Adrian Costello is Apicha Community Health Center’s newest behavioral health specialist.
Adrian is a licensed clinical social worker who graduated from Hunter College School of Social Work in 2010. He worked at Community Healthcare Network for 5 years, first as a counselor in the transgender program, providing counseling, group support, and psychoeducation, and later as a psychotherapist in the mental health program.
Previously, he was as social work intern at the LGBT Community Center. He is interested in the ways that trauma and oppression can impact both mental and physical health and is particularly enthusiastic about de-stigmatizing mental health issues and providing support around gender and sexuality.
1. How did you end up at Apicha Community Health Center?
I’ve done work that’s somewhat similar. And, I’ve always heard great things about Apicha CHC, so when I saw the job posting, I figured I’d give it a shot!
Previously I worked with Community Healthcare Network. I had two roles there. First I worked as a counselor in the Transgender Program, which has some overlap with the Trans* Health Clinic at Apicha CHC. And for a few years I worked in the mental health department.
In a lot of ways, my role here is a combination of both of those jobs, some of the counseling, some education on health and mental health topics, as well as hormone education, and getting to provide an affirming environment for trans* and gender non-conforming clients.
2. What are your first impressions of Apicha CHC?
One thing that definitely strikes me about Apicha CHC is that the providers, case managers, front desk staff—everyone really knows the patients. There’s so much effort to keep the patients engaged.
I’m impressed by that because that isn’t the primary focus at many health care centers. Many other places just try to cram as many people in as they possibly can. It doesn’t matter who they are or what’s going on with them---it’s just get ‘em in and get ‘em out.
Apicha CHC feels much more like a considered, human way to provide healthcare.
3. How did you decide to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?
A: It wasn’t a direct route at all. I got a degree in language and literacy, which is basically a degree in teaching adult education, so I taught very briefly before I realized I didn’t like teaching [laughs]. But I did realize I liked working with students one-on-one. Didn’t take long to realize I didn’t care as much about my students’ grammar usage as I cared about what they had to say. Social work just made more sense, and it’s a way better fit for me!
4. What are your initial impressions of Apicha CHC’s Patients?
There are a variety of people who come here, so there’s not one thing that encompasses all of them. But, I do get the sense that people who come to Apicha CHC are looking for a really specific type of health care. There is an assertiveness about what they need or what they’re looking for.
I’ve been surprised by how open many of them have been because not everybody is excited to talk to a social worker. But, most people at Apicha have really been able to open up and begin to build trust.
I’m impressed by the amount of resourcefulness and resilience people have here as well. A lot of patients have been through some tough things and have found ways to thrive.
5. Is that something you can identify with?
Well, I’ve definitely had a lot of privileges which have made things easier for me than for many. But I do identify with having to grapple with identity and going through some ups and downs and major changes to claim who I am.
And then there have been some more practical challenges. Like after I graduated from college, I had no idea where I was going to go or what I was going to do. I just had no road map for after. At the time, I had a professor who was moving to Philadelphia and she said, “You can’t move back in with your parents. Move to Philadelphia! You can crash on my couch if you need to!”
So I did! I got a one way ticket to a city I’d never been to and found a room and a not-so-fantastic job in the space of a week. It was a disaster at times for a kid from Ohio with little street smarts, but I made it work.
Apicha CHC is very proud to provide quality, affordable, and non-discriminatory healthcare to the LGBT and trans* communities. If you’re interested in learning about our other providers, check out our last post about Emmet Phipps, our newest Nurse Practictioner.