Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I am such a show off with my job. I can hardly wait for people (from social to professional circles) to ask me what I do. Really. I used to be hesitant to answer - ‘ I’m a social worker,’ thinking I would get the well- worn comment, ‘God Love Ya’ or ‘I could never do that’ or ‘What’s wrong with these people?’ I feared my vague or inarticulate response could unintentionally further weaken the image of social workers. I was wimpy. Not any more. I am so proud and almost superior when I answer the question. I wait for people to ask me. I am eager to say what the profession, specifically NASW, has accomplished, legislatively, programmatically, and socially. I really do adore what NASW has achieved, the positions we have taken, the programs we have established and the wisdom we have accrued. And I am proud of what we offer our members, like unlimited free consultation of practice, ethical and educational issues. Plus all the discounts, the superb customer service, the quick responses to your often complicated practice dilemmas. You need to know that staff is just waiting for your call, ready to assist. And we don’t hear enough from our members with your concerns. And now you have a chance to be in touch, not exclusively with your problems. We want to know about the benefits you received from NASW membership – the value to you. How have we made your life better, happier, more successful? Send your testimonial in 1-3 sentences, with your photo, if you wish, to me at trust@naswma.org. I am unabashedly inviting you to come forth and acknowledge what NASW membership has contributed to your life. If you agree, we would like to use your comments. Perhaps in FOCUS, on our website and in other promotional materials. What do you say? If we use your comments, you’ll get a surprise gift.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Social Work in Health and Hospital Settings

The Chapter has been partnering with the Directors of Social Work from the major teaching hospitals in the Greater Boston area on several projects for the last several years. This group of incredibly experienced and savvy senior social work administrators is now focusing on how to best prepare social work students to intern at hospitals. The Directors have been meeting with Deans of the Schools of Social Work to figure out the best way to prepare students for this specialized placement. Some feel only refinements are needed, others feel that the schools need to be more rigorous in preparing the students for these highly demanding placements and others feel that interning in other social work settings-homeless shelters, public health clinics, substance use treatment centers, etc- can be just as demanding. The message to me is that we as a profession are always looking at how we can get to the next level of our expertise, our professionalism. This is what moves me every day in my position as the Executive Director. Where else can I grow and contribute to our members, the Chapter, and the Association. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Gun Control, Gun Violence, Gun Safety, and…

The MA Chapter participates on an important coalition that is addressing guns and the use of guns that kill people. The group is silent on the subject of guns for hunting or sport. I think the majority of folks on either side of the ‘Gun Controversy’ (for or against legislation that limits guns in some way) are agreed on at least one point: Guns should not be used to kill people, at least in a non-war environment. (Please don’t interpret this statement as an acceptance of war as an ‘o.k.’ exception.) I am not addressing war situations in this blog. I am talking about those situations where guns are used to kill people in a civilized society: this includes homicides, mass killings as at Columbine and Newtown, and rampage shootings.

An interesting twist has occurred as the coalition works to craft a policy or language for legislation. Some of us in the group ( NASW is one) want to focus on promoting gun safety, others want to use the approach of stopping gun violence.

All of us are concerned with enacting a public policy standard that keeps people safe without infringing on the constitutional amendment that allows for gun ownership.

Mother Theresa once asked if she would join a group that ‘’opposed war’ she said she would not, but she would support a proposal that ‘Advanced Peace’.

I am from the school that looks at what is possible – what we could do rather than ‘what we should not do.’

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


The events of the past month have thrown a lot of us for a loop. I was feeling such great worry and sadness throughout the Boston Marathon Bombing experiences, especially hearing the extraordinary accounts from the Directors of Social Work at the Greater Boston teaching hospitals and the first- hand reports of NASW members who ran the race or who were part of the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health team.

Here at the Chapter office, which is located less than a mile from the Marathon finish line, we had two all-staff debriefings, our Private Practice Shared Interest Group devoted an entire meeting to debrief, and the chapter is planning a state-wide conference for July 12, 2013 on Social Work’s role: Before, During and After a Disaster. The conference will focus on taking care of our clients, ourselves and the larger community.

This morning I attended a moving event organized by the Samaritans, where surviving family members of suicide victims talked about moving beyond the tragedy, the personal disaster to a place of hope and for many, happiness. The common healing theme was connecting with others, telling the story and being heard. Connection is not only a human biological need, it is a basic tenet of social work practice. We call it the therapeutic relationship and we recognize the essential human requirement for individuals to connect with their larger community and neighborhood.

Taking this concept of ‘connection’ to another less dramatic arena and equally powerful one, is the professional role of Mentor. Recognizing the value for new professionals to connect with experienced social workers for their wisdom, their inherent ‘helping’ talents and their practical savvy, the Chapter offers a highly worthwhile Mentor program where the experienced amongst us reach out and connect with the rookies. We are the veterans with so much to share.

This is an invitation to you seasoned social workers to sign up to be a Mentor. The commitment is easy. The rewards are high. The contribution is precious. Just click on this link to get the details, http://naswma.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=219. And as a starter, I am signing up myself.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bombing at the Marathon Finish: Evil in Boston

I live in the Copley Square section of Boston, where the bombs went off yesterday. In fact, I was a block away from the explosion. My husband, who is a photographer, was filming the finishers two blocks away. My daughter lives 5 blocks from Copley Square. We are all physically fine and numb.

Since I am a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health volunteer, I usually get a call from the Red Cross when a disaster occurs, asking if I am available to attend to victims. I did not get a call today and I am just wondering why. In addition, I am wondering about my paralytic response to the sound of the explosions. At first, my colleague and I thought the sound was thunder. Then we wondered if the explosion was a celebratory cannon blast. It was, after all, Patriot's Day in Boston.

At this time, my early reaction is just a realization of the existence of evil in our world. I am sad, I am worried and I am feeling the sense of vulnerability that victims of crime and war experience. At the same time, I am so aware of the level of kindness and concern displayed by bystanders and others.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NASW and Gun Safety

The topic of gun violence is continually before us. The MA Chapter has received numerous inquiries from members wondering what we are doing to address this issue.

Here is a short summary of what is happening on our end and a request to our members to let us know what you think.

First, NASW is working on several fronts. Our particular concern is the issue of releasing mental health records for the purpose of background checks when individuals seek to purchase a firearm. The other issue has to do with a social worker’s commitment to maintaining client confidentiality. We know that there are legal exceptions to confidentiality. Some advocates for releasing records suggest that this would be another exception, in the service of keeping guns out of the hands of previously and potentially violent individuals. However, what if someone has a mental health history that is unrelated to violence in their past, as is the case for the majority of those seeking mental health treatment? What if a person was admitted to a psychiatric facility for the purpose of an eating disorder or other behavioral health issue? Should those records be revealed to the licensing authority?

We participate in one Coalition, convened by Rep. David Linsky of Natick that is addressing many of these. And recently Speaker of the House DeLeo, appointed one of our NASW members to serve on a work group that he has established on the subject. In addition, the Chapter will be pulling together a small work group of NASW members who have extensive experience in working with violent clients and who are thoroughly immersed in the legal requirements having to do with the release of records.

This is an invitation for you to let us know your views on the issue and if you would consider joining a small Chapter organized work group to come up with an NASW position. Contact the Director of Government Relations, Rebekah Gewirtz, at Gewirtz@naswma.org. And thank you for interest in this important issue.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Safety in the Workplace for Social Worker: BIG WIN

We have terrific news from the Massachusetts Chapter. On Friday, February 15, 2013, Governor Deval Patrick signed our Social Work Safety in the Workplace legislation into law. This is a huge victory for the social work profession and the clients and communities served by the profession.

This victory was possible because of the combined efforts of several groups and individuals, including the Statewide Social Work Safety Task Force jointly convened by NASW and the Boston University School of Social Work in 2008, and the NASW-MA Chapter Board of Directors which authorized staff to prioritize this effort.

The passage of the Law is part of a larger campaign to Maximize Safety for Social Workers in the Workplace. The campaign includes:
1. Producing Practice Standards on Maximizing Safety in the Workplace: Tracy Whitaker, at National, is staffing a national work group that is in the process of developing this document.

2. Developing and delivering Safety Training to all organizations and agencies employing social workers: The Chapter has developed a curriculum, trained a cadre of social workers to deliver the training and has begun the training of public and private organizations.

3. Writing a Policy statement for Social Work Speaks: The compendium of the Association’s positions and actions on a broad range of public and professional issues.

NASW continues on its roll to protect social workers and the clients they serve. And the Massachusetts Chapter is leading that possibility.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


In the face of all the challenging and fascinating issues that come to the profession and the Chapter, we have a wonderful ‘good news’ announcement about one of our many dedicated NASW members. If I had a trumpet I would sound a congratulations blast. Here is to Ms. Melinda Strauss, former chair of the MA Chapter’s LGBT Shared Interest Group that has been meeting since the 1980s. Melinda is being honored with several other mothers by Keshet, an organization that works for the full inclusion and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in Jewish life.

Melinda, LICSW, and 6 other women are the founding members of the Keshet Parent and Family Connection, a national mentoring and leadership program for Jewish parents and family members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Jews. This group provides confidential peer support to parents and other family members dealing with any state of their child’s or family members coming out process and to young adults struggling with how to tell their families about their identities. All the mentors have worked through their own process of accepting, understanding and celebrating their children and their identities.

Melinda, dear mentor, we honor you as a fierce and loving mother, a highly dedicated professional social worker and a supreme mench!

Friday, February 1, 2013


Uncle Sam Wants You

Finally we have a serious response to mental health professional’s and other’s call for increased psychological, social and family supports for veterans, returning armed services personnel and their families.

The response is significant. Here are three of the major programs that have emerged for those of us – clinical social workers and all licensed mental health professionals who have a commitment to working with armed service personnel and their families or who may just want to be aware of the many resources available.

First - the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has announced that it is hiring 2,000 additional licensed mental health providers and is making a special outreach to licensed clinical social work. Go on line to connect with a VA recruiter http://www.va.careers.va.gov/mentalhealth

Second - NASW has connected with Army OneSource Behavioral Health Campaign which offers free online courses to licensed professionals wanting superior training in working with veterans.

The national accredited courses being offered are: Military Cultural Competence, PTSD Then and Now, The Impact of Deployment and Combat Stress on Families and Children Part 1 and Families and Deployment, Part 2; Enhancing Resilience, and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Members will receive emails about the campaign with a link to access the online courses beginning March 6. Please make sure that you have provided the chapter with an updated email address. You may also view information about the campaign if you like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and join the chapter’s LinkedIn group.

Third – As a result and in collaboration with Dr. Jill Biden’s and First Lady, Michelle Obama’s creation of ‘JOINING FORCES’ the National Association of Social Workers is developing free online courses focused on working with the many aspects of armed forces. These courses expected to be ready the Spring of 2013. This training model is the result of.

Joining Forces is a comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and services they have earned. NASW has been a proud member of Joining Forces since 2011 and is committed to educating, training all social and preparing social workers to meet the needs of those who have made incredible sacrifices for the United States.

The free online 5-course training module will include military culture, advocacy, direct practice, cultural competency and standards review. This course will not be limited to social workers who specifically work with veterans and military families, but also private practitioners, clinical social workers, agency social workers, policy practitioners, educators, and researchers.

A professional Credential for Social Work with Veterans and Military Families will be offered for one year to all NASW members and is geared towards social workers that work primarily with service members, veterans, or their loved ones.

Standards for Social Work Practice with Veterans and Military Families will be disseminated to all members with the goal of providing a basic level of education on veterans and military families.

These materials will be forthcoming the Spring 2013.

SOCIAL WORKERS: Add to your already incredible training experience and talent with these additional professional opportunities.