about Carmel

Carmel T. Drewes

  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (Massachusetts)
  • Inactive: Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Board Approved Supervisor (Texas)

My professional life has focused on providing people with the knowledge and skills that will foster their self empowerment. This has taken the forms of education, training, and counseling.

Social Services, Public Health, and Social Work:

In 1997 I started volunteering, and then working, at the Women’s Center of Rhode Island, a residential program for women and children leaving situations of violence or homelessness. Violence prevention and issues of empowerment have been part of every job since then. From 2001-2006 I worked at the Migrant Clinicians Network in Austin, TX, focusing on health education and health disparities in communities of migrant workers throughout the United States. I spent 2007 to 2009 at the Smith College School for Social Work, doing my clinical internships at Families First and Jewish Family & Career Services (both in Atlanta, GA). In 2010 I returned to Austin and worked as the Counselor and Client Services Coordinator at the Center for Survivors of Torture. In 2013 & 2014 I worked as a Lead Counselor at the YWCA Greater Austin. I taught as an adjunct faculty member, in classes related to direct service, at the UT Austin School of Social Work from 2013-2015. I am currently the Clinical Services Manager at the Refugee & Immigrant Assistance Center in Boston. My clinical work incorporates psychodynamic, somatosensory, and relational-cultural theories. I have written psychosocial reports and served as an expert witness in immigration cases since 2011.

Martial Arts and Empowerment Self Defense:

I have been training in the martial arts since 1998. When I moved to Austin, Texas in 2000 I visited several potential schools and joined Sun Dragon Martial Arts & Self Defense which was then a Kyokushin school for women and children. Self-defense from a feminist framework was integrated into our classes and I started teaching self-defense workshops in 2002. I earned my Kyokushin black belt from Sensei Suzanne Pinette in 2004. In 2008, under the leadership of Sensei Joy Williamson, Sun Dragon became a Seido school. I earned my Seido shodan (first degree black belt) in 2013, nidan (2nd) in 2016 and sandan (3rd) in 2019. I was the Director of Prevention and Healing Programs at Sun Dragon before I moved to Massachusetts in 2016. I formerly served on the board of directors of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation and have been a member of the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors; I am a founding member of the Empowerment Self Defense Alliance.  I go back to Austin to train regularly at Sun Dragon, and also travel to NYC to train with Kaicho and Nidame.

English Language Instruction:

I started teaching English as a volunteer at Casa Marianella in Austin, TX in 2001 and that setting — with its strong focus on supporting immigrant and refugees as they mobilize and voice their own power — has stayed with me throughout my English teaching. From 2010-2013 I taught for the adult education ESL program through Austin Independent School District. Since 2016 I have been volunteering through Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts program at the Stoughton Public Library and teaching through the Adult Basic Education program of Massasoit Community College.

Community Mobilization:

I am a social worker because the interplay between our selves, our relationships, and our communities is essential to how I view the world. I love being a community mobilization matchmaker — connecting people to others who share their concerns or are working on similar issues. Sometimes my brain feels a bit like an overcomplicated infomap, but the connection points all make sense to me somehow.

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