Director of Supportive Services
Matt | Building Bridges for LGBTQ Youth
“The young people who come to us typically arrive at a moment of crisis. We ask of each one, ‘What can we do to best serve this individual, right here, right now?’ Our counselors understand the importance of working with each person at that particular place and crucial moment in time.”
“We tailor our counseling services to each individual," says Matthew Rofofsky, who has directed Hetrick-Martin’s Supportive Services Department since 2006. “Our job is to empower them.”
Empowering Hetrick-Martin's LGBTQ youth, he says, requires all direct program staff to work together to meet the needs of each individual. Every week, the After-School and Supportive Service departments meet for a Case Conference, a meeting in which a team of Master’s-level social workers, interns and experienced youth workers develop a comprehensive service plan for every young person they serve. They address psychosocial issues with respect to positive youth development goals, and implement the right combination of wrap-around services to ensure each youth’s success.
One of the most urgent needs among this population is HIV counseling, prevention, and education. This is an area in which Matthew has worked for more than a dozen years, five of them as the Director of the Mobile Mental Health Program at the Harlem United Community AIDS Center. He brings to this experience an educational background that includes a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University, and a certificate in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy from The American Institute for Psychoanalysis of the Karen Horney Psychoanalytic Center. Matthew’s training and hands-on experience in working closely with special-needs populations uniquely qualifies him to address the multiple and pressing concerns of individuals infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, and who may also be struggling with issues related to mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, and any number of additional psychological or social conditions.
Enhancing the connection between Hetrick-Martin and the Harvey Milk High School is another important aspect of Matthews’s work. He collaborates with other social workers and teachers on projects such as the Buddy Advisory Program, a year-long course and innovative collaboration between Hetrick-Martin and HMHS staff that uses Positive Youth Development principles to improve social-emotional functioning and to help youth make responsible and thoughtful life choices.
Matthew has worked hard to build bridges in the community. “My hope is to further de-stigmatize the mental health issues our young people face, and increase access to counseling services for LGBTQ youth by offering our expertise at conferences and workshops, promoting our services at interagency events, and enhancing our existing services.”
He adds, “Professional growth is also a priority.” He proudly calls his team “the city's experts in working with LGBTQ youth.” He has coordinated on-site training for his staff to ensure professional development in their clinical skills. Training areas have included: advanced clinical assessment, techniques in play therapy, working with trauma and adolescence, eating disorders and other self-harming behaviors, addressing domestic violence, negotiating external provider systems and transgender issues.
“We are totally committed to the well-being of our young people.”
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