James Brown originally began his college career in engineering with aspirations of becoming an inventor. However, after working with struggling youth, he shifted his career goals by entering into a social work program at Northern Michigan University.
James worked as a student substance abuse worker for the university. He also was part of a leadership grant that coordinated university students to service projects.
James began his post BSW career as a foster care caseworker for Child and Family Services in Marquette. The knowledge and skills he acquired from social work courses provided great value in working with a variety of families. Upon acceptance to the University of Michigan’s MSW program, James and his family moved to Ann Arbor.
During his MSW field placement with Tony Alvarez, a School Social Worker and Adventure Therapist, James began co-facilitating adventure groups with middle school youth. Alvarez taught him a model for engaging clients that used concrete activities to reduce social barriers and increase communication. Upon his graduation in 1993, James began his own career in school social work.
As a school social worker, James joined an Intermediate School District team that served youth ages 4-21 with emotional and learning disabilities. The coverage area was vast: Three counties and four school districts. After two years of diagnostic and classroom group work, he accepted a new role as an “at-risk” school social worker in a single school district. The new position focused on a prevention model of service, with the inclusion of parents, youth, and community resources.
In 2005, James accepted an offer to attend the Indiana University School of Social Work PhD program in Indianapolis. He saw this as an opportunity that would prepare him for further growth and development in the field. James’ scholarly writing professor, Margaret Adamek, encouraged him to develop an intervention he used with bullied youth called Verbal Judo, a cognitive behavioral technique developed by Dr. David Burns. This idea led to a qualitative dissertation titled: Trajectories of parents’ experiences in discovering, reporting, and living with the aftermath of middle school bullying, in which he successfully defended in January of 2010. While in a transition from PhD student to academic, James was recruited by psychologist Matt Aalsma, PhD, to work on a grant funded research project at Indiana University’s school of medicine. The research examined detained youth’s barriers and facilitators to mental health care. The experience further developed James’ understanding of how macro policy decisions reverberate down to the individual.
At the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, James’ teaches BSW and MSW students. The three primary courses he teaches are: Human behavior in the social environment, Community lab, and Interpersonal practice skills. He is also a faculty advisor for the U-W-O Student Social Work Association.
Aalsma, M.C., & Brown, J.R. (2008). What is bullying? Journal of Adolescent Health. 43, p. 101-102. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.06.001
Brown, J.R., Aalsma, M.C., Ott, M.E. (2013). The experiences of parents who report youth bullying victimization to school officials. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28 (3), 494-518. doi: 10.1177/0886260512455513
Brown, J.R., Holloway, E., Akakpo, T., & Aalsma, M. C. (2013). “Straight up”: Enhancing rapport and therapeutic alliance with previously-detained youth in the delivery of mental health services. Community Mental Health Journal. doi: 10.1007/s10597-013-9617-3
Holloway, E., Brown, J.R., Suman, P., & Aalsma, M.C. (2012). A qualitative examination of juvenile probation officers as gateway providers to mental health care. Criminal Justice Policy Review. 1-23. DOI: 25, 2012 0887403412436603
Van Auken, P., Golding, S., & Brown, J.R. (2012). Prompting with pictures: Determinism and democracy in imaged-based planning. Journal of the American Planning Association, 10 (1).
Weaver, L., Brown, J.R., Aalsma, M.C., & Weddle, D. (2013). Protective factors within state’s anti-bullying law: A content analysis. Journal of School Violence, 28 (2), 156-173. doi:10.1080/15388220.2012.751537
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