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Broward County Social Worker of 2012

by Donald Cavanaugh
Friday May 18, 2012

David Fawcett is a busy man. He is a mental health professional, a licensed clinical social worker, certified sex therapist, lecturer, researcher, blogger, workshop facilitator, and private practitioner in psychotherapy, among other things.

He has a master's degree from Hunter College in New York and a Ph.D. from Florida International University. He and his domestic partner live in Oakland Park with two dogs and a cat. He plays piano, dabbles in photography and travels when he has the opportunity.

A few weeks ago, David Fawcett was recognized by the Broward Unit of the Florida Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) with their peer-elected 2012 'Social Worker of the Year' Award.

"I'm truly honored," Fawcett said. "This is a particularly meaningful award. It's a grassroots program and because your peers are the ones who vote for you it means you're really having an impact. It doesn't hurt that the local award winners are recognized by the national organization, either."

He continued: "The NASW really recognized the gay community with this award also. They know I've been working with the gay community for over 25 years. There's no question about my focus."

The criteria for an individual to be nominated for the award include making a demonstrable difference in such areas as advocacy for clients, social work practice, program development, administration, and research. Candidates must also demonstrate outstanding leadership, contribute to a positive image for the social work profession, and take risks to achieve outstanding results.

Anthony Johnson, an HIV/AIDS advocate and organizer of BOLT (Bringing Our Lives Together) who has worked with Fawcett on several occasions, praised him saying, "as an advocate I look up to David as a model. He gets things done and he really helps people."

Over the past 25 years Fawcett's work has focused on three areas that are all of concern for gay people: HIV infection, substance abuse and addictions, and mental health.

"They're all intertwined," Fawcett said. "And they need to be understood separately and in combination. Patients also have to be helped figuring out how to get assistance from three different sources. It can be a nightmare."

Fawcett was instrumental in creating the successful Meth & Men South Florida Project, a non-profit organization which provides a variety of services on a sliding scale.

Christopher Checke, who is now in private practice, was with the United Way at that time and worked with Fawcett on the Meth & Men Project. He agrees that Fawcett met all of the NASW award criteria and more.

"David was the chair of the task force and was the most dedicated and influential therapist to help gay men with the epidemic," Checke said. "He did so much it was incredible."

He continued: "The meth community went underground a few years ago but we're starting to see more clients using the drug. This is very worrisome. South Florida already has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infections in the country. Bringing meth back onto the scene can only make things worse."

He noted that there had been some consideration of a prophylactic approach to medicate prior to possible exposure to the virus. Unscrupulous drug pushers used this little understood and untested idea to sell more drugs suggesting that a single dose of anti-viral medication could prevent the disease. "Drug pushers are insidious," Fawcett said. "And so is this drug."

Fawcett talked excitedly about work he is currently doing with hypnotherapy and trauma. "This is a new approach to helping people overcome the effects of early childhood trauma through feelings rather than words," he said. "Even the way you were born - natural birth or cesarean; pain killers or not - can affect what your adult life will be like."

"There's so much to do it's sometimes overwhelming," he said. "But we can't let that stop us from working to save people's lives."

David Fawcett is a busy man who gets things done. The National Association of Social Workers agrees.

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