Friday, September 30, 2011

Musings About MSW Journey

This week I have officially completed my graduate studies in social work. This means that I may now add the MSW letters next to my name :)

It is both an exciting time and a sad time...I am thrilled because I have succeeded in learning and fulfilling all the requirements to become a social worker. Furthermore, both field experiences that I have had (the women's health clinic last year and the outpatient mental health clinic this year) only reinforced and confirmed my deep interest to become a clinical social worker.

At the same time, I am feeling sad that school is over...I will miss my professors and classmates. Due to the nature of the studies and topics covered, you develop rather close relationships and it is hard to leave all of that behind in addition to the relationships you had to leave behind at your internships.

And then on the other hand, as Tevye in the Fiddler on the Roof would say, there is the excitement (and a little bit of fear) of the unknown - I can't wait to start working as a clinical social worker but when/where will that be...

One of the main items on my "to do" list will be to study for the LMSW licensing exam. Based upon what I have heard from my peers who graduated back in May and/or seen from posted social work ads, it is a prerequisite for most of the positions out there.

In addition, I will be engaging in some self-care and taking some time off before tackling own job search. This may seem counter-intuitive in today's competitive environment but I feel that I need to recharge my batteries, so as to offer my best to my potential clients.

Lastly, below are a few verses of one of Dr. Seuss' wonderful poems that capture some of my thoughts and emotions vis a vis this milestone that I hope you'll enjoy.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss  
(affiliate link)

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go...


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done...

But on you will gothough the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak...

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)...

What thoughts/comments does this post bring to your mind? What do you remember about your graduation? What do you like (or dislike) about Dr. Seuss' poem?

You May Also Enjoy:
I Graduated! (Almost)
Reflections About Termination in Therapy
Facing the Past as You Help Others Heal
Healing Yourself as You Heal Others
Career Advice from Editor of The New Social Worker
Career Advice from a Dean of a Graduate School of Social Work

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Best Tweets in Mental Health (wk of 9/19/11)

Below are the links that stood out for me this week. If I missed a wonderful link, please share it it in the comments section.

Social Work:

A Class on Diversity, Marginalization and Oppression
The Zen Social Worker

Not Being Able to Help Every One

Social Workers and the Magic Wand

What Makes a Social Work Supervisor “Great?”



Cookbook Counseling

“If You Need Anything, Just Call”–Support Fail!

Five Steps to Overcoming Your Fear of Failure

3 Creative Art Therapy Coping Strategies to Help Your Child with Depression

 How To Keep Your Cool with Competitive People

5 Ways to Stay Cool in the Face of Another’s Emotional Reactivity

Get Your Story Posted on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog

Guided Meditations

When Children’s Behaviors Scare Us – Connecting to Our Heart

Social Media/Podcasts:
Social Media Can Change HealthCare - Medicine 2.0 Conference Takeaway

Living Proof Episode 80 - Dr. Jeffrey Edleson: Domestic Violence in the Lives of Children (part 1 of 2)

Did any of these articles speak to you? If yes, which one(s) and in what way?

You May Also Enjoy:
Reflections about Thoughts, Feelings and the Law of Attraction
Thoughts on Mortality and Making Every Day Meaningful
Integrating Theory With Practice

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Unlearning with Jack Uldrich

Have you heard about the concept of unlearning?

According to Jack Uldrich, unlearning is a crucial skill to develop as part of the process of acquiring knowledge because some types of learning cannot occur until some unlearning has first taken place.

In Jack's latest book, Higher Unlearning: 39 Post-Requisite Lessons for Achieving a Successful Future (affiliate link), he defines unlearning as:

1. the act of releasing old knowledge
2. to see the world not as one would like to see it, but as it really is
3. to be un-uninformed4. to acquire wisdom either by replacing old information that has been supplanted by new knowledge, or alternatively, by relinquishing known falsehoods

With scientific and technical knowledge doubling every 7 years, unlearning is essentially a survival skill in today's rapidly changing world.

To underscore this point, Jack provides the analogy of how a modest unseen iceberg led to the downfall of the "unsinkable" Titanic and how there is the danger of future unknown "icebergs"(as in biotechnology, robotics, quantum physics, etc.) that may destroy the most "unsinkable" of industries.

However, he argues that leaders and organizations which possess the unlearning skill (and ability to change course quickly and often) are likely to be able to safely charter through the unknown waters.

Unlearning is a difficult skill to acquire. To help you get started down the path of unlearning, Jack provides in his book 39 lessons (one lesson per chapter). He also offers a homework exercise at the end of each lesson to allow you an opportunity to apply the lesson you just unlearned.

I enjoyed my first read but must confess that I didn't have the patience to actually do most of the prescribed homework exercises this time around. My plan is to re-read the book at a slower pace and then take the time to do them. I don't think you can fully absorb the unlearning component if you skip them.

Some examples of the lessons to learn (or unlearn) include:
  • Cast a Narrow Net
  • See What Isn't There
  • Zone Out to Zone In
  • Don't Reach for the Stars
  • Stop Looking for Patterns

As you might expect, engaging in these lessons will not only open you up to new learnings but increase your capacity to be more creative and innovative. In the process of unlearning, you start to question some of your assumptions, the beliefs or pieces of knowledge you just assumed to be true because they were once true...

And now, I'd like to introduce you to the author, Jack Uldrich, who is also a renowned global futurist, independent scholar and business speaker. Jack is also known as  @ChiefUnlearner on twitter and you may find him at his School of Unlearning site.

So without further ado, Jack, how did you become a global futurist and business innovator?

After college, I served as a naval intelligence officer and, later following graduate school, I returned to the Pentagon as a policy analyst and strategic planner. I then left federal government to become the director of the Office of Strategic Planning for the State of Minnesota. In this capacity, I began studying emerging technologies. 

What I soon discovered is that while the scientists and researchers working on these new technologies are incredibly bright, they aren’t so effective at explaining (in practical terms) what their science means to the average person. This insight lead me to a career as an author and futurist. I like to think of myself as a kind of “technology interpreter.”

How do you keep up with all the changes that are occurring in the different areas? What are some of the techniques you use to make projections about what our future may hold?

I read a great deal--blogs, articles and books. Two of my favorite resources are MIT’s Technology Review and the website, Both do an excellent job of staying abreast of emerging technologies. 

I also use various social networking tools to stay in touch with other people who are scouring the Internet for insights about the future. These individuals act as a filter of important news for me.

When/what made you realize the significance of unlearning? 

 I wish I could say I realized the significance of unlearning years ago but, really, it only occurred to me within the last five years. Years ago, the renowned futurist Alvin Toffler wrote, “The illiterate of the future won’t be those who can’t read or write, they’ll be those who can’t learn, unlearn and relearn.”

The more I reviewed my own life and the more I worked with clients, the more I realized that most individuals don’t have much trouble learning or relearning. They do, however, have significant issues with unlearning. I think this is because once a person has vested him or herself in the existing knowledge, it can be a difficult and painful thing to acknowledge what one once thought to be true is no longer so. 

Do you have any predictions as to where the mental health field may be 50 or 75 years from now?

I certainly can't--and won't--claim to have much knowledge about the field of mental health but I think it is important to always be aware of we don't yet know. For example, in the field of neuroscience, 95% of what we now know has been discovered in the past 20 years. This sounds impressive and indeed, it is; but it's worth noting that the pace of discovery isn't slowing down.

This means, in the future, we will know even more about the role the brain plays in mental health. Is it possible that some of this new knowledge will render our existing knowledge obsolete? From my perspective, it is not only likely; it is inevitable. The question then becomes will mental health experts stay open to the idea of constantly revisiting their assumptions?

How do you see the concept of unlearning being interpreted within the world of mental health?

I would hope the concept of unlearning would be welcome with open arms in the mental health community. Unfortunately, as someone far wiser than me once said, “Every mile you go in the wrong direction is actually a two-mile error. Unlearning is harder than learning.” 

My point is that no one--myself included--enjoys unlearning because it requires us to set aside knowledge that we spent a great deal of effort acquiring. But, if we want to constantly improve, it is a skill which we must all be open to and strive to become better at.

You suggest that we create an anti-resume as one of your homework assignments. Can you expand on that idea?

The idea of creating an "anti-resume"--a list of knowledge or skills that you don't possess--can be a powerful exercise because it will force you to acknowledge how little any of us actually knows. Embracing one's ignorance is a difficult and humbling idea, yet once you do, you are more likely to acknowledge the possibility that you will always need to be unlearning. 

Counter-intuitively, an anti-resume can also make you more intellectually curious and open-minded. And, in today's ever accelerating and changing world, these are skills that will always be in demand.

Thanks so much, Jack, for providing us with this fascinating glimpse of unlearning and how it may apply within the mental health field!

What are your comments and/or thoughts regarding the process of unlearning? Do you agree that this is an important skill to develop?

You May Also Enjoy:
10 Take-Aways from Workshop on Neuroscience, Meditation & Health
Innovation in Social Work
Brainstorming Ideas

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of the book mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 LMSW Exam Practice Questions

Would you like to have a look at some practice questions to help you prepare for your LMSW  (ASWB) exam?

Below are 10 questions that we went over during a review class at my school:

1. A fifteen year old girl has been sent home from school on three occasions for drinking alcohol at school. Each time, the mother becomes angry and threatens to punish the girl but is convinced by the father to give her another chance. Which of the following BEST characterizes the father's behavior in this situation?

a. triangulation
b. enabling
c. advocating
d. manipulating

2. Parents continually refuse to communicate with their child who is in a residential treatment facility. The social worker should FIRST:

a. respect the parent's need for separation by not contacting them
b. request that the child be discharged
c. contact the parents about the child's placement
d. assess the child's response to the parents' actions

3. Common indicators of sexual, physical and emotional abuse include all of the following EXCEPT:

a. violence against younger children
b. sexualized behavior
c. isolation
d. stuttering

4. The concept of gender roles is BEST defined as:

a. attitudes and behaviors attached to individuals because of their sex
b. an individual's sex orientation and/or preference
c. biological characteristics that influence an individual's behavior
d. interplay of biological and sociocultural influences

5. Which type of interviewing question is MOST likely to generate client defensiveness?

a. open ended
b. closed
c. leading
d. why

6. When interviewing a client whose speech patterns are different from the social worker's, the social worker's PRIMARY consideration should be that:

a. communication patterns vary due to economic conditions
b. speech is influenced by culture and experience
c. psychosocial conditions will cause variations in speech
d. speech is influenced by group taboos and norms and may indicate false beliefs

7. The initial symptoms of schizophrenia MOST often occur between which of the following years of age?

a. 6 to 12
b. 13 to 16
c. 17 to 45
d. 16 to 60

8. Which of the following approaches would be MOST appropriate to use in evaluating client satisfaction with the social worker's provision of services?

a. using a single system design, evaluate the quality of services
b. in the final interview, ask the client about their level of satisfaction
c. after submitting process recordings, ask supervisor for feedback
d. at termination, ask clients to complete a service evaluation and satisfaction form

9. When conducting an assessment of the risk factors of child abuse for a child of a different ethnic background, a social worker must FIRST:

a. be aware of how personal cultural biases affect the social worker's ability to deal with issues of diversity
b. realize that assessment models are not a substitute for clinical judgment or experience
c. use a strengths' perspective rather than a deficit model to form a partnership with the child's family
d. understand the need for appropriate eye contact, tone of voice and question techniques during the assessment

10. A social worker is receiving a client with long-standing depression. It becomes known that the client has racist beliefs. The social worker should:

a. respectfully confront the client's prejudiced beliefs
b. educate the client about the negative effects of racism
c. refer the client to another therapist who might have similar belief
d. respect the client's beliefs and focus on the presenting problem

1. b 2. d 3. d 4. a 5. d 6. b 7. c 8. d 9. a 10. d

I'm hoping that you found looking these questions over helpful.

Have you recently taken the exam? If yes, how did it go? And do you have any lessons learned and/or tips to share?

You May Also Enjoy:
10 More LMSW Exam Practice Questions
Got LMSW Exam Anxiety? 4 Strategies + 10 Practice Questions
The New Social Worker: 10 Questions About the ASWB Exams 
Summer, Graduation and the LMSW Exam
The Two Acronyms You Must Know for the LMSW Exam

Photo Credit: Krikit

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Social Work Abroad

You may think that social work in the United States and the United Kingdom is identical but actually that's not true…

To get a glimpse of what are some of the similarities and differences about social work, I had the pleasure of interviewing cb who is a social worker in the U.K. 

cb is also an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) and a Best Interests Assessor (BIA). Some of you may already know cb by her moniker @monstertalk or her very well-known blog Fighting Monsters.

So without further ado, cb, what type of work did you do before you became a social worker?   

I'll go back a little way to explain how I got into this 'field'. After I graduated from my BA, I had difficulty finding a job so I did some long-term voluntary work with adults with learning disabilities in residential care. 

After that, I got a job in the field that what we would call a 'support worker'. I worked in small residential care homes for adults with moderate learning disabilities and the focus on the work was about independent living.

It was just after there was a large government move away from large residential care homes and hospitals for this user group so we worked with people who had been discharged from these large 'institutions'. The work involved everything from assisting with hands on personal care to supporting with social activities, preparing meals and cooking. 

I worked in that setting for about 5 years. I loved it but I felt I needed to 'move on'. I continued working in the same care home while I was doing my social work training to earn the money to keep me through the course. London isn't a cheap place to live!
What made you decide to become a social worker? And how long a process is that in the U.K.? Is it a two-year Master’s program as it is in the United States?  
After working in residential care, I really wanted to 'move on'. A lot of people were quite dismissive of my choice of work as well and I felt under pressure to start my 'career' as I knew I didn't want to move into management. 

I came into contact with social workers through my work as they would make placements and review placements in the homes I worked in and I thought it would be a way to progress my career without moving into management which I was sure I didn't want to do!

It also helped my decision making that the Masters was fully funded through the bursaries. The route to qualification as a postgraduate is through a two years Masters program.

The other route into social work in the UK is through an undergraduate degree. In effect, for the purposes of work, it doesn't make much difference to employers whether someone qualifies through the Master's route or the Bachelor's route.
We also have an undergraduate degree path into social work but someone with an undergraduate degree would not be qualified to do all the work that a social worker with a master’s degree could...  In the U.K., are you saying that an undergraduate social worker has equal opportunities for advancement as the graduate social worker? 
Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.
How long have you been working as a social worker? And could you describe your current position?
I qualified in 2000 but I've spent a couple of years since then doing other things. Since I qualified, most of my social work experience has been with older adults but I've also worked with younger adults with physical disabilities.

Currently, I work in a specialist mental health team for adults with age-related mental health difficulties. This includes different types of dementias, but also late onset depression, psychosis and schizophrenia. 

The team I work in is multidisciplinary so we have social workers, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, mental health nurses and psychiatrists. We all work alongside each other to try and provide a service that meets the different needs of those who have specific needs around their mental health care. 

I have a lot of tasks! Primarily my work is about 'care co-ordination' or case management so we are allocated to individuals to look at the ways we can move towards recovery.

It might be about linking in with other community resources for social engagement or providing and organizing care in the home. 

We work with families and carers (caregivers) and use a social model as best we can to provide support to particular government standards and targets. We also would monitor any changes in someone's mental state and serve as a link between the doctors and the individual and refer back to our medical team frequently.

I also work with people who are being discharged from hospitals (both general hospitals and psychiatric hospitals) and arrange and plan services that might be needed to support them at home or, when necessary, arrange placements in nursing or residential homes. 

I'm also an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP). This is an additional and specific role I have under the Mental Health Act (1983) that means that I have certain powers and duties with respect to making applications for someone who might need to be subject to compulsory hospital admissions or treatments for mental health disorders. 

It is seen as a very important role because I have powers to potentially commit someone to hospital for up to six months.  That's a very simplistic explanation but a more detailed and precise explanation would probably go on for another 5000 words! So sometimes my role at work is to carry out these specific assessments and commit someone by compulsion for mental health assessment or treatment.  

(In general, this is not something that an American social worker would have the authority to do. The laws for involuntary commitment to a mental health institution vary from state to state; however, even the psychiatrist in the emergency room tends to only have the authority to hold a person up to 72 hours involuntarily. To be able to hold a person for a longer period, the psychiatrist would need to obtain a judge's approval. Source: Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders)

I am also able to apply to a magistrate's court for a warrant to enter a property if we would not otherwise be able to access the person whom we are concerned about. For these particular assessments, as the AMHP, I would arrange them and coordinate the doctors (I need two doctors’ recommendations to make the applications), ambulance, police presence (if necessary) and liaise with the hospital regarding bed availability.
In order to undertake the role of an AMHP you have to undertake an additional postgraduate level course and keep up regular training annually (in addition to that which you need to complete as a registered social worker). 

I am also a Best Interests Assessor (BIA) which is another specific statutory role under the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and that allows me to carry out particularly specified independent assessments of people who lack capacity and make decisions about the appropriateness or not of detaining someone in a residential care home or hospital if they lack the capacity to make a decision to be there and are being 'deprived of their liberty'.

What are the aspects that you find most rewarding in your work?
Without doubt, the best thing about the work is when you are able to discharge someone and feel that they no longer need the service that we offer. Because I often work very closely with individuals and their families we get great satisfaction from seeing the improvement and seeing that we can see people move on.

And what are the parts that you find most challenging?  

I hate using the compulsory powers that I have to remove someone from home and detain him/her in the hospital for an assessment or treatment. It can be very distressing, particularly if we need the support of the police.

I often think it's not what I thought I'd be doing when I decided to become a social worker but I only do that if I am absolutely sure that it needs to be done and of course, we are bound by the law in the way that we can (quite rightly) act but even if you know the alternatives will be tragic, it is still horrible to have to do that. 

Moving onto another topic, you had once mentioned (in an offline talk we had) that social workers in the U.K. are not permitted to provide therapy in a private practice mode as they are in the U.S. - Could you expand on that? 

I should perhaps explain a little better what I meant in our previous discussion. Social workers can do some kinds of therapies but they would be expected to do additional specific training and be registered by a regulator as such.

Qualifying as a social worker or registering as a social worker does not give an individual 'enough' to have a private practice. I do know some social workers who have gone on to undertake specific training in psychoanalysis but they practice as therapists on the basis of their subsequent training and not by virtue of being 'social workers'.

It isn't so much a rule against providing therapy so much as a rule that the social work qualification alone is not 'enough'. If you consider that clinical psychologists need many years of study and a PhD to practice, a 2 years masters course in social work which is a generic course is not going to be enough. 

What type of additional training would a social worker need to be qualified to provide therapy in the U.K.? (See Social Work Licensing Part I and Part II to see requirements in the U.S.)

It is a completely separate training 'route' to be a counselor in the U.K. You can do that as well as being a social worker but you don't have to be a social worker to do that. I believe it's a three year path to that qualification as well.
There are shorter courses that we might do to provide specific training in specific aspects of counseling such as CBT specifically or systemic therapy but for 'going it alone,' you have to do the full program. 

How would you define the role of a social worker in the U.K.? (In the U.S., social workers typically provide varying degrees of case management and/or therapeutic interventions depending on setting and specific role.)

As for the role of social work in the UK beyond 'therapy,' it is massive. Case management is primarily what we would do in adult services in the public sector but there are broader roles in settings like hospices where there would be more therapeutic input (with additional training). I have never worked in children’s services so I can't comment specifically about what they do. 

Another question I have in this area is whether the additional training rule applies for social workers throughout Europe or does each country within Europe set its own rules?

Different countries have different set ups as far as social work is concerned. As far as I understand, there is a similar set up in the Republic of Ireland. I believe that social work in Europe tends to be much more closely linked to public sector work in Europe than it generally seems to be, to me, in the States. 

To us, the thought of there being a 'private' social worker seems very unusual.  We do though have laws that allow freedom of movement and recognition of qualifications across Europe so a Portuguese qualified Social Worker would be able to work in the UK, just as I would be able to work in Greece or Italy (theoretically anyway).   

An additional interesting difference between how things are in the social work field in the U.S. vs. the U.K. is that you had mentioned having to study various laws every few years. Could you please expand on that – what types of laws and for what reason?  

The legal update training mainly relates to my roles as an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) and as a Best Interests Assessor (BIA) because those are specific statutory functions. 

For the AMHP role, I have to complete at least 5 days of training per year regarding legal updates. In the BIA role, there is an expectation of 3 days for legal updates, as well as regular workshops and forums for both roles. 

This is because, particularly with the AMHP role, we have a function which impacts significantly on an individuals' human rights and when we act to apply for the detention of a person we have to be very clear on the legal terms by which we can do this.
Case law develops very quickly so we need to be up to date. 

Often the doctors rely on us to know the law and advise them about this. We have to be re-approved every 5 years and this involves a legal exam. The laws specifically are the ones relating to Mental Health and Mental Capacity. 

Moving onto another topic, you recently wrote a post about wanting to see some sort of social media forum created for social workers throughout the world. Could you recap what you were envisioning and how people could get involved?

It's in its very early stages but I see Online Technology 4 Occupational Therapy as a model and particularly their virtual learning exchange I'd love to see a similar project for social work and copying shamelessly from their name, I set up a SW4SW site

There isn't much there yet, but I'm currently using it to test different software packages to see if I can find what I like and to establish a forum to share ideas which anyone is welcome to join at 

I don't really have any great desires to 'run' it but I would like to see more discussion and innovation in collaborative working for the benefit of social work knowledge and education. 

If someone else wants to pick up the idea and run with it, I'd be more than happy but I thought, rather than wait for someone else to come along, why not try and get started and at least find a place to have these discussions. 

Finally, let's talk a bit about your blog. When did you first start it and do you have any specific aspirations?

The first post in my blog was in November 2007 but I only really started writing regularly in April 2008. I had absolutely no aspirations. I remember being really excited by getting 12 views in the first few months. I think I had fewer than 10 views in the first 4 months.
For me, it was about creating the type of blog I wanted to read. I read blogs but at that point there were very few social work blogs and I couldn't find any other UK social work blogs so I started to write one.

Also, you have chosen a rather unusual name @monstertalk and avatar (see cute hamster above). Could you share with us how and why you came up with these? 

Ah yes. Well, we need to work backwards on this. The name of the blog came first 'Fighting Monsters' and it is from the Nietzsche quote 'Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one' - it is an adage that has long stuck with me from my first work in mental health but I've related to it in different ways. 

We used to joke that those who work in mental health sometimes are not the most 'well adjusted' people in the world. I took the quote as a warning to myself that I should always be aware of what the 'monsters' that I am fighting are - namely the stigma and distress of mental illness and a warning that I shouldn't become a part of the problem rather than the solution. 

Remember when I started writing the blog, I wasn't expecting an audience and was writing for myself. That's very apparent if you look at my early posts. 
The Twitter name @monstertalk was an attempt to link the name to the blog although I guess many people see me on Twitter and have no idea the blog exists - it was my very basic attempt at 'branding' (I've been reading blogs about blogging for too long!) - but it is memorable! 

As for the hamster, well, being anonymous, I can't put a picture of me as an avatar. I had various cat avatars for a while but then I wanted to be different. That hamster is one that belonged to one of our foster kids and I think it's quite a cute picture!

Thanks so much, cb, for providing us with this interesting glimpse of social work in the U.K., as well as for your efforts on starting to create an international online forum for social workers :)

As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and comments. Your feedback is most appreciated!

You May Also Enjoy:
The New Social Worker: An American Social Worker in London  
The Social Work Podcast: So You Want To Work Abroad?  

Photo Credits: Scenes of London by My husband (who has asked to be anonymous)

Sept 12, 2011 addendum: cb has closed down both her monstertalk twitter account and fighting monsters website.

Sept 30, 2011 addendum: cb wrote a Goodbye post on her site. I've included a copy of this within the comments section for your viewing because her site will only be open for a short time.

April, 2014 addendum: cb is writing again :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

4 Nuggets from Yalom’s “The Gift of Therapy”

Have you read the book  The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (P.S.) by Irvin Yalom?

The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (P.S.)
I loved this book because it has so many wonderful gems of therapeutic wisdom.

Four nuggets of advice you may appreciate:

Be Authentic and Admit to Mistakes

When you make a mistake with a client, acknowledge it. According to Yalom, any attempt at covering the error up will only backfire because the client will ultimately sense that you are not being upfront with her/him. Hence, it will have a negative impact on the therapy.

Conversely, admitting to the error is setting a positive role model for the client and an indication that he/she matters to you (an important ingredient of a good therapeutic relationship).

Develop "Here and Now" Rabbit Ears

It is important to develop "here and now" rabbit ears because the interpersonal problems of a client will inevitably appear within the here and now of the therapeutic relationship.

To illustrate, if a client is demanding or judgmental or maladaptive interpersonally in another way, the client will exhibit these traits in his/her relationship with the therapist.

What To Do When Your Client Is Crying

Contrary to what you do as a friend (attempt to console and help your friend regain control and stop crying), Yalom recommends that a therapist encourage the client to plunge deeper so as to assist the client in exploring their emotions.

Yalom eloquently suggests asking the client, "If your tears had a voice, what would they be saying?"

Beware of Professional Hazards

Isolation is one professional hazard. Therapists often neglect their personal lives; our work becomes our life. Living with the possibility of a patient committing suicide and a malpractice lawsuit are two additional stresses that are rather catastrophic.

To avoid being alone and having some support in addressing these issues, Yalom recommends that therapists participate in weekly or once every other week group meetings with other therapists.

There are many additional sage pieces of advice that you may wish to follow and/or read....

Do any of the four nuggets that I've described speak to you? What thoughts/comments come to your mind?

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