An Interview with Libby Parks, LCSW, CEDS

By Elizabeth "Libby" Parks, LCSW, CEDS
Quote from Libby Parks


Insights into Social Work at ACUTE

Before patients enter the unit, our social work team is already working in the background taking steps to help patients accomplish their goals. The ACUTE social work team aims to build rapport and provide strength-based services to each of our patients, taking their unique circumstances and goals into account the entire time. 

Every social worker on our team is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and are clinicians who rely on their clinical expertise to ensure patients can successfully participate in treatment and have a safe discharge.  Working with the complex nature of many of our patients, ACUTE's social workers are experienced in balancing the services for a psychiatric illness with medical complications, including familiarity with many of the facilities, treatment options and resources local to patients.

A Conversation With Libby Parks, LCSW, CEDS

ACUTE has some impressive professionals on our social work team. In our interview series, we aim to highlight the talented individuals who work at ACUTE and the ways they impact the lives of our patients. This time we spoke with Libby Parks, LCSW, CEDS, ACUTE's Clinical Social Work Lead.

Libby joined ACUTE in 2019 after working in residential, PHP and IOP levels of eating disorder care in New York. She obtained her Master of Social Work degree at New York University Silver School of Social Work with special focus on clinical work with individuals, groups and families. 

Please describe your typical day at ACUTE.

My days can vary so much, which is something I love about this role! Some days, I see patients back-to-back, while others I spend time in my office on phone calls with families, outpatient teams, treatment centers or insurance case managers. I am always collaborating and communicating with other ACUTE team members. There are also many opportunities at ACUTE for continuing education, so I will also attend lectures and meetings which help broaden my understanding of the medical complications of eating disorders and malnutrition.

What drew you to ACUTE ? What do you enjoy about working at ACUTE?

I was really interested by the intersection between medical care and psychiatric care in a hospital setting. ACUTE is unique in that aspect and treats both elements exceptionally well. My favorite part of ACUTE is my colleagues. I am so lucky to work with such smart, caring and dedicated folks!

Describe the importance of social work and how it can support patients through their journey in eating disorder treatment and recovery.

Social work has a critical role in a patient’s care because we are looking at the full picture. We identify supports, navigate barriers to treatment and can help provide additional context to the rest of the team from the collateral information we receive from a patient’s loved ones or outpatient team. We also receive clinical training in school so we can help support patients with the psychosocial stressors of being hospitalized and away from home. 

What is a highlight or achievement of your career that you’re proud of?

Navigating all the changes in healthcare, and working in a hospital, during COVID-19 was no easy feat! I am proud of the care that our social work team continued to provide during those first years of such uncertainty. We were flexible, creative and hardworking to ensure that our patients still got the best care possible both at ACUTE and at their step-down destinations. 

What is something that you’ve learned from patients that has stuck with you? 

Even though I have expertise in eating disorders and eating disorder care, my patients will always be the experts of themselves and their own lived experience. It’s something I strive to always respect. 

What advice would you give someone looking to enter the social work field?

It is such a rewarding experience to help others who are facing hardship. Those hardships can be challenging for the social worker too and it takes a lot of persistence, advocacy, and integrity to work towards solutions. Take care of yourself first and foremost. Allow yourself to celebrate the wins and remember what a difference you can make in someone else’s life.  

What are some things you look forward to about the future of social work and/or eating disorder care?

I feel really encouraged by the research being done surrounding eating disorders and how much awareness is out there about these illnesses. I am hoping that more people can access care and know that recovery is possible.  

If you weren’t in social work, what else do you think you’d be doing? Why?

Before I became a social worker, I worked in the modern/contemporary art world and that always will have a special place in my heart. I love art and art history.  

What do your weekends look like? What are some of your favorite activities or places to visit?

With the great weather in Colorado, I like to spend as much time outside as possible! I love to hike, cross-country ski, camp and play pickleball. I’m hoping this summer to do some camping by the Tetons in Wyoming! 

Please share a quote you find supportive or inspirational.

It’s a pretty simple one: “Be here now” - Ram Dass. It’s very easy to get carried away by our thoughts and this is a helpful reminder to keep coming back to the present moment. 

If you could have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be?

Fred Rogers, Jane Goodall and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. I think they all exemplify compassion, nurturance, and kindness 

If you could only have one book on your shelf, which would it be? Why?

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I am humbled to learn from others how to be a better steward of this amazing earth. 

If you had six months to travel anywhere you wanted, where would it be? Why?

Domestically, I’d love to go to all the National Parks in the US! Internationally I’m drawn to the cultures and landscapes of Southeast Asia and would love to explore those countries.

Written by

Elizabeth "Libby" Parks, LCSW, CEDS

Libby Parks, LCSW, CEDS joined ACUTE in 2019 after four years working in residential, PHP, and IOP levels of eating disorder care in New York. She obtained her Master of Social Work degree at New York…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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