Welcome (back), Barton Shulman!
It may seem odd to call Barton Shulman a new staff member since he is no stranger to AHP. After a gig as a volunteer group facilitator in the early 1990s, Shulman spent the next twenty years pursuing his dream to work full-time as a paid employee at AHP. Three months into his second one-year term as a clinical intern, Shulman applied to be and was hired as a social worker and could proclaim, “I finally have my dream job!”
Shulman’s parents, both civil rights attorneys, raised him with a strong sense of social justice. By 1995, HIV had become his “cause;” he immersed himself in it, facilitating up to four groups per week at AHP, at the same time as he volunteered at Bay Area Young Positives, and both the San Francisco and the Los Angeles AIDS Walks. He states, “I just fell in love with the work.”
Today, Shulman provides individual therapy and facilitates two of AHP’s weekly therapy groups: one for long-term HIV survivors, the other for folks seeking to enhance wellness and day-to-day coping and living skills. Shulman also serves as the staff support for AHP’s peer support groups, facilitating monthly meetings to assist and guide the volunteers doing the same work that he began 20 years ago. Soon, after completing all the accreditation requirements, he’ll become a fully Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).
AHP implements its strength-based philosophy by instilling in staff the belief that each client has the internal capacity to undertake the challenges they identify. For Shulman, this is precisely why working at AHP is so rewarding, and he compares his role as a social worker supporting clients to a gardener tending plants. “I can’t make change,” he says, “I can just make the conditions right.” And through his individual and group work, Shulman gets to see the fruits of his labor: “seeing people ‘get it’—how beautiful and flawed each of us is, and how wonderful it is to be connected.”