Monday, December 19, 2011

What Can We Do About It?

I have been out of touch for the last couple of days as I have been in transit from Boston to Buenos Aires for a winter vacation. However, while waiting for my flight to leave Dulles International Airport in Washington, I did catch one of the local T.V. stations airing endless commentaries of the Penn State horror. And I use that word intentional, as I see the alleged crime of child sexual abuse as horrible, the accused perpetrators as horrible and the collusion of silence around the crime as horrible.  And what are we to do about it?

This perpetration has been going on for centuries, even with all kinds of prohibitions, punishments and social stigmas associated with the crime, it continues.  The ancient Hammurabi Code, from Babylon, almost 4,000 years old, admonished the crime, as did the Ancient Jewish laws.  And here we are, approaching 2012, facing the same phenomenon, knowing full well the serious and toxic toll the crime takes on the victims, their families, other witnesses and the perpetrators. 

When I ask, “What Can we do about it?” I look for ways we all can take some responsibility in preventing it from happening and from stopping it if it has already started.  One specific action we can take is to be fully trained and sensitive to those signs that suggest the crime could be happening and to have the courage, the boldness, the moral fortitude to act--to report it to the authorities, the authorized child protection agency in you city or town or those who are the experts in assessing suspicions of child sexual abuse. You do not have to be sure or to have witnessed the crime or to feel you have to prove it.  You do have to have the moral fortitude (and for mandated reporters you do have the legal responsibility to report) to alert the people who will investigate your concern.

This is what the people in power at Penn State did not do.  They looked the other way, denied it, minimized it and fully avoided their responsibilities as adults, as citizens and as moral and civic standard setters.

Even though the trial(s) have not yet begun, and the suspects/accused are innocent until proven guilty, let this be a continuing reminder to all of us of our obligation and responsibility to protect our young people.  Whether our concern or suspicion centers on a trusted teacher, an athletic hero, a clergyperson, a neighbor, a relative, or a stranger, don’t let our fear of making a mistake stop us from calling the authorized child abuse hotline.  Immediately.  This century old problem needs all of us to be advocates, socially responsible individuals and caring human beings to protect our young people. 

Carol J. Trust

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just For Fun

Every now and then I like to get playful with the serious parts of life and laugh at myself, my foibles, my judgments, and my blind spots. And here comes Holly Housman Friedman’s very thoughtful article in the October 2011 issue of FOCUS, about Psychoanalysis—“On Becoming a Psychoanalyst.”  And I had just about given up on that form of treatment or personal exploration as being outdated, overpriced and inaccessible.  But Holly made it come alive when she said, “It liberates patients from neurotic patterns, helps them make better choices, addresses the blind spots and moves them to  live their lives to the fullest potential.” Who would argue with that?  So I am encouraging all readers to take another look at what I thought was an antiquated method of treatment or education.  Pull out your October 2011 issue of FOCUS and get a refreshed view of psychoanalysis.

I took my interest to the next level when I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and went to see the longest running off-Broadway Play- Freud’s Last Session.  This was a ‘fictionalized’ session between Freud and C.S. Lewis after the war when Freud had settled in England.  The two hammered out their different points of view about religion, life, government, tyranny and love.  The dialogue was tight, pithy and substantive.  After the play, I had my own session with Freud, as you can see.  Just for fun

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Got Paid Sick Days?

I knew it was coming. The tickle in my throat that grew into a persistent cough. That one sneeze that turned into three in a row. The feeling of a warm cheek that soon pushed the thermometer up to 100 degrees. I knew that despite my efforts of taking Vitamin C and using hand sanitizer, I had the flu.
I knew it was going to get worse before it got better and I didn’t want to risk the staff getting sick so I called out sick for the day. I proceeded to stock up on tea, tissues, and most of all, sleep. I woke up the next day and felt much better.

The thought that I was going to lose my job or not afford to pay the rent because I lost a day’s wages didn’t cross my mind. Unfortunately, that scenario is out of reach for many Massachusetts workers. Over 1.4 million workers in Massachusetts lack a single guaranteed earned paid sick day. This means that there are thousands of workers who must choose between their jobs and their health. Even more Massachusetts workers—more than two thirds—cannot take any sick time to care for a sick child or elderly parent. These workers can lose pay or even their jobs if they stay home from work to get well, or to care for a sick child or relative.  They can lose pay just for going to a routine doctor’s appointment to stay healthy.

NASW-MA has prioritized House Bill H1398, An Act to Establishing Paid Sick Days, which would address this significant economic injustice and public health issue. Under this law:
  • Employees earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked
  • Employees can earn up to seven paid sick days a year.
  • Earned paid sick time can be used for illness, routine medical appointments and domestic violence related.
  • Earned paid sick time can be used to meet the needs of the employee, or the employee’s spouse, child, parent or spouse’s parent.

There are many reasons why as social workers, we are advocating for this bill. HB 1398 would not only decrease the spread of illnesses but it also would ease the burden on families across the Commonwealth. Caretakers that are able to attend to their sick family members will strengthen families instead of adding the additional stress of losing a day’s wage or even their job.

Earned paid sick days also make economic sense. All health care payers will save when employees can take better care of themselves and their families, reducing their health care expenditures.  This preventive measure would support the efforts of cost containment in health care and boost employee productivity in the long run.

Passing this bill is a win for employees, employers, and families across Massachusetts. Help us tell the legislature that its time to pass HB 1398, An Act to Establish Paid Sick Days! I urge you to call your legislators and let them know that you want them to support HB 1398. The more legislators hear about the bill, the better chance it has of passing into law. Need to know who your legislator is? Go to  to find out. You can also email your legislator directly from our website.

Carol J. Trust

Friday, November 4, 2011


In April, National NASW gave the award for Public Citizen of the Year to Clementine (Tina) Chery for her pioneering work with families impacted by violence, particularly family members of homicide victims.   This was the second NASW award Ms. Chery received.  Last year the MA Chapter awarded her for her extraordinary work through the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, in Dorchester, MA.  Tina’s organization is unique.  It is run mainly by volunteers who work toward instilling the value of peace and raising awareness in young people of the consequences of violence on the individual, the family and the community.  Thanks to the dedicated work of the Institute, November 20th to December 20th has been designated as the 11th annual ‘Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month’.  This yearly observance provides a platform where we can learn and teach others how to assist families who have lost loved ones to homicide.

Massachusetts was the first state in the country to dedicate an entire month to survivors of homicide victims.  We salute the work of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute as we honor the courage, creativity and grace of its founder, Tina Chery.

To find out about the activities planned for this coming month go to

Carol J. Trust

Friday, October 28, 2011

Grateful for good news!

I am so hungry for some good news to appear on the front pages of the two major newspapers in the Greater Boston area. Anything will do. Maybe the good news is being covered elsewhere; maybe I am reading the wrong newspapers? The other day when I had had enough I turned to read some of my emails and low and behold, there was the gold. It was from a social worker who was writing about an extraordinary experience she and her aging Dad had had with a local social worker whose unstoppable advocacy actions took her breath away.  Some of the names of the organizations and people in the following have been changed because I want to focus on the exceptionally powerful positive actions of one of our own rather than on what appears to be negative actions of the organizations in the story.  What follows is our front page story—a story of simple greatness, positive energy and superlative professional actions. Here is the email letter we received

‘Dear NASW,

I am writing to tell you about a clinical social worker, at UMASS Memorial University Campus in Worcester.  My father had a stroke in early July and was hospitalized at UMASS where he received excellent care by the stroke team.  He had ‘Company X’ insurance.

In mid- August, once my Dad’s medical condition had stabilized, the stroke team recommended moving him to an acute rehabilitation facility.  The team believed that acute rehab of 3-4 hours per day was the course of treatment to pursue for his best possible recovery.

The Clinical Social Worker was the case manager assigned to my Dad for discharge planning.  We discussed which acute rehab facility would be best and the social worker went to work preparing the necessary paperwork to get my Dad moved to the rehabilitation facility. 

Despite the stroke team's unanimous recommendation for acute rehab the insurer denied the transfer and proposed moving my Dad elsewhere.  The Clinical Social Worker asked if we wanted to appeal the insurer’s decision and we agreed emphatically.  She worked tirelessly to get the information needed to review the medical facts in my Dad’s case but to no avail. The insurer never even reviewed the medical record in this case.

I hired an attorney to work with us and with our Clinical Social Worker to get a reversal of the denial. After several phone calls and emails, late on a Friday afternoon, the insurer reversed the denial and my Dad was sent to the facility we had wanted to get the medical treatment he needed and the care his medical team prescribed.

I write this to let you and your organization know of the exemplary work that this individual did for my Dad and my family at a very stressful and critical juncture in his medical treatment.  This person is a tenacious advocate for her patients and a credit to your profession.  We were very lucky to have her working with us.’ The social worker is Heather Miller, LICSW.

A grateful client’

Now, that is great news!

Carol Trust

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Leading From Possibility

The ‘Occupy’ phenomenon is growing across the nation.  A few blocks from the Chapter office, Dewey Square is filled with individuals that are calling our attention to what they see as pervasive social and economic inequities that shame our wonderful country and state.  I want to share with you the statement that the MA Chapter has released on the ‘Occupy Boston’ event.  We are in support of the occupation as it retains its peaceful context.  Below is the Chapter’s statement.
NASW MA Chapter's Statement in Support of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston
As an organization that is committed to social and economic justice and unimpeded access to services for all, NASW-MA Chapter supports the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Boston protests. These protests are shining a light on the exacerbated income and social inequality that has gripped the nation in recent years. America’s “new economy” is a tale of skewed wealth and income. The new economy generates extraordinary riches for the few, but creates declining wages, rising debt, and the risk of deep and persistent poverty for many. 

Social Workers know that joblessness and economic insecurity contribute to the incidence of mental illness, family violence, suicide, substance abuse, crime, and diminished capacity for healthy family and community functioning. It is this knowledge and experience that gives the social work profession a special responsibility to advocate for income, employment, and social support policies that promote the economic justice and social well-being of all members of society and why NASW-MA Chapter has always been on the forefront of progressive taxation campaigns in the commonwealth. NASW-MA Chapter supports social, economic, and political actions to end poverty and the vast inequalities in wealth and income, to which protestors at “Occupy” events are so effectively drawing the country’s attention. 

NASW-MA Chapter urges its membership to raise awareness about and take part in the Occupy Boston peaceful protests, as social workers see fit.

 Betty Morningstar,PhD, LICSW, President, and
Carol J. Trust, LICSW, Executive Director

Monday, October 3, 2011

Leading From Possibility


This morning I attended the monthly meeting of the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) Advisory Council, with one of our MSW Interns from Salem State University.  This is the group that is advising the Department of Mental Health on the implementation plan of the Rosie D. case outcome. All the professional mental health societies and trade organizations as well specialty MD groups, advocacy groups and client consumer groups, Executive Office of Health and Human Service Agencies, hospitals serving children and others concerned with Mental Health Issues and services related to children.  It was a big group as it always is.  These are the folks who not only care about the mental health services provided to children, but are really focused on the barriers standing in the way of delivering these services. And there are many that seem to be unintentional- the consequence of addressing a complex set of issues, services and financial restraints.

As we started reviewing what are mission was, our accomplishments, our authority, our power (or lack of), we noted all the other initiatives that were occurring at the same time with similar missions:  There is: the CANS project that zeros in on providing ‘wrap around services’ for children; the Behavioral Health/Primary Care Integration Group, which is focuses on just what the title says; the state Mental Health Planning  Council which oversees mental health services to kids and adults; the Department of Child and Family Services Advisory Council, which focuses on the services provided to DCF families and Children; the group that; the Office of the Child Advocate; the group that is reviewing the Governor’s proposal to restructure the provision of state services to children;  and several others.

As we started listing all the groups, we saw that we really needed to get clear about our own focus and to coordinate these efforts of well informed, dedicated, and committed mental health individuals caring about the mental, social and educational health of our children. Our next meeting will focus on this question. As we go through this process, I remind myself that many good people care tremendously about providing services to our children and that there are many routes to follow-none are simple or clear cut, just like most of life.  We need to ‘be with’ the lack of clarity as we sort it all out. The ambiguity is clear.

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leading From Possibility

Ten Years Later

I had a hard time thinking about this topic.   It was so huge, so monstrous, so omnipresent, so incredible.  My usual responses and judgments just did not fit.  There was one memory, however, that totally stuck with me and I believe will stand out for me forever.  It had to do with one of our Board member’s response to the day.  Some background first.  The morning of September 11, 2001, was the day of the Chapter’s Annual Board of Directors retreat. 25 Board members and 4 social staff were around the conference table when the announcement of the attacks was made.

The able President and Executive Director at the time asked the group what it wanted to do about continuing with the meeting that had been planned for several months. At first the sentiment was that we should cancel the Retreat. 

Some members stood up immediately and said that they were leaving without any discussion.  The majority of participants chose to discuss, not only the attacks that had just happened, but to relate them to our lives as professional social workers, community members and family members.  Some people said they wanted to return to their offices to handle calls that would be getting from clients, employees or students.  Others felt they needed to get in touch with their family members and be with them.  Then one Board member stood up and declared that cancelling the meeting was just what the attackers wanted: to disrupt our lives (among other motives) and that if we stopped the meeting we would be doing exactly what the attackers were hoping to display—power over the enemy.  She shared with the group that during the blitz on London during World War II, all people were expected (and did) go about their normal business, whether it was in an office, an agency, a hospital or school.  The Londoners were determined not to give in to evil forces.  And she, Sophie Freud Lowenstein, who was living with her family at the time in London did exactly that.  She declared that we must continue our business.  And we did.

This was a lesson that has stuck with me to this day.  And I thank Sophie for the lesson in resilience that she graphically conveyed that morning.

Carol Trust

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Leading From Possibility

On August 5th and 6th of this week, National NASW is holding its triennial Delegate Assembly event where over 200 elected NASW member delegated come together to address many of the policy issues that the Association is known for dealing with.  This is the second time that Delegate Assembly will be held ‘virtually’ rather than in person in Washington , D.C. has it had been held for the last 30 years or so.  The decision to go ‘virtual’ was made in light of the huge expense involved in bringing 200 delegates into Washington for a multi-day event and in light of the growing movement of governance of National Associations being held electronically.

Lots of people were disappointed that the event had changed its venue.  They missed the camaraderie and face to face deliberations that occurred when we all met in one huge ballroom and the roll call was shouted out from each State Delegation with the Presidents of all 55 chapters identifying the distinctive characteristics of that state.  The Presiding Officer of the Assembly, three years ago and again, this year, our own Mr. Gary Bailey, current President of the International Federation of Social Workers, former President of National NASW and the MA Chapter of NASW, will call the Assembly together and then start the roll call.  He will call “The Massachusetts Chapter” and our Chapter President, Dr. Betty Morningstar, will announce “From the Great State of Massachusetts, Home of Red Sox Nation, the 2011 winners of the Stanley Cup in Ice Hockey, the Boston Bruins,  and a number of ‘Firsts’ like,  the first public high school in the United States-Boston Latin, the first University-Harvard, the first Public Library” we stand ready to serve the goals of the National Association of Social Workers.”  There is a lot of hoopla, applause and sometimes some jeering from the peanut gallery.  It is lots of fun before we get down to the business of revising, creating and discussing public policy statements that affect the clients and communities that we serve.

This year one of the hot topics will be the wisdom of continuing the current structure of the Delegate Assembly.  Some think it is outdated. Some question having two bodies-the elected Board of Directors of National NASW and the elected Delegates to the Assembly- decide on policy.  You will be hearing more of this after the two day event is over, as I believe, this will be one of the hot topics between now and the next Delegate Assembly in three years.  Members of NASW will be able to give their input on the subject.  It has to do with Governance and how we as a professional association do business.  You will be encouraged to give your input. You will certainly be heard!

Carol J. Trust

Friday, July 22, 2011

Leading From Possibility

My Pizza was an hour late arriving, it’s cold, so they better give it to me free.’ 

I am feeling grumpy. I caught it from listening to all the conversations around me, especially those that focus on complaints people are harboring about the weather, the economy, trash in the street, j- walkers, frizzy hair (because of the humidity), hair with no curl ( those darn straight hair genes), relationships gone sour, no relationships, cars that don’t stop for pedestrians, pedestrians that  don’t wait for the walk light, bicyclists that don’t stop or wait for anything... and  on and on it goes. My list is much, much longer but, I think you get the idea.

How did we come to this state of affairs where we are so quick to voice our complaint?  The flaws in other peoples characters, the world situation in general, the cold pizza.  And wait.  What about the blue ribbon winner of workplace complaints—the   Monday morning comment, going up in the elevator to the office, “Sigh. Oh dear, Monday morning. Oh, well.  Just five more days until Friday.”  Really.  I just want to say, “Sir. Aren’t you lucky you have a job? And that you don’t need any medical devises to help you breathe? And that you are going into an air-conditioned office?”  I don’t.  But, boy do I want to.  I don’t because, in part, there may be a basis for the complaint.  In part, because I have learned to edit my responses, In part, because I should, as a good social worker, allow people their feelings, their idiosyncrasies, their views of the world.” In part, because I don’t want to start trouble, get them angry, suggest my world view is the preferred.

This is not the kind of blog you would expect the Executive Director of a Professional Association to publish.  No.  But I was feeling grumpy.  And now I feel better. I’ll be able to attend my seminar tonight with a better clearing.  As my mother, Lillian, used to say, “I got it off my chest.”  And you, my dear readers, bear witness to the nonprofessional musings of a professional social worker, whose pizza came late…… and cold.

Carol J. Trust

Monday, July 11, 2011

Leading From Possibility

This morning, I am meeting, along with my mental health colleagues from the other professional associations, with the head of the Managed Care Division of the Massachusetts Division of Insurance.  We have been continually concerned about certain practices that the managed care and insurance companies have implemented over the years that disadvantage mental health providers.
High up on the list is the practice of 'Retroactive Payback'-a particularly burdensome and unfair practice. 

There are numerous other problems that need to be addressed, as well, so we are eager to pursue this conversation with the folks at the DOI.  This is just one of the many actions that the MA Chapter takes to advocate for its members and the clients we serve.

I love these meetings for the opportunity they create to bring the issues of the profession to the parties that can do something about the problems.

Carol J. Trust

Friday, June 24, 2011

Leading From Possibility

No Old Stuff here, please.

More and more, I am hearing from people-colleagues, friends, members, neighbors, pedestrians- that the reason they didn’t hear, or didn’t remember, or messed up was that it was a sign of age, a senior moment, memory lapse, the aging process.   This has become, in my estimation, the #1 excuse on the street for folks in my age group (under 100.)  It has become an irritation, an annoyance, a complaint for me such that I wonder if there is some truth to it.  Do most of us really start losing it after 40?, 50? 60?  

I don’t forget about aging.  And that is that the MA Chapter’s Nursing Home SIG (Shared Interest Group) is just holding its very successful 33rd annual conference.  This conference, on the topic of older people- the clients and those professionals working with the aging population is far from feeling the effects of its age.  In fact, this Annual Conference is sharp, pithy and substantive.  The organizers keep coming up with fresh ideas for working with the elderly, creative resources and novel sites for holding the conference.  I am totally taken with the Chapter’s SIG and the committee that puts the conference together.  Led by Chair, Elise Beaulieu, the group continues to mobilize, sharp speakers, exciting exhibitors and an audience of professional social workers who are unstoppable in their quest for new knowledge on the subject of treating old people. There is no ‘old stuff’ at this conference- just possibility. 

Carol J. Trust, LICSW

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Leading From Possibility


For a while now, I have been noticing something that is quite peculiar.  It has to do with how people respond to compliments or being thanked for something that they did or a way they are looking.  For instance, when a colleague thanks you for your taking her place at a meeting that she was assigned to attend but could not because of a case emergency, what do you say?    Is it ‘No Problem?’ or  ‘I didn’t have anything else to do during that hour’.  And when someone compliments you on a new tie or a great pair of shoes, do you respond with, “Oh, I’ve had these for a while,” or “do you really like it?”

I want to know whatever happened with the old fashioned, “Thank you very much,” or “ You are most welcome.”  What is with this “NO PROBLEM” response?  Do you realize that there are two negatives in this phrase?  The negative is the word ‘NO’ and the second is the word “PROBLEM.  How odd of us to respond with a double dose of negatives when someone is complimenting or thanking us?  Where is our sense of civility and genteelness?   I want to bring it back, or if we never had it, start generating it.  Right now.

With this in mind, I want to thank our great NASW members for all that they do. Thank you! For choosing social work for your  profession when  you could have  chosen a more lucrative,  often less stressful career, for supporting communities in reaching the goals they have set, for putting your caring into practice rather than keeping it solely in words, for being part of NASW so that your professional organization can represent you and the clients you serve in the legislature, and other governmental and private settings that influence public policy.  Thank you for what you do and for your dues.  And thank you most of all for giving me a great job, where every day when I come up on the elevator I enter Suite 409 at 14 Beacon Street, Boston, with a big smile on my face.  Thank you.

Carol J. Trust

Friday, June 10, 2011

DCF’s Stars amid a Cloudy Sky

I just returned from a meeting of the Department of Children and Families State-Wide Advisory Council, where Commissioner Angelo McLain and his staff updated the group of advocates, providers, foster parents, birth parents, community volunteers, and professional societies the latest happenings at the Department.  A lot of time was spent on the budget and the impact of budget cuts on the critical services that the Department provides or contracts to community groups to provide.  The cuts that the Legislature is proposing are heart rending and will certainly mean that services will have to be cut and that social workers may be laid off.  We talked about prioritizing budget line items that we could directly advocate for given the across the board reductions. I marveled at the tenacity of the Commissioner and his staff to ‘soldier on’ with their commitment to continue to provide the valuable services they offer to our vulnerable families and children.

There was one very telling piece of information that was presented and that was the poor record MA holds in the number of foster home placements that Department of Children and Families (DCF) kids experience.  MA ranks 43rd out of 51 states on placement stability. Commissioner McLain, instead of being defensive, directly conveyed that the state must do better. His staff shared with us all the actions they are taking to improve the situation and then they urged those present to add our ideas about what the Department could do.

It is this kind of genuine acknowledgement of failing grades and disappointing facts without any excuses that distinguishes Angelo McLain as a leader of integrity and inspiration.  I worked for DCF years ago and remember the impossible situations that the child welfare staff faced but I don’t recall this level of authenticity and candor displayed.  I am glad that Angelo is at the helm and we should do all we can to support him and his staff.

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, June 2, 2011


It seems that every couple of weeks or so either I or my staff get a call from a worried and sometimes frantic member with an ethical dilemma that needs immediate attention.  Usually the person identifies himself or herself as someone who has been practicing for many years, has experience with tough clinical issues and has never had a problem like the one they are presenting.  'What do I do?' is the question posed to us.

Now, the MA Chapter has a wonderful service for its members who are faced with potential and real ethical dilemmas.  The Chapter's Ethics Hotline committee members, composed of social workers, highly trained in identifying and addressing ethical issues. They do an exemplary job helping callers with their ethical dilemmas.  What I want to stress is that social workers have an opportunity and a responsibility to be aware of potential ethical pitfalls BEFORE they occur.  As professionals, we must be totally aware of, trained in and knowledgeable about these unexpected situations that can occur in anyone's practice; regardless of the number of years one has practiced.  We cannot be arrogant about our knowledge of social work practice.

With this in mind, I want to remind all social workers to look for opportunities to become fully trained in 'avoiding' and 'addressing' ethical dilemmas.  One of these opportunities is coming up on June 10, when the MA Chapter holds a Continuing Education program specifically geared to raising social workers awareness, not only of the potential pitfalls but also of how to deal with them.

This program titled, “Protect Your Clients and Yourself” is particularly relevant now, as it will focus on the problems associated with the use of social media in one's professional AND personal life. The MA Chapter President, Betty Morningstar and I will be attending as we view this training as crucial to our professional lives.

The workshop will take place at Lantana in Randolph, MA on the morning of June 10th (9-12:30) with registration starting at 8:30am. To learn more or sign up for workshop Click Here.

 Carol J. Trust

Friday, May 20, 2011

Power & Corruption *Updated

This has been quite a week with news items ranging from President Obama's speech on the Middle East, to Newt Gingrich's turbulent comments on his entry into the Republican Presidential campaign, to the annoyingly prevalent news coverage of the sexual misdeeds and alleged assaults of powerful men on women.

I am going to focus on the latter issue as it comes up so often, persistently gets people's attention and from my perspective continually astounds me.  The issue of powerful men factually and/or allegedly having liaison's with or attacking women in their personal and professional lives.  What is this about?  Of course, the clinicians, the anthropologists, the historians and the mavens among us have their views. The clinicians may give it a CPT code labeling the dysfunction with a variety of diagnostic categories.  The anthropologists may say that the behavior is primal and has to do with the male of the species declaring their territoriality for survival purposes.  The historians just may say that it is part of the human historical experience.  And the mavens?  Well, their unempirical view may range from "Ladies, watch out.  Proceed with caution.  Pay attention. Be on guard" to "It all goes back to the relationship with Mommy and Daddy."

I imagine that the answer to this 'phenomenon' may contain elements of all the above.  And what do we do about this reoccurring violation?  I am interested in your ideas and your responses.  I will be watching the responses to this blog, closely, and will be sharing some of the responses next week.

My own response is incredulous whenever I hear of powerful men who in their public lives have contributed in highly meaningful and valuable ways and who then behave in harmful and often illegal ways.

Standing by for your thoughts.

I am attaching the following article written by a clinical social worker who takes a clinical look at the issue of ‘sexual misbehaviors’ vs. “sex addiction.”  I would take a harder view and call those sexual actions by men or women who are in more powerful positions than the partner they ‘connect’ with, misguided from the most benign perspective to felonious, for those that exert physical and psychological force on the victim.
Sex Addict? 

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Weathering The Storm

If you are having trouble figuring out how the proposal for Health Care (Payment) Reform will effect your practice of social work, you are in good company.  Everyone is struggling, wondering and obsessing.

I am not just talking about social workers who have clinical practices, or to the majority of NASW members who practice their trade in the dozens of other social work settings but to all.  If you are a clinician providing mental health services to clients you need to be particularly vigilant as the changes will impact your livelihood and your personal health care needs.  If you are practicing social work in any other setting, you need to be aware of the changes for the population and communities that you are working in, as well as for yourselves and your families.

There are a number of the key issues that we are looking at from the social work perspective :  First, is the place of mental health services and specifically social work services in the proposed reform.  Social workers are in an excellent position to play key roles in the new Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) models.  We are expertly trained for the case management or care coordination roles that are integral parts of the Health Reform proposal. (Keep in mind that there are numerous phrases that describe this 'coordination' function and care management, care coordination, case management, etc. are just a sampling of the job functions.)  From our theoretical and practice training  we know that a client/patient/individual needs to be seen from the perspective of 'person in environment' which basically means being aware of all the influences on a client's life and not just one medical or emotional symptom that the individual may present at the doctor's office. Besides this expertise in coordination, social work clinicians are highly trained to provide therapy services to those individuals with mental health and emotional needs. 

Social workers provide over 60% of mental health services delivered in the country.

We need to make sure that social work is the profession of choice in the new system. There are job opportunities that we need to be vigilant about and promoting amongst our colleagues and the schools of social work.

Second, we are wondering, where mental health is going to fit? If the ACO's are going to be given a certain amount of money to provide for all the health needs of its clients, how can we be sure that the ACO (headed by a medical/PCP person) will deploy some of that money to the mental health needs of its patients when mental health treatment is indicated? NASW is working hard to get to the bottom of these questions.

The MA Chapter is paying close attention to these two major concerns of our members and the clients they serve.

Besides having established a work group made of NASW members who are knowledgeable about systems, health care, advocacy and practice, THE CHAPTER WILL TESTIFY ON MONDAY MAY 16th at the State House about our concerns.  We are on the 'case' in the State House, with the administrative bodies that are charged with implementing the new Health reform proposal and with our colleagues in the other mental health and patient advocacy groups.

We ask that you keep abreast of the proposed changes in health reform by reading the accounts in the newspapers and other media, talking with your elected officials and continually bringing your questions and concerns to the Chapter.  We need to get feedback from you and take full advantage of your wisdom.  You can reach me at

Carol J. Trust

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ms. Trust goes to Washington

Each year the NASW Annual Leadership Meeting (ALM) brings together all the Executive Directors, the Presidents or the President Elects of the Chapters (there are 55 chapters), the National NASW Board of Directors and the National staff to receive training on issues common to the Leadership of the Association.  It is an extraordinary experience being in among all this brain power, exuberance, leadership and passion for the profession. One day is spent on building strong relationships between elected volunteers, leaders and staff so that this team can go home and recreate the powerful voice of social work in its local Chapter.  The training that our President, Betty Morningstar, and I received will be passed on to our Board of Directors and other Committee and Shared Interest Group Chairs as we increase the strength of leadership in the Chapter.

President Morningstar and I had the opportunity to visit the offices of our two Massachusetts Senators, John Kerry and Scott Brown, as well as each of our Congressmen, Barney Frank and Michael Capuano.  Our main objective was to lobby our Congress people to sign on to the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act (HR 1106/S.584.  This Act will not only strengthen the social work profession by giving it National Visibility, but it will also provide demonstration grants advancing the implementation of social work practice models in agencies and organizations throughout the country.  Senator Kerry has just signed on as a co-sponsor, as a result of our visit. You can count on President Morningstar and me to lobby the other three Congress people to a favorable decision.

A highlight of the 3 day event was the awarding of National Awards to exemplary social workers and public citizens.  The Massachusetts Chapter’s nominee for Public Citizen of the Year, Clementina Chery won the award with her exceptional vision and passion for creating the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Dorchester , MA.   In 1993, Ms. Chery’s son, Louse, was shot and killed while on his way to a Christmas party given by a group called Teens Against Gang Violence- a violence prevention, intervention and peer leadership development program. The Institute is dedicated to carrying on their son’s legacy of preventing violence in their community. The audience of National leaders and citizens were spell bound by the work of NASW-MA Chapter’s Ms. Chery.

So that’s a short round up  of what your Executive Director is up to on these yearly trips.  I am proud and grateful to represent the Massachusetts Social Work Community in the Nation’s Capital.

Carol J. Trust

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When I'm 64...

Will you still need me?  Will you still feed me…….?  So the 1960’s lyrics of the Beatles song go and I still smile every time I hear that tune.  Decades old it may be, but the concern still prevails. How will life be as I get older, as my clients age, as we see the demographics shift such that there are more older folks in our lives than younger ones.  The subject has been getting more pressing as these topics are brought up in the media, and I become aware of my own aging. 

So what is NASW and the Chapter, in particular, doing about this?  How can we support our members who are dealing with these issues personally and professionally?  The news is good.  When you are an NASW member you can be sure to get all kinds of acknowledgment, support and resources in the area of aging.

For starters, in the area of acknowledgment, just take a look at the award winners at the 2011 Chapter Award event.  3 out of 7  work in the area of aging; Kathy Kuhn  recipient for the Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice is on staff at the Institute of Geriatric Social Work; Chet Jakubiak, recipient of the Award for Social Policy and Change is  a leader at the  Massachusetts Association of Older Americans,  and Kathleen McInnis-Dittrich, recipient of the Greatest Contribution to Social Work Practice is Chairperson of the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, Older Adults and Families Concentration.  We applaud these outstanding NASW members for their contributions to the field of Geriatric Social Work.

Then we have all the Continuing Education Events on the subject of working with the Elderly  held this past year, including: Love, Sex and Aging: Intimacy and Older Adults; the film Beaches of Agnes that focused on successful and creative aging.  And the Major CE event of the  year for folks working with the Elderly-The Annual Nursing Home Conference.

Further, the Chapter has two wonderful Shared Interest Groups (SIGS) that concentrate on issues related to working with the elderly:  The Nursing Home SIG and the Elder Issues SIG.  Both of these groups keep us well abreast of the issues that relate to the aging population. And when you go on the National NASW webpage you’ll find loads of resources related to working with the Elderly, in particular the Aging Section which takes a look at Aging issues from a National perspective.

So, when I hear questions from members regarding what NASW is doing to support social workers working with the geriatric population, a big smile of pride crosses my face.  And I am sure there is more that can be done.  As always, let me hear from you about this or any other topic.
And lastly, for those of you who are wondering why does Carol have a particular interest in the aging subject and how old is she, anyways?  I want you to know that I have no interest whatsoever, in your age and, I appreciate your showing the same indifference to me.

With Best Regards,

Carol Trust (

Friday, April 8, 2011


Every now and then we find out about program/service that is so extraordinary, either because it is so focused on a population that has not been visibly served or so potentially controversial that folks may be worried about its implications, that it deserves some special coverage with the social work community.  This recently happened when I was visited in the office by Ms. Linda Kenney, President/Executive Director of MITSS. She had been directed my way by one of the Directors of Social Work at a major teaching hospital in Boston who ongoing continually uses the MITSS services.  The MITSS (Medically Induced Trauma Support Services) program is one such program.

Every social worker should know about this service, not only for their professional practice but also for their family’s’, friends’ and neighbors’ well- being.   I will take some language from the program’s written materials to adequately convey the purpose and value of this service.

Medically induced trauma is an unexpected outcome that occurs during medical and/or surgical care. These events may affect the emotional well- being of the patient and/or family members.  It is different from other types of traumas for several reasons: patients and their families may feel isolated because hospitals often are not set up to provide emotional support beyond the hospital stay; the trust between the care giver and the patient has been breached or, patients may feel vulnerable because they will need continued care within the same system that harmed them.

As a result of the medically induced trauma, patients can experience a whole range of serious emotional effects, immediately or even weeks or months later after the harmed experience.

This is where the MITSS program comes in by offering extensive therapeutic educational support groups for patients and their families as well as hotline availability where support and encouragement are always available.  In addition, the program works with medical organizations to provide education and process improvement.

This is truly a valuable niche service- especially during those times when an apology from the medical and surgical team is not enough.

You can find out more about the program at:

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Payment Reform: NASW’s Vigilant Stance

What does this mean for the social work community? How will these new proposals impact the delivery of mental health and social work services in clinics and agencies?  And what about all our LICSWs in private and group practices?  What will happen to the whole ‘fee for service’  payment system?  These are some of the questions that the health and mental health community are asking as we review the Governor’s  Payment Reform Legislation that was released in February 2011.

Let me tell you that the Massachusetts Chapter of NASW is being vigilant.  The Chapter has formed an Ad Hoc Advisory Group of members who are knowledgeable about  the delivery of mental health service in clinics, hospitals, private practice and other settings.  The group made up of policy experts, private practitioners, policy consultants and academia are meeting to devise proposals and action steps for the Chapter to take as the Payment Reform movement proceeds.  You can be sure that NASW will take a stand for social workers to be well represented on any of the Task Forces and Advisory Groups that the Secretary of Health and Human Services is forming.

We are watching, we are strategizing and we are active.  If you have particular knowledge about this new Payment Reform Legislation and would to join our group.  Let me know.

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Local Social Workers Prepared to Help Victims of Devastating Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

In the aftermath of the tragic events in Japan earthquake followed by the deadly tsunami, it is difficult to find the words that express my profound sadness. We all struggle to find ways of responding to this horrific event. However, there is something that social workers can do. The NASW Foundation’s Social Work Disaster Assistance Fund has been established to ‘help social workers help others’. Our colleagues in the Japanese professional social work association are uniquely suited to assess the needs of disaster victims in a culturally competent manner and to provide leadership in promoting effective disaster relief and recovery efforts. Your financial contributions are appreciated. 100% of donations received go directly to those who have suffered loss and are in need of financial or other assistance due to a disaster.

When a disaster strikes, social workers may be personally affected and need help themselves.  They lose their homes, their jobs, and their businesses (including private practices).  Some have even lost loved ones.  Your donation will help them re-establish their lives, so they can continue to help others.

The Social Work Disaster Assistance Fund enables the NASW Foundation to fulfill a key component of its mission statement:  to assist with rapid response in social crises.
Social workers have always been at the forefront of helping others.  Please make a contribution to the Social Work Disaster Assistance Fund today!

In addition, NASW-MA has contacted the Japanese Consulate to notify them of our Social Work Therapy Referral Service (SWTRS).  The Massachusetts Chapter SWTRS team has nearly 300 Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSW) ready to assist family members and friends of those impacted by this horrible disaster. Our thoughts are with those affected by this monstrous devastation.

Carol J. Trust

Thursday, March 10, 2011


How often do we here the word "politics"and immediately assign it a negative connotation? 

Well, I want you to consider this.  There is nothing inherently nasty about politics. In fact, the NASW-MA Chapter has, and continues to, positively affect social change through politics.
Case in point- PACE which is the acronym for  the NASW MA Chapter’s Political Action for Candidate Election arm.  This Committee of highly informed political ‘junkies’ –all lively NASW members – who are hungry for political and electoral happenings, keeps the Chapter and the Association on the front burner of electoral activities.  Because of PACE’s important work, which includes interviewing and endorsing candidates who share the same values and vision as social workers, NASW-MA is seen as the organization that candidates seek endorsement when running for both State Senate and House seats.  Sitting at the small conference table in the Chapter office, interviewing the next potential Treasurer or Governor for the state is a thrilling experience. This is an exciting time to get involved with PACE as the group starts to plan  its upcoming strategies.  You can be part of this worthy AND positive process.

Empower yourself. Join PACE today!

For more information about PACE please contact Julie Balasalle at or 617-227-9635 x20.

Carol J. Trust

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


March is Social Work month- a wonderful reminder of the vastness and contributions of our great profession. And I am  recalling a public education campaign that NASW ran about 20 years ago that is still so relevant, I am revisiting it this week.

The "Say you are a Social Worker Campaign"  called upon professional social workers to declare their profession in all public (and social) communications and venues rather than using other vague titles, which serve to mask our higher educational  accomplishments (BSW, MSW, DSW and Ph.D.)  And to what am I referring? Case in point.  You are being interviewed by a newspaper for an article on your work, or you are at a social event and some asks you what you do, or you are responding to a Red Cross disaster scene and must introduce yourself to firefighters on the scene as you reach out to them.  What do we often hear?  ‘ Oh, I am a psychotherapist,’ or ‘I counsel troubled teenagers’, or ‘I work  with domestic violence victims’ or ‘ I am the Director of a mental health clinic’. You would be surprised how often social workers say describe themselves in these terms.  There is nothing  wrong with these statements especially when they are prefaced with “I am a social worker”, then add, “I counsel troubled youth”, or I have a private practice in psychotherapy”, or ‘I work with homeless veterans, etc.

When you introduce yourself in this way, you’ll be performing an invaluable public education service that benefits our professional and ultimately yourself. 

No professional public relations effort can impress the public consciousness as much as tens of thousands of social workers saying, “I AM A SOCIAL WORKER.”  When you do not it is a loss to the entire profession  and to the public.  The best way to bolster the image of the social work profession is for social workers to identify themselves as SOCIAL WORKERS!  Join me in declaring our profession!  Be inspired by the NASW-MA Chapter's video, "This Could Be You: The Many Faces of Social Work."  Check it out right here:

Carol J. Trust

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

HEALTH CARE REFORM- What’s it all about?

You’ll be hearing more and more about this in the coming months.  Last week the Governor filed a Health Care bill that focuses on reforming the way health providers are paid and the structure under which they are paid. The aim of the bill is to reduce health care costs, while improving care for patients.  There is a lot of talk about Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Medical Homes and Global Payments. And there is a lot of concern about what will happen to the way health and mental health services are provided.  Social Workers in particular have raised concerns about their roles in the health care delivery systems.  Private practitioners wonder if social work and mental health services will be included, if private practitioners will be able to maintain their practices, if they want to be part of the ACOs or even how to explore  the pros and cons of that possibility.

At this point, there are more questions about the new system than answers. But you can be sure that social workers’ interests will be well represented in all the discussions and planning.  In fact, NASW has been meeting with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, along with other Mental Health professionals, over the last several months, to make sure that mental health is an integral part of the reform. And indeed, the Governor’s proposal clearly states that mental health shall be an integral part of the new system.  I was at a meeting last week with Secretary Bigby where she told NASW and our mental health colleagues that planning for the transformation of the system will include the convening of a Behavioral Health Task Force that will recommend and set guidelines for the inclusion of behavioral health in any new delivery structure.

As the transformation proceeds, be assured that the social work voice, values and place will be well represented in any discussions and planning.  And please do let me know your thoughts about the evolving process.  We are going to need your best thinking and advocacy  input.  I am so grateful to our staff and our members for their thoughtful input.

Carol J. Trust

Monday, February 14, 2011

Social Work Safety and Loan Forgiveness Top NASW-MA Chapter's list.

Each legislative session the Chapter goes through a major process of identifying bills that it wishes to file and/or support.  The process involves being in touch with our many Shared Interest Groups (SIGS), Commissions, Task Forces, the Board of Directors and the general membership.  Beyond our own membership, we solicit ideas from allied organizations and groups to make sure that we are considering all the issues that affect our members and the clients and communities we serve.  This year the Chapter filed two bills that focus specifically on the social work profession and is giving priority support to 14 other bills that our coalition and SIG partners are putting forth. 

The two professional bills that directly impact social workers and the Social Work profession are: Loan Forgiveness and Maximizing Safety in the Workplace. (You can see the specifics of these two bills and the other bills on our priority list by clicking  

Loan Forgiveness is essential for the profession to continue to recruit and retain talented young people.  As our members age, (the average age in Massachusetts is 52) and retire we will be in big trouble if we cannot make ourselves attractive to energetic and passionate graduates or even to younger folks who are exploring career options.

At the same time, we need to make sure that our workplaces are safe, so that staff will feel supported, protected and encouraged to work in all areas of the profession.

These topics are the Chapter's top legislative priorities.  If you would like to be involved in the Chapter’s efforts to make these bills become law, please me know.  You will be put in touch with our Legislative staff who will be spending a good deal of their time at the State House and in the districts organizing for success.

Carol J. Trust

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires, which  is most popularly known for its Tango dancers, and great steaks.  What I didn’t know about was its unusual and perhaps controversial system for recycling.  Here is what I saw and was verified by a number of my Argentinian contacts.

Every late afternoon into the evening, thousands of very casually dressed people, wheel their shopping carts and trolley down the streets of B.A. sorting through the trash.  There are three basic groups: the bottle/glass collectors; the metal collectors and the paper collectors (called cartones.)  The cartones  open up plastic trash bags looking for all sorts of paper products but mostly fold up the large cardboard cartons that small businesses leave out on the side walk.

Each group (and in some cases a group is made up of family members from three generations) has its own streets and blocks that  it has claimed, so the territorial boundaries have been set and are handed down to the next generation.

The cartones are a separate working class group.  They live in the shanty towns outside the city and come into town via special trains just for them to accommodate their trolleys and shopping carts. The trains do not stop at the regular train platforms where folks are coming into town for their office and retail shop jobs.  These are windowless trains brought out of retirement, reserved just for the cartones.

And what was my response?  Compassion? Sympathy? Outrage? At first, yes.  And then I thought, “how amazing!”  The cartones have built an industry that creates jobs and at the same time addresses environmental concerns.  How strange.  Am I outraged at a government that allows this or am I impressed at the resourcefulness of a group of people that had no jobs before. Outrage or resourcefulness?  Outrage or resourceful? What do you think?

Carol J. Trust