Agency Field Awards 2020

Ada Cheung

Dr. Ada Cheung

Field Instructor of the Year

Agency: Jewish Family Service of Houston
Title: Chief Clinical Officer

1. Why is it important for you to work with social work interns?
I always learn something new from my interns. It is very rewarding to go on a clinical journey with them. I feel so energized when we get into deep discussions on how to make a decision about ethical dilemmas, how to find a way to get unstuck in difficult cases, how to help them integrate what they learn in the classroom into practice and how to stay creative with the use of different theoretical modalities.

2. How long have you had GSSW interns?
This was my second semester, since Fall 2019.

3. Tell us a little about yourself and your job.
I am the Chief Clinical Officer at Jewish Family Service of Houston. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and board-certified Supervisor with a PhD in Social Work. I have more than 20 years of experience in the behavioral and mental health field. Besides carrying my own case load, I have an administrator role at JFS to ensure our clinical work meets the highest standards in ethics by following the NASW code of ethics for social workers, by ensuring that our clinical practice is guided by evidence based practice and by ensuring that we have a culturally competent practice so that we can provide high quality service to our clients. I love teaching. I am an adjunct faculty member and field instructor for the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work. I also provide Continuing Education presentations on various topics.

4. Tell us a little about your agency.
Jewish Family Service was founded in 1913 and is a nonprofit human service agency for people of all ages, all faiths and all walks of life. Our goal is to provide light, hope and help to individuals struggling with life challenges. JFS provides behavioral and mental health services, disability services, senior adult services, case management services, employment services, Jewish chaplaincy services at area hospitals, community outreach, financial assistance programs, volunteer opportunities and internship programs. All fees are affordable and based on a flexible fee scale, which takes into account the client's ability to pay. No client is ever refused quality care due to an inability to pay. Many services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance plans. JFS is a beneficiary of United Way of Greater Houston and Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.

5. What does it mean to you to receive this award?
Being an educator and social worker, it means a lot to me that my contribution to the social work field is recognized. It is my honor to be nominated and awarded for the work I love to do. I am always thankful to the interns who have touched my life, and I am thankful to Baylor University for giving me the opportunity to work with the Baylor Social Work team.

And to add, a quote that keeps me going:
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

What others have to say about Ada...
Interning at Jewish Family Service (JFS) under Dr. Cheung’s supervision has been an experience that challenges me in the best ways possible to learn and grow as a clinician and a social worker. I am grateful for the benefit of Dr. Cheung’s clinical expertise, her extensive management acumen, and her profound ability to lead by example in all that she does.

In her daily conduct, whether with patients or with staff, Dr. Cheung exemplifies the core of social work practice. She is the consummate professional; always empathetic, perceptive, and validating. Her generosity of spirit is such that during clinical supervision, for example, all questions – no matter how ill-considered – are morphed into profound, thoughtful inquiries that leave one feeling exceptionally brilliant! She is kind in tone and manner with everyone she supervises as well as with all she comes in contact with. Despite her many competing commitments, she is consistently present and engaged and somehow manages to juggle a multitude of obligations with seamless ease. Thanks to her guidance and support, I have been able to expand my patient population at JFS to include children – a group I have not worked with in almost 20 years due to significant past trauma. Because of Dr. Cheung, I have rediscovered my joy in working with children and have healed in a way that would not have been possible without her. I will likely now specialize in this population. For this, I will always be grateful to Dr. Cheung as she has given me a gift beyond measure.

Dr. Cheung supervises a number of interns at JFS and I know that they have all had similar experiences as mine under her guidance.