Sterling Woods Jr., LSW

Old Bridge, NJ

“In 2012 I aspired to join law enforcement and beginning a long career in the criminal justice field.  But it would seem that God had different plans for me. In 2013, I started working with at-risk youth at the Edison Job Corps Training Academy. I naturally connected with the children and noticed that there were many unresolved mental health issues.


I was a career counselor at the time, and I realized how I would be able to prepare these youth for a career when they have all of these issues that impact their ability to be employable or maintain employment. I decided to take this opportunity to do more. In 2016 I decided to go to graduate school so I could be adequately educated and trained in formal interventions that could help these youth.  Once I got into Social Work, I knew that it was the career for me.”

“My experience was a little different. I was trying to figure out how to go to school without dedicating so much time in the classroom. I did my research for an online program and discovered the University of Southern California. I liked this program it because we did virtual classes, and my schedule was flexible. My concentration was on children and adolescents. I made sure that I took courses that would impact my populations. I thought that if I’m going to work with this population, I have to educate myself on what they go through and how I can better help them.” 

“I love working with at-risk youth, teens, and young adults, especially young men of color. When I was younger and growing up, certain people in my life were positive influences, and that is something that I want to be for other people.”

“From the New Jersey perspective, I’d like to see more opportunities for youth to be able to get quality substance abuse treatment when they need it. New Jersey has just legalized marijuana, and youth will have more access to drugs. A lot of youth are self-medication to get through their issues at home and in life. As Social Workers, we need to educate our youth, so they don’t turn to harmful drugs, but we also need to have the treatment and care for them.”

Since the pandemic, it’s been a challenge switching to telehealth. Some clients are hesitant to open up because not everyone has the luxury of being in a quiet room to themselves. Suppose you don’t have a smartphone, laptop, or internet access; it is hard to provide them with quality services. In some cases, I’m limited to audio which takes away my ability to read body language. Attention span has also been a challenge. It’s already hard enough to keep youth and young adults engaged, but to keep them engaged virtually, you have to get creative.

“Self-care and burnout was always talked about in school. No one realizes what burnout is until you’re knee-deep in it, and it’s too late. You are unable to provide that quality service or put your best foot forward if you don’t take care of yourself. Sometime you have to take off work, take a day.”


“Self-Care for me includes a variety of things but mostly includes high-intensity activities, martial arts, weight lifting, working out. I also like reading fictional books taking myself away from reality. I also love motivational and inspirational books. I created a motivational routine for myself where I write my gratitude list and affirmations.” 

“I have many proud moments. Most of them have to do with my clients. I enjoy seeing how my clients have changed from the beginning of treatment to and seeing their recovery journey and change in becoming their best selves.”