Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kelly Gallaugher: ‘There is a tremendous need for people to talk with somebody’
Anxiety, depression, loneliness, loss, stress and trauma.
Many people, from children to seniors, are dealing with these issues – and many others.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kelly Gallaugher wants to help patients with their challenges, which have a far-reaching effect on their mental and physical health.
“The world is such a scary place right now,” says Gallaugher, who joined Western Sierra Medical Clinic in early 2023. “There is a tremendous need for people to talk with somebody.”
Sometimes the challenge is obvious for patients, like the death of a family member, financial issues or a job loss. For other patients, a change in their life – such as battling bad dreams or struggling with substance use – are a warning sign of an unaddressed trauma.
“People come to me when they know they have a problem and are ready to address something,” says Gallaugher, who works in the Auburn and Grass Valley offices. “They know something is not working for them. But they have to be ready to talk about it.”
When they are, Gallaugher is ready to help – and listen.
She has more than two decades of experience as a social worker, most recently as Outreach Supervisor for the California Violence Intervention Program (Cal-VIP) for Hospitality House in Grass Valley. In the position, she worked closely with the Grass Valley Police Department to connect adults experiencing homelessness with local organizations and services.
Her career includes working with inmates in jails and prisons, people living with HIV and those experiencing homelessness in the Tenderloin District in San Francisco.
“I’ve worked with all kinds of people,” says Gallaugher, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from California State University, Chico, and a master’s degree in Social Work from San Jose State University. “I’m very passionate about helping people. It’s very humbling.”
But after connecting with and getting the “vulnerable and marginalized” the help they needed for two decades, Gallaugher “wanted to develop more deep interactions” with patients.
Western Sierra Medical Clinic offers such an opportunity.
“I really loved what I did, but I needed to grow,” says Gallaugher, who became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker a couple of years ago. “Collaboration in a medical setting is exciting to me.”
At Western Sierra, the far-reaching goal is to treat the whole person, and that includes the behavioral health team and primary-care providers working together. She is happy to be part of the team that helps patients deal with – and hopefully overcome – their challenges.
“I want to know patients feel better than when they first met me,” says Gallaugher, who adds that how frequently she meets with patients depends on their needs.
Away from work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their dog. Gallaugher, who grew up in northern San Diego County, also likes exploring Nevada County and watching reality TV shows.
“Everyone has a story to share.”