our students and alumni

Olivia Fabiani, MSW '14

Olivia Fabiani.
“I have come to learn the importance of quality clinical supervision and working on a collaborative team. ”

by Catherine Donnelly

The University at Buffalo is only a few miles from the Canadian border, but attending UB as an international student from Ontario still felt like a world away. Olivia Fabiani, MSW ’14, chose UB because it felt like the best place to gain the knowledge she wanted, but she admits to being nervous before she started.

“I came to UB not knowing anyone but I quickly became immersed into the MSW program. My classes were engaging and some of my lifelong friendships and professional collaborations were formed through UB,” said Fabiani.

Currently, Fabiani works as a clinical therapist at a not-for-profit that services the Niagara Region in Ontario. She is on the Mobile Intensive Treatment Team at Pathstone Mental Health working with children and their families who have complex special needs such as co-morbid mental health issues, dual diagnoses, and Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or developmental concerns.  

“I was fortunate to set up my field placements in Ontario. In fact, in my first year, I was able to start working with my current agency in outpatient counseling. My second year was in community programming at a local agency for youth who have become involved with the legal system,” Fabiani continued. “It was very seamless for me to transition after graduating from UB to finding employment in Canada. Once my coursework was complete I applied for registration with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. This allowed me to apply for jobs prior to my graduation.  The week after my convocation in May 2014, I began my career as a school-based therapist and have been a registered social worker ever since. My passion is in family therapy which is how I went back to Pathstone.”

Fabiani says her favorite class was Interventions with Denise Krause because it helped to enhance critical thinking skills and develop a clinical approach. In fact, she spent her second year working as a TA for Professor Krause. In addition, UB’s core principles, including trauma-informed care, have become crucial in social work since navigating the pandemic as a therapist.

“Ambiguous grief and loss have become a constant theme in my work since 2020. The overwhelming sense of loss that has been felt on a global level is often a main focus in my treatment with clients. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of considering an ecological systems theory approach. This is due to not only ongoing mental health difficulties, but the constant change in routine, isolation from loved ones, and ongoing lockdowns in Canada, she continued. “I have come to learn the importance of quality clinical supervision and working on a collaborative team.”

Her advice for current students is to seek out working relationships in your field placement, commit to ongoing education and follow a daily practice of self-care.

“In social work, it is our responsibility to be lifelong learners. For me, it has been extremely important to seek out ongoing training and certifications in different modalities, which further enhances my clinical practice.”