trainees enhances his own clinical work. Having the opportunity to talk with trainees about their patients and hear their clinical perspectives and approaches to problem solving encourages him to reflect on his own work with patients.
In his free time, Brian enjoys painting, drawing, riding his bike, exercising, and spending time with his dog, Rosie. When asked what he wished he knew when he got started in the mental health field, Brian responded, “listen more and talk less… you miss a lot when you’re talking.” He also added, “the problem is never the problem.” Wise words indeed! Thank you for your contributions to the MHTP, Brian!
Contributed by Micaela Birt, Psy.D.