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