Why is a therapist's education important?

There are three kinds of knowledge important with a therapist. Background knowledge refers to a therapist's early education, from high school to college and then graduate school. Professional knowledge refers to a therapist's training and practical skills related to a particular specialty, such as hypnotherapy or certification in the treatment of childhood trauma, for example. The last kind of knowledge is ongoing, which refers to a therapist's ability to learn from past experience, adapt quickly to a situation change (particularly while in session), and otherwise learn "in the moment".

Ward recognizes all of these as essential to good professional practice.

His background knowledge comes from a preparatory high school called Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington, where he grew up. Ward then traveled across the country to Hamilton College in Clinton, graduating in 1992. He took some time off from Hamilton to backpack alone through Southeast Asia in 1990 to Australia, where he attended the University of New South Wales in Sydney for a semester. After Hamilton, and some time living in Melbourne, Australia, Ward entered graduate school to be a high school teacher, completed a masters in education at The College of Saint Rose in Albany. He taught high school English, Psychology, and Local History for several years before returning to graduate school at Syracuse University, graduating from there in the year 2000.

Ward's professional knowledge has been ongoing, as he has developed specialties in the treatment of children and their families over the years, particularly the treatment of moderate to severe oppositional defiance, a common and devastating illness among children whose parents are virtually unable to manage them. He has received advanced training, as well, in:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Assessment and Counseling
  • Combat Stress Reduction
  • Critical Incident Stress Management
  • Treatment of Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Recovery from the Addiction and Re-addiction Cycle
  • Parental Authority Empowerment for ODD
  • Legal Considerations in the Clinical Field
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Sexual Offender Relapse Prevention and Maintenance
  • Social Work Ethics and Management
  • Recognizing, Preventing, and Treating Child Abuse
  • Preliminary Hypnotherapy Techniques in Clinical Practice
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Special Veteran Issues
  • Teenage Substance Abuse and Dependency
  • Employee Assistance in the American Workforce
  • Recovering from Domestic Violence
  • Managing Borderline Personality Disorder within the Family System

With regard to ongoing knowledge, Ward believes that life is an extended learning process, rather than simply the product of past choices. He is quick to admit error and even quicker to fix what happened, rarely making the same mistake twice. Ward adapts his clinical approach to the individuals in his office, or members of the groups he is guiding, switching from serious to humorous to deeply empathic. He believes in unconditional positive regard for those he is helping.

So who is Ward Halverson?

Ward Halverson is a licensed, practicing child and family therapist based in and around the county of Herkimer, New York. His education and clinical background is extensive (see this web site for more) and his focus of expertise is children, family systems, and veterans. He believes in the empowerment of the individual and - very strongly - the role of family in modern America. Ward is often called on as a problem solver, and consulted by other professionals as an expert with children who refuse to follow rules, struggle with their anger, or are dangerous. Recognizing that such difficulties are usually related directly to what's happening within the family, Ward has developed a practice focused almost-exclusively on the family system itself, such as parenting roles, children's behavior, communication styles, and the development of solutions. He uses a strength-based approach to most everything, which includes a lot of humor and down-to-earth practical ideas that have been tested, successfully, again and again with families he has helped.

What is Ward good at?

Ward is at his best working with families who are struggling to manage their children, for whatever reason. Within the initial session, Ward will make sure parents understand exactly what their children and family members are going through, what works (and what doesn't), and how to begin making the changes necessary to success. Ward is a problem solver. He is good at helping others ultimately find their own solutions, which is a rare skill. He also works closely couples, quickly assessing out what may be wrong, identifying the problem, and guiding people toward solutions. Like many professional therapists, Ward has a variety of other interests. He enjoys helping people cope with sadness, fear, past trauma, insomnia, stress, major life changes, or mental illness of most any kind. He helps others with assertiveness, self-esteem, and self-confidence - particularly women who have suffered through domestic violence and are trying to repair their lives afterward. Employee assistance, step-down services from residential and psychiatric facilities, smoking cessation, and support to veterans are other serious interests. Ward is seeking further qualification as an EMDR, or eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing therapist.

What can Ward not do?

Ward is not a medical doctor, and for that reason he cannot write prescriptions or prescribe medications. He works closely with medical doctors in the area, however, to complement therapy, as many treatments for mental illnesses have been proven to respond best to a combination approach.

Ward is also not a licensed psychologist. Although he often writes detailed clinical assessments and can legally diagnose and treat mental illness, Ward does not perform psychometric testing or more-complex psychological testing. That is the realm of the clinical psychologist or school psychologist. For that reason, Ward connects with psychologists through the school systems, legal system, or directly, usually for the purpose of further testing.

It's also important for families to understand good clinical boundaries. For example, Ward does not hug. Around families that he works with, Ward will never touch anyone except to shake hands or, perhaps, provide a clap on the shoulder - this is particularly true for women, girls, or children of any age. Ward will never get into a car with a patient or patient's family, which means he is unable to drive a patient somewhere, even before or after a home visit.

As well, Ward is also not qualified as any of the following: Art Therapist, Music Therapist, Jungian Psychotherapist, Personal Construct Therapist, Dance Therapist, Existential Psychotherapist, Therapeutic Touch Psychotherapist, Feminist Therapist, or Transpersonal Therapist.

Ward Halverson's curriculum vitae:
Ward V. Halverson, LCSW, M.Ed.
417 East German Street, Herkimer, NY 13350
Ph. (315) 868-1000 fax. 866-3174, e-mail:


NYS Licensed Clinical Social Worker #071284 ("R" number pending)
CT Licensed Clinical Social Worker #005073
NYS Public High School Teacher Certification, September 1995 # 537687995 (NY)


Masters in Social Work (With Distinction), May 2000: Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
Masters in Education, May 1995: The College of Saint Rose, Albany, NY
Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude), December 1992: Hamilton College, Clinton, NY


Child and Family Therapist
Private Practice: Ward V. Halverson, Herkimer, NY, January 2007 - Present
Owner and primary clinician for practice specializing in the assessment and treatment of child and family-based mental illness, dysfunction, oppositional defiance, anger, stress, anxiety, and other concerns. Special interest in veterans, couples counseling, MBTI-related consulting, smoking cessation, and more.

Child and Family Therapist
Family Ties, The Neighborhood Center, Utica, NY, June 2003 - Present
Director and lead clinician of intensive in-home treatment program through Herkimer County Mental Health and Probation departments. Assess, diagnose, and treat wide variety of individual and family system dysfunctions using behavioral, solution-focused, strength-based treatments, or other methods as indicated. Excellent success rates.

Army Medical Officer
United States Army Reserve/Active Duty, December 2000 - July 2006
Captain with 865th combat support hospital in Utica, NY; Director of Mental Health for Detainee Operations, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan and pre-combat training, Fort Benning, GA December 2004 - February 2006

Clinical Social Worker (promoted)
St. Francis Home for Children, New Haven, CT, July 2001 - January 2003
All responsibilities below, plus: promoted to Intern Supervisor and Yale Mentor Program Coordinator; responsible for management of agency undergraduate trainees and program administration; including clinical supervision, documentation, and oversight.

Clinical Social Worker
St. Francis Home for Children, New Haven, CT, July 2000 - January 2003
Directed long-term caseload of adolescents and children with severe emotional disabilities and psychiatric illnesses in a restricted residential setting. Responsible for intensive case management, clinical assessment/diagnoses, treatment coordination with milieu staff, and close communication with medical, legal, and community providers. Focus on research-backed interventions and family-based therapy; initiated a variety of clinical-focused community-oriented programs.

Clinical Social Worker
Human Resource Directions, Utica, NY, August 1999 - July 2000
Provided professional-level counseling and therapeutic interventions for individuals, children, and families in a regional employee-assistance program; managed extensive client caseload, created and implemented corporate training courses; responsible for marketing and sales, contract maintenance, publications.

Social Worker
Folts Home, Inc., Herkimer, NY, December, 1998 - July, 1999
Advocated for 12-patient case file, designed assessment/treatment approaches, counseled residents from interventions to termination; close work with Ph.D. psychologist, team approach, founded/expanded successful veterans group. COMMUNITY SERVICE:

Director Dolgeville Riverside Community CAFE, Dolgeville, NY, June 2006 - Present Took over fiscal and community leadership of struggling, teenage-driven community organization and non-profit, reorganized and began year of intense fundraising and activities leading to June 2007 reopening; raised $9,000 as of March 2007. Worked closely student board members, other adults, and small village community resources. Counselor New Horizons of the Mohawk Valley, Utica, NY, June 1996 - August 1999 Advocated for adolescent girls in long-term residential treatment program, provided ongoing counseling and therapeutic interventions, organized age-based activities. Initiated and expanded host home program, engaged follow-up critical incident evaluative practices, consulted with mental health professionals and government resources, engaged in marketing and program promotion.

Emergency Medical Technician, Captain (EMT) Dolgeville Volunteer Ambulance Corp., Dolgeville, NY, June 1993 - June 2000 Stabilized and transported numerous patients in medical crisis via community organization; NYS certified/trained. Extensive anatomy/physiology background with emergency care assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Engaged in more than 500 rapid-reaction responses as either crew chief or supervisor, provided CISM debriefing and defusing, initiated and completed state credentialing; extensive use of teamwork, investigation, group processing.

Runaway Youth Home Host Catholic Family Charities of Herkimer County, Ilion, NY, 1996 - Present Maintain on-call status for 1 -14 night stays; older adolescents in emotional or family system distress. Provide informal counseling and support, referrals.


U.S. Army Meritorious Service Medal: Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan Special Recognition: Catholic Family Charities of Herkimer County Certificate of Appreciation: The Neighborhood Center of Utica, 2006 Sister Helen Margaret Gormally Certificate of Appreciation: St. Francis Home, 2001 Deans List / Presidential List: Syracuse University, 1998-2000 (3.9 GPA) Captain, Board of Directors: Dolgeville Ambulance Corps, 1994 - 2000


Captain, United States Army Reserve, 865th Combat Support Hospital, Utica National Association of Social Workers (May 2000 - Present) Employee Assistance Professionals Association (May 2000 - Present)


MBTI-based counseling, critical incident stress management (debriefing/defusing), grant writing, computer applications and efficiency, blue water sailing, Ultimate Frisbee, gardening, community, advocating for children's needs