This is because your thoughts add so much interesting content and value to the blog posts that I wanted to take the time to acknowledge them.
And if you are new to the Social Work Career Development site, reading through these comments can give you an idea of the wide range of topics covered in 2012 from career management, continuing education and licensure exam tips to social worker safety, sexual abuse, art/music therapy, meditation and more.
Please note that these responses are listed in chronological order, with the most recent ones appearing first.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I did :)
Jackie said on... Coping with Grief and Loss
Dear Dorlee, Per Robert Frost, "Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." You have certainly done that in this very touching post. My heart is with you during this time. Please take care, JackieSharon S said on... 50 Shades of Pain
Excellent post Dorlee! You describe this well and how dissociation becomes a survival mechanism. I've seen this in my work and how the abuse has affected them on such a core level. Shame, embarrassment, and even love/hate for the abuser has to be reconciled. Above all else, it is the abuser who is responsible for their actions- no child asks to be abused.Julie from Denver said on... How to Use Two Acronyms to "Go for the Gold" on the LMSW Exam!
I'm pretty sure FAREAFI was the most useful advice/tool I had for the test... Just took it yesterday after a week of studying, and I passed!!! Thank you Dorlee, for for sharing all of your wisdom concerning the clinical licensure test! Most helpful site I've found :)Martha M. Crawford, LCSW said on... 50 Shades of Secrets
I have never seen toxic secrets as described here, ever successfully, protectively kept - and when they do emerge, the effects are far more explosive and destructive than the disturbing truth would have been at the appropriate time. We see these issues emerging in the adoption community constantly, adult adoptees uncover information, kept from them by parents or by adoption agencies, that when it does emerge, it carries extraordinary resentment from the dishonesty that attends the secret.
Secrets are different from privacy. Privacy is to set boundaries and guard our own wounds. Privacy is a consciously stated boundary. "I would prefer not to talk about that because that feels personal and private to me and is very difficult for me to speak of" is very different than negating other people's perceptions: "Everything is fine!"- such secrets are crazy making because they undermines other's intuition and instincts. Privacy is claimed explicitly and openly. Secrecy is hidden.
Mike Langlois, LICSW said on... What Every Social Worker Needs to Know About Financial Self-Care
One other brief caveat: for children, it's important that difficult information be truthful, but age-appropriate - Kids are quite good at dropping the subject or getting distracted when they have heard enough - and to press past their defenses to offer up the whole truth at one fell swoop is burdensome and overwhelming. Kids often need to take a piece in at a time, and, respecting that is also different from "keeping a secret." Thanks for a lovely post on an interesting subject!
Reeta and Dorlee, thanks for this. I am sending this ASAP to my current and recently graduated supervisees. I make it a point to talk about money with them consistently in our supervisions and in the classes I teach. Every semester I hear students lament how they have gone through graduate school without anyone ever mentioning money or having a business plan! I usually tie this disconnect to our discussion of gender and how social work as a largely female profession has often re-enacted the paradigm women have encountered in their work and money lives: Be silent, don't ask for money, and be grateful for what you're given.
As a male social worker I feel that part of my being an ally is to share the more privileged attitudes I was taught as a man: Speak up, you're worth a lot, and go out there and knock 'em dead in your work. I try to correct folks gently when they call social work a "female-dominated profession," because there is a big difference between higher numbers of women in our profession, and domination vis a vis power. Men in social work tend to have an easier time getting hired, command higher salaries, and advance more quickly than our female colleagues, and that is domination and privilege in my book.
Reeta, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the relationship between money and ambition, and issues you see arise from that relationship.Laurel Wiig, PH.D., MFT said on... What Every Social Worker Needs to Know About Financial Self-Care
This was a much needed post for me to read right right now. And although, I feel the post has actually has helped me, I am wondering how does an MFT work with only financial issues with a client? Isn't it out of scope of practice?
I have a client that I am really struggling with right now because when the client talks about financial issues, I always feel the need to focus in on the connection with his relationships (children, dating, etc.) instead of financial matters because MFT's are required to work within the confines of a relationship issue. I have thought that discussing a budget would be completely out of scope of practice, just as discussing a diet with a client would be.
I understand different psychology disciplines (LCSW's, MFT's, Ph.D, etc) are able to work with different issues. However, I have really been struggling with this because it has become more clear to me that my client only wants to discuss financial matters. As I mentioned, I am comfortable talking about financials with a client as long as they relate to relationships, but I have recently been feeling like a referral to a money coach is much needed in this particular case and that it is becoming out of my scope of practice.
Could you please help me to understand how an MFT could ethically work with financial issues? How might I continue to work with this particular client under my license? And when it is appropriate to refer due to out of scope of practice? I very much appreciate this! Thank you.Tamara G. Suttle said on... How to Manage Your Career When Unemployed
Dorlee, I was talking about you today to one of my colleagues . . . . Were your ears burning? And, then I came home to find that you had included me again in your Best in Mental Health for the week. So . . . I realized I'd been away from your blog too long and dropped in here and . . . you've blown me away again! Your generosity and your transparency leave me in awe. Thank you for consistently and earnestly showing the best of social work by modeling it yourself. You are everything that your employer will want and need . . . . When the time is right . . . your journey will take you there. And, in the mean time . . . if there is anything I can do to support you on your way, please do not hesitate to ask. My path wasn't a straight path either, but in hindsight, like someone above said, those "detours" aren't really detours at all! They ARE the paths that we have undertaken and when looking back . . . they make total sense our of our journeys. Blessings to you on yours, Dorlee!Mozart said on... Best in Mental Health (wk of 8/27/2012)
Great list, Dorlee - I found the post on twitter + former clients incredibly interesting. I think an unforeseen consequence of our connected world is how we negotiate our personal and professional selves on these social networks in a way that serves both our clients and our right to personal and professional privacy. I love your curation! :)Deona Hooper said on... Twitter Chats for Mental Health Professionals
I have talked with a lot of people who are interested in having a #socialwork chat with a USA focus. Socialworkhelper.com will be taking on the task of moderating a weekly chat using the #socialworkh hashtag. The format is currently being developed not just to engage, but also collect data for those interested in further investigation. Feel free to add your opinion before the debate format has been finalized. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke.Andrea B. Goldberg, LCSW said on... Exploring Alice Miller's "The Drama of the Gifted Child"
Dear Dorlee, Alice Miller's early 1980's version of the book was one of the early influences in my path to becoming a trauma therapist. Mike's point about different uses of the word trauma is well taken. There is a big difference between adult traumatic stress reactions and early childhood trauma. Judith Lewis Herman, author of the classic book "Trauma and Recovery", introduced the concept of complex PTSD to encompass all aspects of the diagnostic picture of survivors of chronic childhood abuse and neglect.
The categories of symptoms include: alterations in emotional regulation, alterations in consciousness (flashbacks and dissociation), changes in self-perception, changes in perception of the perpetrator, alterations in relationships, alterations in one's system of meaning.
Mike also commented on the inevitability of empathic failures with our clients. One thing I have come to realize is that rupture and repair of the therapeutic alliance can be more healing than no rupture in in the first place, for clients with early childhood trauma. It is a much deeper corrective emotional experience. Great topic, Dorlee! Warmly, AndreaSam Ross, Teenage Whisperer said on... Music Therapy: Healing Through Music
Another fascinating post on alternative forms of therapy! I love the emotion-regulation exercise. It says so much more than if you just explained the process of emotion-regulation to a client. I always find that when dealing with difficult issues and emotions, if you can involve an activity that typically is viewed as being fun at the same time (like art, music, a game) it somehow takes the elephant off their chests and enables them to breathe that little bit more so that they can begin to express and then better understand themselves. Thanks for sharing!Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, MRW said on... The Power of Meditation
Hi Dorlee, This post connects to what I feel on so many levels. I really am drawn to the idea of 'integration,' and it, along with 'mindsight / meditation,' can result in more resilience and well-being as well as behaving more compassionately and empathetically. I particularly like the idea of mental nutrients and Engaging in the Healthy Mind Platter.
As articulated in your post, these are critical ingredients to my daily balance, for sure: time in, sufficient sleep, physical activity, focus time, down time, play time and connecting time. I continually am reminded why you are such a fit for your career field of social work; you are so impressively invested and tuned in to the nutrients needed for a woman engaging with a diversity of clients in need. Warmly, JacquiTerry said on... 11 Tips for Employing Art Therapy Techniques
Dorlee, As usual, I found this post to be engaging and informative. Although I have a background in psychology and counseling from many, many years ago, I am not a practicing therapist and long ago decided to take my career in a very different direction. So I visit your blog as a learner and seeker. I am still interested, however, in developments and practices in the field, and I find your posts really very interesting and 'tuned-in' on so many levels.
Your style of sharing various models and tools is down-to-earth and written in a way that even someone like me can understand, which makes reading them fun and a great resource of new ideas. I often use ideas from your blog to begin further research. The sensitivity with which you always address the human condition is a reminder that we are all on this journey together, and that it is through compassion and open-heartedness that we help each other along the road. We would all be well served to use your writing as a model of sensitivity in our own conversations and processing.
I always admire your willingness to share personal experiences to illustrate some of your points. It is a courageous thing to do. And I believe this is one of the reasons why your blog is popular. I was very touched by your drawing and the message of love from your grandmother. Having recently experienced a great loss of my own, I could relate to its incredible importance on a deep emotional level. I agree with Marianna that your open-hearted and generous spirit always serves to promote, to stimulate and to engage. Thank you.njsmyth said on... Continuing Education: Optional or Obligatory?
Great post, Dorlee, about an important topic. And some really informative comments.
New York State, where I live and work, is one of the few states that doesn't require continuing education for social workers. So in our region, many professionals have found that not only do some agencies not pay for their training, they require that they take vacation days in order to attend training. And then at the other end of the spectrum, we have other agencies that really value continuing education and invest in their employees through funding their professional development. Interestingly, my impression is that these latter agencies have lower staff turnover rates.
Like Jonathan, when I think back on where the field was when I received my MSW it's staggering to me how many things have changed. I tell students that achieving an MSW is the start of your education, not the culmination. To be really effective in practice you need to not only attend continuing education and read, but ultimately you need to study something in depth. This means attending more than a one day workshop on something, but pursuing a topic over many sessions, and ideally obtaining consultation from specialists.
As to whether or not continuing education is optional or an obligation, I give social workers and other human services professionals this scenario:
"You develop a serious illness and go to see a specialist. Would you want to see a specialist who hadn't attended any continuing education in the last few years (or since receiving their degree)? My guess is the answer is no. So why would we expect our clients to settle for less than having a professional who is up-to-date in her/his profession?"
In other words, I see continuing education as a professional obligation, regardless of whether or not state licensing boards require it, and regardless of whether or not agencies pay for it. It's part of being an ethical, competent professional.Jonathan B. Singer, Ph.D., LCSW said on... Continuing Education: Optional or Obligatory?
I fully support the idea of mandatory continuing education for social workers (as well as every other professional). Here's why: 1. There's nothing better for your day-to-day practice than to get excited about a new idea or an old idea that you have been reminded of. 2. Over the course of your career the knowledge and skills you acquired in your MSW program will go from new and cutting edge to obsolete. For example, I received my MSW in 1996. Here are some of the treatments or concepts that were not established enough to be included in my MSW education (1994 - 1996): Trauma theory, Motivational Interviewing, Emotion-Focused therapy, Gottman's work on couples, the internet (yes, the internet)... I was lucky enough to go to an excellent MSW program (UT-Austin).
One of my professors, Cynthia Franklin, was up to date on the "newest" postmodern theories (Solution-Focused Therapy and Narrative Therapy) and taught them to us. Otherwise, I might have completely missed out on them because they were new. "Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends" was published just 4 years before I started my MSW program and most of the SFT literature was just starting to come out. When I graduated do you know what everyone was talking about? EMDR. It was the next BIG THING that was going to change the world. You don't know what will be important in 10 years. You don't know what research will be published, what concepts will make a difference in your client's lives. You WILL get very comfortable doing what you do.
One way to make sure you're getting actual continuing education, and not just meeting licensure requirements, is to decide what you want to learn about this year and select your CE programs accordingly. If you want to know more about military social work because you're seeing more community dwelling veterans in your agency, then decide "this year I will take CE programs - online or in person - that deal with military social work." It turns the whole CE drudgery into your own personal post-graduate training program.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that many CEU programs are crap. Licensing boards authorize people and organizations as CEU providers, but they don't vet the content. As long as a program has an educational description and three learning objectives that are reasonable and consistent with the title and description, and you pay your money, then you'll be able to provide CEUs. But, if you decide you want to learn about subject X, then you're more likely to vet the courses yourself so that you're really getting what you want out of your CEU program.
The last thing I'll say is that podcasts like mine (The Social Work Podcast) and UB's Living Proof Podcast can be GREAT ways to learn about information. But we're not CE providers. At the moment there is too much administrative headache to offer CEUs for the episodes because they were not designed to be CE programs. That said, the quality and quantity of online CE program is increasing every year. There is NO REASON why a social worker can't put together an excellent year-long plan for continuing education these days. Best regards, JonathanErmintrude2 said on... Understanding: A Privilege or a Right?
Great post. I think it is so important to make language as accessible as possible. Just today I went to see someone and conversed with them in her first language (and my second language which I am fortunate enough to speak) - the difference it made to have our 'default languages' reversed had a real impact on me. Language is a barrier that we can sometimes take for granted but it is often one of the simplest to break down with awareness.Marianna Paulson said on... Art Therapy and Social Work
I'm reminded of my classroom teaching days with this post. There were students who would struggle in every class, but once a blank sheet of paper and pencils or paints were placed before them, a grand transformation would take place. Frowns would turn upside down. Posture would be a little straighter. Suddenly, everyone is in awe of the work that this "struggling" student manages to produce.
It's sad when the arts are often the first thing that gets cut by school boards, especially when there the benefits have been proven. "When we access our creativity we access our joy," heard at a workshop. Based upon your experiences, a lot more is also accessed.socialjerk said on... Social Worker Safety
Listening to your intuition and paying attention to what your body is telling you is the number one safety lesson I've learned in my field work. Personally, I'm not usually afraid of what clients will do as much as I am other people in the building or neighborhood, but the lesson holds up. Every dangerous situation I've encountered has been one that I had a feeling about, but ignored.
I'm finally at a point where I will skip a home visit, cross the street, or run (this has only happened once--all the gang members were running one way, so I went the opposite) and not care if someone on the street is a little insulted or thinks I'm crazy. It was good to hear that advice from a professional! Thanks :)
By now, you have read 18 of my favorite blog comments from all of you this year. Please know that I appreciated all of your comments and it is only for lack of space (and your time) that I am not showing more of them.
Thanks again for all your help in making this blog a valuable resource for social workers and other mental health professionals!
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