Saturday, October 29, 2011

Best Tweets in Mental Health (10/24/2011)

                  I'm watching twitter, google+ and the web so you don't have to...

This post is part of a weekly series, Best Tweets in Mental Health, featuring the best posts of the week, in social work, psychology, mindfulness, pain management, incorporating social media in nonprofits, and private practice on Social Work Career Development.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Exploring Career Paths in Social Work

Days in the Lives of Social Workers - Book Review

Are you thinking about entering the world of social work? Or are considering a different role within the field? Or are just curious about what social workers in other fields of practice or settings do?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, I highly recommend that you read the book "Days in the Lives of Social Workers" because you will find it an invaluable resource. This book contains true stories of what a typical day is like for 58 professional social workers working in a variety of roles and settings.


The fifteen main topic areas and/or settings covered are:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Best Tweets in Mental Health (wk of 10/17/2011)

                  I'm watching twitter, google+ and the web so you don't have to...

This post is part of a weekly series, Best Tweets in Mental Health, featuring the best posts of the week, in social work, psychology, mindfulness, and private practice on Social Work Career Development.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Social Worker Pay By Setting, Practice & Region

One question that often comes up is whether there is an advantage (or disadvantage) to working in a particular setting or practice area in terms of the amount of income that you would earn as a social worker. The answer is that it depends...

The median base annual salary for a social worker is $55,000, according to a 2009 study commissioned by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) (results of which were released in May 2010); however, there are indeed variations in compensation by setting type, practice area and region.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Best Tweets in Mental Health (wk of 10/10/2011)

                 Below are select articles in social work, psychology, private practice, as well as the links to two webinars (addressing chronic pain and stress) to help you start off your week.

Based upon reader feedback, I've modified the format of this weekly round-up to provide you with more of a feeling of what is covered in each of the posts. I hope you like it :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Two Acronyms You Must Know for the LMSW Exam

As I am going through the process of preparing for the LMSW exam, I've come across two tools that you will find most helpful.

These are two acronyms that will help guide you through the process of selecting your response among the choices offered and are well-worth memorizing (whether you are studying for the LMSW or LCSW exam).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

20 Interview Questions Every Social Worker Needs to Know

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success." - Alexander Graham Bell
As Alexander Graham Bell so eloquently states in this quote, preparation is critical and this definitely holds true with respect to the interviewing process.

There are 20 interview questions that every social worker should be prepared to answer, as well as an additional 9 questions that may or may not be applicable to you depending on what type of position you are seeking.

Please note that the updated version of this post is 40 Interview Questions Every Social Worker Needs to Know but before you leave, make sure to check out the Q & A exchange in the comments below.

  • Why have you selected a career in social work?
  • How is your previous experience applicable to the work we do here?
  • Have you had the experience of working with people of a race or sexual orientation different from yours? (be able to articulate how culture impacts our work re: abuse/neglect/prevention/ intervention etc.)
  • What do you hope to accomplish as a social worker?
  • What do you judge to be your major successes or accomplishments in your fieldwork? How did you achieve these?
  • What major disappointments/failures have you had in fieldwork? Or
  • Knowing what you know now, is there something you would do differently in the management of one of your fieldwork cases?

Assessment of Skills/Technique 
  • Are you sensitive?  Are you intuitive?
  • Are you an active listener?  Are you able to engage clients?
  • How do you describe your personal boundaries?
  • What kinds of things go into a psychological assessment?
  • Do you believe in short term or long-term treatment?
  • How do you handle termination?
  • Think of a client you have liked/disliked and tell me how you dealt with the counter transference issues.

Personality/Working Style/Other
  • This position requires a lot of independent thinking and initiative.  There is minimal supervision.  Could you handle that?
  • Would you rather draw up plans and design a program or be responsible for implementing a program?  Why?
  • How would your weaknesses interfere with your ability to do this job?
  • What kinds of problems do you like to handle?  Can you give me an example.
  • What do you think is going to happen in the field in the next five years?
  • Are you a member of any professional organizations?

For those of you going after a position in a school setting, make sure to check out  Got School Social Work Interview? 21 Questions to Answer for some specific questions tailored for the educational arena.

May/May Not Apply Depending on Position Type
  • Do you feel you can be objective in counseling a teen about abortion?
  • What do you think of the welfare system?
  • What do you think of the recent welfare changes?
  • What are your thoughts on managed care?
  • What techniques do you use in crisis intervention work?
  • How would you handle a psychotic outburst in the clinic waiting room?
  • In terms of family therapy, what is your theoretical orientation?
  • Are you prepared to make home visits? 
  • What are the risk assessment/signs of abuse/neglect?

Based upon my readings, I've learned that it's a good idea to put together 2-3 stories in which you solved a problem at work and 2-3 stories in which you have learned some lessons on the job. 

Having prepared these stories, in turn, will help you answer behavioral interviewing type questions that may get thrown your way. 

When drafting your responses to situational questions, it is recommended to use a Problem, Action, Result approach; i.e., describe the action you took and then the result. 

Finally, once you've completed your stories, write out in the margin the personality characteristics that you feel your stories illustrate. 
This way, you are likely to have some stories prepared for when you are asked to describe a situation with a particular strength.

For those of you who have gone on interviews already, do these questions look like ones you've been asked? What else would you add? 

Comments have been closed; please feel free to ask any questions you may have on the updated post 40 Interview Questions Every Social Worker Needs to Know

You May Also Enjoy:
3 Key Resources to Jumpstart Your Jobsearch
The ABCs of Getting a Strong Letter of Recommendation
How to Tame Your Job Interview Anxiety Once And For All !

Photo credit: Light Crystals by Patrick Hoesly
Reference: Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter 
Note: I extracted the typical and toughest questions from Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter and reorganized them by topic or skill set as shown above.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Technology Tools for Clinical Practice

Are you interested in applying some technology tools in your clinical work with clients?

To learn more about the application of tech tools within the mental health field, I reached out to Ignacio Pacheco, MSW (also known as Iggy). Iggy is the editor and creator of the Social Work Tech Blog, a blog dedicated to integrating technology tools in practice.

Iggy, Could you share with us what made you decide to become a social worker?

I saw "Lilo and Stitch" and was inspired to be like Cobra Bubbles, the social worker...

Actually, I spent a summer in Detroit, MI as an intern union organizer and I was driving to different caregiver homes to recruit them. They didn't train the interns and I made the most of my experience by engaging with those whose homes I visited and listening to their stories about how they were not being fairly compensated by the state for their hard work. As my introduction to social justice, it was both uplifting and sad.

I am a social worker because I believe in social and economic justice. Quiet frankly, injustice makes me angry but I believe that this energy helps to feed my passion in the work that I do. I like being a social worker because I like connecting with people and using my skills and knowledge to help clients empower themselves to make the best of their situations.

Based upon your Social Work Tech Blog, you seem to be particularly interested in the application of technology with social work practice. Were you always fond of technology? When/how did this interest first start?

I think I've always been a fan of technology and music - they were both intertwined. In middle school, I was the geek with the Walkman (cassettes!!!). In high school, I had a livejournal and a separate blog on Geocities that served as my listing page when I was a part of the tape-trading community for Phish and Dave Mathews shows. The various music list-serves were as meaningful to me as Twitter is now.

As for technology tools, I was blown away by the first iPod and bought my first devise in its third iteration and I spent many nights of my college career curating and acquiring my music and media collection.

When the iPhone was introduced, I immediately saw the potential of awesomeness that came from carrying a mini-computer in one's pocket. As that devise evolved and Apple allowed for developers to develop apps (i.e., software), the potential for being creative and delivering information simply exploded.

When the iPad was introduced, I had a similar reaction: Hitler's angry reaction to the iPad . I warmed up to the fact that many developers who had made awesome apps on iPhone were going to make full-size optimized iPad apps. Apple has done a good job luring and supporting the creativity of developers. As evidenced by my blog, I love the apps on iOS devices.

What would you say are the 5 most useful tools for clinical work that you have found to date?

5. Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness Meditation has helped me to stay grounded and address some of my own challenges. I took a course offered by my place of employment and it changed my life. I try to instill the practice into my clients.

After introducing my clients to mindfulness meditation and concepts such as being grounded, present and allowing thoughts to flutter away, I find that that they react as I have - cleansed. I rely on the Simply Being five-minute meditation application to lead my clients in meditation and if the clients have bought in to the intervention, they have all reported a significantly lower anxiety level.

4. Instapaper: I use this free service on the go to read articles later that you or other people post on Twitter that I can't read at the moment I am using Twitter. There are wonderful articles that I stumble over (and many of which, you share, Dorlee) that I *have* to read later!

4. Evernote: I love using Evernote to forever save articles that I enjoy reading. Sometimes I make those articles into handouts for my clients. I also use it to take notes and to plan out other aspects of my life, social work related or not. Every part of my personal and professional development is on Evernote so that if my house burns down, they are out in the cloud externally.

3. Pages (iPad app), Keynote (iPad app) and GoodReader: I use all three of these apps for psychoeducation. Pages allows one to make very good handouts (see: Evernote), Keynote to make psychoeducational presentations (e.g. for Domestic Violence, boundary development, anger management), and GoodReader to hold some of my other multimedia files (such as video) to enhance my therapy sessions (e.g. I have a movie on Domestic Violence and Trauma).

2. YouTube: A great resource to find psychoeducation on various topics. The other day, I pulled up a cartoon to help a client understand Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which was something my client described in a loved one. There are other good tools that social workers can use to normalize, validate or empower their clients.

1. Twitter: I wish more social workers would embrace Twitter. For me, linking up to various entities (e.g. @NAMICommunicate, @PsychologyToday, @twola) and people (You, @DorleeM, @DrHubaEvaluator, @njsmyth, @LovEternal) really empowers me to validate the work that I am doing and makes me want to work harder to empower others in the work that they do.

What is your current position and what do you enjoy most about it? 

I have two positions. I am a transitional case manager at a local homeless agency and a clinical social worker (i.e., brief-therapy psychotherapist) at a college campus. Both allow me to be creative in formulating meaningful interventions for the purposes of psychoeducation and skill building.

I absolutely love my clinical job, as I have very supportive and strong women shaping me into the leader I want to be. My non-supervisor colleagues are very wonderful people to learn from as well.

What aspect(s) of your work do you find most challenging?

What is most challenging for me is managing my time. I have decided that I am going to take care of myself and not put undue stress on myself for my other creative endeavors. What this means is less frequent updates to SocialWorkTech Blog.

The problem I find with updating the site is that I want to hit a home run every time I update it. I have been using Evernote to document my ideas and have been slowly developing pieces that then get the full blog post treatment.get the full blog-post treatment.

It is quite commendable that you are already fully employed. Many of my peers who graduated in May are still looking for work. What job search advice would you offer to recent graduates looking for employment?

There is a quote that I saw in Tim Feriss' new book that goes "For a long time, I've known that the key to getting started down the path of being remarkable in anything is to simply act with the intention of being remarkable". I wrote it down in my personal journal and reflect on it from time to time. I believe that this mantra is what helped me to land a job when looking.

To me, being remarkable means using your strengths for good, honoring yourself, being modest, and being ethical. I'm sorry for going back to my website, but what makes me unique in the field (for better or for worse) is the way I use technology to try to help others.

If it means pulling out my iPad because I have a killer PDF in my Social Work Tool Box/Kit, putting in a bunch of hours into a psychoeducation (my favorite!) presentation, and putting many hours of thought into the ethical considerations surrounding a concept that I am teaching my colleagues (through my site) about the awesome things I am doing, then I am happy. My current employers both saw the passion and dedication I have to both, the field and aspects of myself that apply to the field. 

So my advice to recent graduates is to find your passion, follow it, and no matter how crazy/radical people think you are, you will be in the right place when you have colleagues that embrace your passion.

Thanks so much, Iggy, for sharing with us some of your tech secrets of the trade :)  You may wish to follow Iggy @SWTechBlog for additional great technology-related information. Also, take a peek at his Digital Resume. It's a terrific example of what an upcoming graduating (or recently graduated) social worker may want to put together for their job search.

What questions/comments do you have on the application of technology tools to clinical practice? Have you thought and/or used any of the tools suggested?

You May Also Enjoy:
A Talk about Upward Mobility and Technology in Social Work
Innovation in Social Work
10 Take-Aways from Workshop on Neuroscience, Meditation & Health
Unlearning with Jack Uldrich
Finding technology’s role in the counseling relationship (Counseling Today)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Best Tweets in Mental Health (wk of 9/26/11)

Below are the interesting posts that stood out this week... However, if I omitted a link that is noteworthy, please share it it in the comments section.

Social Work:

A Checklist: The Cost of Racism & Privilege
@N_A_H_Blog (Relando Thompkins)

British Journal of Social Work: Special issue 2013 
- invite submission of applications to act as guest editor(s)

"Fill My Coffee Cup"- My Homeless Patient Case

Honor Our Voices - online learning module providing you with the opportunity to see domestic violence through the eyes and voices of children

Social work needs more research so it’s not left out in the cold
@mgoat73 (Martin Webber)

The “how” matters. A lot.

Who Are the People (with Mental Illness) In Your Neighbourhood?
Going Mental


7 Steps to Making Real Change Last
@Mindful_Living (Elisha Goldstein)

Ten Reasons I Didn't Tell (about sexual abuse)

The Difference Between Stigmatizing Mental Illness and Labeling it
@thethirdsunrise (Natalie J Champagne)

Why Psychotherapy Works: Its Effect on Brain Biology 

You Have the Power And You Are Not A Victim

Mindfulness, Meditation and Neuroscience:

Ten Mindful Ways to Use Social Media

Practicing Mindfulness for Busy People

Seeking Strength, Seeking God
Mindful Torah

Social Media/Videos/Webinars:

Building a Business for Social Good with Brian Johnson [Interview]

Social Good Summit : Day 2 : Geena Davis, Paula Kerger, Abigail Disney & Asi Burak
Women and Girls Lead: Where Storytelling, Gaming & Public Media Converge (there are more clips)

Employment/Private Practice:

How to Get a Job in the Non-Profit Sector

Shifting from Insurance-based, to Full-fee

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

You May Also Enjoy:
Best Tweets for Mental Health Professionals (wk of 9/19/11)
The Things We Take for Granted
Parallel Processes, Boundaries & Authenticity
Online Therapy: A New Frontier
Online Therapy and the Use of Technology