Saturday, September 28, 2013

Global Social Work: Government Appreciation for Social Workers in New Zealand

Government Thanks Social Workers on Social Work Day in Aotearoa, New Zealand

26 Sep 2013  

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett joined in celebrations with social workers in Wellington to mark National Social Workers Day on Wednesday 25 September 2013.  The day is promoted by the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers.

“Social work is an incredibly demanding and difficult area, and social workers do a superb job supporting vulnerable children and families,” Mrs Bennett said.

“I also want to acknowledge and thank all social workers who work with district health boards, schools, non-government organisations, and other organisations. Their contributions are significant.”

“Social work is tough, and while CYF social workers can often face criticism and blame, they’re far less likely to be recognised for the amazing work they do.”

“Today is a chance for us to acknowledge the crucial role social workers play in protecting our vulnerable children, and the positive difference they make for families every day.”

The New Zealand press published interviews and stories about the daily work of social workers, including:

Social workers job is all about families

Social workers reflect on challenging role

New Zealand association website

Minister’s statement

Standards of Self-care for Helping Professionals

Standards of Self-Care for Helping Professionals Series 2 of 3

Deanna Hooper, Social Work Helper, 2013/09/24.

In my last article, I introduced the Standards of Self-Care that were created by The Green Cross Academy of Traumatology.  These standards are created for their members who work with people who have experienced trauma.  The purpose is to ensure that as a worker you “do no harm to yourself” and to ensure that you are giving high quality of service.

This week I will review the Standards for Establishing and Maintaining Wellness.  This section contains guidelines including:

1) Commitment to Self-Care

2) Strategies for Letting Go of Work

3) Strategies for Gaining a Sense of Self-Care Achievement.

As a Compassion Fatigue Coach, I often see the long-term commitment to Self-Care as one of the biggest struggles.  Most people have great energy for change in the beginning and then life starts to get in the way and self-care is one of the first things to go.  I usually notice this after three or four weeks.

The self-care standards states that we should make a formal, tangible, specific, and a public commitment to self-care and letting go of work in off hours.  This is to include putting good energy into activities that are “fun, stimulating, inspiriting, and generate joy in life”, which will help us let go of work.

Like all good goals, we are to set deadlines and come up with strategies that work and monitor them over time.   I love the last part that states “advocates of your self-care” should monitor your strategies.  Having an advocate of self-care is a beautiful concept, because we know that helpers tend to put more energy into caring for others than we do for caring for ourselves.

The third part of this section speaks to ways we can gain a sense of self-care achievement.  How do we know that we are achieving self-care?  When I ask people about their self-care practices, I am often given a laundry list of “self-care” activities.

It sounds something like this… “Yeah, I go to the gym a few times a week, I do yoga and I cook healthy meals”.  This is great, but I don’t hear passion for the activities and don’t usually get a sense that these activities bring “joy” throughout the day.

While it is important to have strategies that promote rest and relaxation, these need to be “tailored to your own interests and ability which result in rest and relaxation most of the time”.  The goal is to bring major stress reducing practices as a daily lifestyle practice, not something that is checked off a few times a week. It can be helpful to take some time and explore personal interests and passions that can be incorporated throughout the day. 

This can include meditation, mindfulness practices, journaling, reading, cooking, physical relaxation practices, spending time with children/animals/family/friends.  I think what is most important is to foster an awareness of self-care and stress reduction as it is happening.

Those 10 minutes between clients that you take to do some deep breathing is relaxing your nervous system and giving yourself the care you deserve.  I call this “Flexi Self-Care”.  What small self-care strategies can you incorporate into your lifestyle, as opposed to just checking off an hour at the gym or yoga studio a few times per week?

This week I challenge you to spend a bit of time and reflect on what really brings you joy & relaxation.  Then find ways to incorporate small amounts of this throughout your day (both at work and at home).  

See more: 

Standards of Self-Care for Helping Professionals Series Part 2 of 3. 

Call for Presentations & Papers for Conference: CYC in Action IV: Responding to Our Current Times

CYC in Action IV: Responding to Our Current Times

The 21st century is marked with a variety of unique and intersecting issues, opportunities, and political realities. Child and Youth Care (CYC) theory and practice continues to take place within and in response to a range of relationships, discourses, and institutions. Our relationship with the physical world is now understood with a sense of urgency as never before. Globalized economic systems are impacting how we organize on institutional and even interpersonal levels. Technologically mediated worlds are altering who we are, how we engage with each other, and how we envision and enact futures together.

These pressing issues are often cast to the margins of CYC discussions, but are increasingly being experienced by many as central to the work we do and the lives we live. Responding to Our Current Times will be an opportunity to critically engage with these matters. It will be a chance to explore diverse perspectives and experiences that can not only help us better understand our current times, but also consider how we might creatively engage with these realities. Together we will discuss research, practice, theory, and policy as they relate to children, youth, families, and communities.

Responding to Our Current Times is an opportunity to come together at the University of Victoria to share our ideas, generate new ones through critical conversations, and see where they take us. Themes for posters, paper presentations, workshops and salon discussions for this conference include, but are not limited to:
  • Contemporary child and youth care practices
  • Individual and collective healing: responsibilities and risks
  • Economic, social, cultural, and political considerations
  • Social justice and ethical praxis
  • Queer and feminist perspectives on CYC research, practice, theory, and policy
  • Decolonization, reconciliation, and cultural commensuration
  • Human service practices and the material world
  • Solidarity, ally work, and friendship in CYC
Proposals should be submitted online no later than November 15, 2013 and should include the following information:
  • Name of Presenter(s)
  • Presenter(s) Contact Info (E-mail, phone number and Affiliation)
  • Title of Presentation
  • Abstract (100 word limit)
  • Conference Theme addressed
Presentation Type:
  • Paper – 30 mins.
  • Panel – 90 mins. (3 papers plus Chair; General Title and overall description as well as each presenter to include Title of presentation along with 100 word abstract)
  • Workshop – 90 mins.
  • Salon Discussion – 60 mins.
  • Poster/Display Table
Equipment:All rooms are equipped with
  • Video Data Projector
  • DVD/VHS Combo Player
  • Overhead Projector
  • Chalkboard
Any other special requests should be specified.
Presenters will be notified by January 10, 2014.
All Presenters must register by January 31, 2014 to receive the Early Bird rate.

All submissions will be given serious consideration by the conference program committee and will be judged on the following criteria:
  • Relevance to conference themes
  • Clarity of aims
  • Originality
Please note that due to limited space on the conference program, not all proposal submissions will be accepted. Some presenters may be asked to consider a poster presentation as an alternative to a paper or workshop.

Steps to submit a proposal:

1. Create an online account
Note: If you attended our 2011 conference you may already have a login ID and password.
2. Select a Conference Track
  • Paper – 30 mins.
  • Panel – 90 mins. (3 presentations plus Chair; General Title and overall description as well as each presenter to include Title of presentation along with 100 word abstract)
  • Workshop – 90 mins.
  • Salon Discussion – 60 mins.
  • Poster/Display Table
*Comments for Director: Not required.
3. Save and Continue
4. Enter Author Information (automatically inserted based on account profile)
If more than one author, click on "Add Author" and enter information.
5. Type in Title and Abstract (100 word limit)
*Supporting Agencies: Not required.
6. Save and Continue

Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, Co-Chair
Jin-Sun Yoon, Co-Chair
For more information, please contact: Sandra Curran, Conference Co-ordinator, or 250-472-4857.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Job Posting - Program Manager & Clinical Supervisor - Adult Trauma Program - North Vancouver

Counselling Services

Position:Program Manager & Clinical Supervisor - Adult Trauma Program
Position #:13-1103
Reports to: Director of Clinical Programs
Location: North Vancouver office & Community
Closing Date: September 30, 2013

The Agency:

Family Services of the North Shore is an accredited, not-for-profit community based organization which provides counselling, education and support to those living or working in North & West Vancouver, Bowen Island and Lion’s Bay. Family Services of the North Shore also provides provincial wide programming in the prevention of eating disorders.

The Program:

Our Adult Trauma program provides individual and group counselling to women 19 and older who have experienced relationship violence / abuse, sexual assault, and / or physical, emotional or sexual abuse in childhood. Counsellors work from a feminist perspective using a trauma-informed approach. This program is funded though our Stopping the Violence contract with the Ministry of Justice.

The Job:

This is a permanent, part-time, 21 hours per week, (preferably T-W-Th) management position in our Adult Trauma Counselling program. You will provide both program management and clinical supervision for our adult trauma therapists. You will also carry a small case load or co-facilitate groups.

You will provide overall program management as well as individual and group supervision for counsellors in our Stopping the Violence and Crime Victim Assistance Programs and also act as a Stopping the Violence counsellor. The Stopping the Violence Program delivers counselling to women who have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual abuse and / or childhood abuse, as well as trafficked women. Stopping the Violence counselors consider the impact of power imbalances on women’s experience of violence and abuse, and use a trauma-informed approach. You will also participate in budgeting and maintain responsibility for your department’s budget. You will monitor contract program targets and ensure that all required reports are submitted.

You are responsible for all legal, ethical and safety issues related to the delivery of these programs as well as managing critical incidents and helping to resolve difficult or sensitive issues. You will work closely with the Director of Clinical Programs to ensure that any challenging situations are attended to appropriately.
You will work collectively with the other program managers as a clinical team and, with the Director of Clinical Programs, work to ensure that the highest quality of clinical service is delivered to our clients. This is achieved through training, professional development opportunities and other avenues.

The Candidate:

The ideal candidate will:

  • Be a seasoned trauma therapist specializing in the counselling of women who have experienced violence in their relationships, are adult survivors of childhood abuse, or have experienced sexual assault.
  • Have significant experience supervising clinical staff
  • Have theoretical knowledge and experience applying feminist analysis to issues of violence against women.
  • Have experience managing budgets and reporting.
  • Be prepared to take on a leadership role on Agency committees, with community partners and in collaboration on clinical program projects under the direction of the Director of Clinical Programs.
  • Have experience with the criminal justice system and child protection.
The Qualifications:

The successful candidate will have
  • a Masters degree in social work and current relevant registration as well as a minimum of 5 years experience in trauma therapy
  • significant experience counselling women impacted by domestic violence or women survivors of childhood abuse or sexual assault.
Specialized training and demonstrated skills in EMDR and / or other modalities would be considered an asset.

An understanding of how the therapeutic relationship is impacted by diversity issues is also required.
Language proficiency in Farsi, Korean, Mandarin or Cantonese would be considered any asset as would experience working with First Nations People.

This position is dependent on external funding and any changes to that funding could adversely affect the viability of the position. This position also requires a minimum of one evening per week of work.

Please respond, in confidence, to:

Kathleen Whyte, Manager of Human Resources
Family Services of the North Shore
101-255 West 1st Street
North Vancouver, B.C.V7M 3G8

While we thank all applicants for their interest, only short-listed candidates will be contacted. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Truth & Reconciliation in Vancouver - September 18 to 21


B.C. has the largest national event planned in Canada. I hope that social workers in the Lower Mainland will find a way to participate in some of the events. 

The Reconciliation March will be held on Sunday, March 22nd starting at Georgia and Hamilton and ending at Concord Pacific Place, 88 Pacific Blvd.

For more information, see the following article:

Reconciliation events seek to draw together native and non-native Canadians
Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, Sept. 13, 2013.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2013 – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada today released its program for the British Columbia National Event, taking place from September 18 to 21 at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. 

The BC National Event is the sixth of seven National Events mandated by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. TRC events provide an important opportunity for those affected by the schools to share their experiences with the Commission and the public. They also offer Canadians a chance to bear witness to the legacy of the schools and to celebrate Aboriginal culture.

The BC National Event program can be viewed online or downloaded at  (click on British Columbia National Event).

The program features a complete “Schedule at a Glance” for all activities as well as thumbnail sketches of all workshops, sharing panels and circles, discussion groups and special events. The program contains information about two events taking place at the Pacific Coliseum during the BC National Event: a FREE concert featuring George Leach, Inez Jasper, Leanne Goose, bitterly divine, Gary Fjellgaard and others on September 19, and the Vancouver Giants’ Tribute to First Nations hockey during their home-opener on September 20. Survivors of residential schools are eligible for discounted tickets.

Next week, the TRC will announce the names of those who will be inducted as Honorary Witnesses to the work of the Commission during the BC National Event. Honorary Witnesses are public figures who commit themselves to bear witness to the truths of residential school Survivors and share with others what they have learned.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an independent commission established as a result of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its court-ordered mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in the 150-year history of the residential schools, and to guide and inspire a process of reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.

Google Tribute to Jane Addams, Social Work Pioneer & Inspiration

Jane Addams Google Doodle

Google pays tribute to the pioneering social work of Jane Addams and Hull House in Chicago

IFSW, September 7, 2013.

A Google Doodle celebrated one of the pioneering United States social workers, Jane Addams on 6 September 2013. She is the only social worker and was the first American woman to win the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, doing so in 1931. Addams was born on 6 September 153 years ago.

A Google Doodle is a picture posted on the Google search engine welcome page for one day to celebrate a significant anniversary.  It is thought that this is the first time that a social worker has been recognised in this way.  The doodle was only used on the US Google homepage but can now be seen on this website.

The Doodle depicts a pastel drawing of Hull House in Chicago, the community centre set up by Jane Addams, showing children being educated, being cared for by a physician, and celebrating the arts.

‘Addams cofounded the Hull House in Chicago with Ellen Gates Starr in 1889′, writes Jennifer Slegg. ‘The house, which was named after the home’s original owner, was originally opened to help European immigrants, but by 1911 Hull House expanded to 13 buildings and held social, educational, and artistic programs. It eventually expanded to include a day care center, public baths, nutritious food, and additional services.  The building is now a museum celebrating the work of Jane Addams and her team and her contribution to the development of social work.’

Addams suffered from a spinal deformity for most of her life and could not attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo due to ill health. She was actually admitted to a hospital on the same day the award was presented. She died from cancer on 21 May 21 1935.  Her funeral was held in the courtyard of Hull House.
For more information about the Google Doodle read more here

Watch videos about the history of Jane Addams and Hull House and an interview with the biographer Louise W. Knight.

For more information about the Nobel Prize and Jane Addams, visit the Nobel Prize website.

New York Times obituary - ‘Jane Addams: a foe of war and need'.

Visit Hull House museum for information about the museum.

See also the NASW tribute to Jane Addams.

Read analysis of the closure of the Hull House settlement and discussion about a revival of the settlement movement here.

Two biographies about Jane Addams have been written by Louise W. Knight: Citizen: Jane Addams and The Struggle for Democracy, about her formative years, and Jane Addams: Spirit in Action.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Training Events: Family Systems Therapy & Hypnosis and Attachment Disorders - Vancouver

The Miracle of Systems Thinking: Clinical Applications of Systems Theory
with Dr. Michael Kerr
October 18 and 19, 2013
SFU Harbour Center
Family therapy in Action:
This conference will be rich and relevant to both the clinician and the general public. Bowen theory will be outlined and elaborated on and then illustrated through the use of clinical tapes. Each segment of the meeting will have a theoretical component and a clinical example. This is a unique opportunity to see the theory unfolding in clinical practice. For details of the conference schedule go to

Dr. Michael Kerr is well known to Vancouver audiences. He is a family psychiatrist who trained under Dr. Murray Bowen M.D. He succeeded Dr. Bowen as Director of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington D.C. He has published extensively and has taught around the globe. His depth of understanding of the theory and his clarity in being able to communicate it is second to none.

Living Systems is a not for profit society. We aim to keep the costs of our conferences affordable so that all have the opportunity to attend and participate. The Early Bird Registration Deadline is September 27th. A Group Rate also is available. Register Online Today!

Living Systems (formerly North Shore Counselling Center) has been offering professional conferences since 1994. Living Systems is a leading west coast provider of counselling, training , education and research based on Bowen family stems theory.


Canadian Society of Clinical Hypnosis
BC Division Presents

Daniel Brown, PhDIntegrating Hypnosis and Attachment Disorders

Saturday, December 7th 2013 
Paetzold Education Centre, Vancouver General Hospital, Vancouver, BC
Sophisticated assessment tools are available to identify attachment pathology in adults. Less attention, however, has been paid to the development of effective treatment protocols. This workshop is specifically about state-of-the-art, effective ways to treat insecure attachment pathology, primarily in personality and dissociative disorder patients. Teaching format: lecture, demonstration, and case presentation. Hypnosis training recommended but not required.

Dr. Brown is Director, Center for Integrative Psychotherapy, Newton MA, Associate Clinical Proctology, Harvard Medical School; taught hypnotherapy for 41 years. His 14 books include 3 books on hypnosis style. He spent 40 years studying Buddhist meditation and contributed to 2 books of East-West dialogues in psychology with H.H. The Dali Lam. His current research is on the contribution of early attachment to complex trauma.

Registration form visit www.hypnosis.bc.caEarly Bird rates prior to November 8th(604)688-1714,

Reducing the Impact of Compassion Fatigue

May 31, June 1, 2014
Phoenix Center, Surrey, BC
with Robin Beardsley, MD, CCFP, Family Physician

For more information contact Cindi Mueller, SIP 604-634-0572 or or check out our website at

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Global Social Work: Chinese Clearinghouse for Evidence-Based Human Service Practice and Policy

School of Social Work Launches Human Services Clearinghouse in China

The USC School of Social Work and the Chinese Cochrane Center have launched the first online clearinghouse for human services professionals and policy makers in China, seeking easy access to culturally relevant social work practices.
By Cortney Fielding, 02/15/2010.

Originally published by the USC School of Social Work, For original article, click here.

The Chinese Clearinghouse for Evidence-Based Practice and Policy (CCE) will introduce the latest evidence-based interventions in social work from around the world into a rapidly globalizing society beginning to look outward for solutions to modern mental-health problems.

"Our mission is to provide human services professionals, community organizations and policy makers the latest empirical evidence on social work practices that are most likely to succeed within Chinese society, " said Haluk Soydan, director of the school's Hamovitch Center for Science in the Human Services, who will also serve as the CCE's scientific director. "While there have been some successful efforts in China, human services and social science in dealing with vulnerable populations and underserved areas is still strongly lacking. We believe this easily accessible website is a step toward widespread use of these mental-health interventions in the world's largest nation."

Gaining popularity within the United States, clearinghouses are web-based portals where quality-controlled scientific evidence of what works—or is possibly harmful— in professional practice and policy interventions is made available to professionals, decision makers and the general public in accessible and transparent language and format.

Scientific committees assess the best available scientific evidence of the latest research on programs and other innovations in health care, social services and other human services, providing in-depth coverage of a number of high-priority policy topics in social work practice and other human services.

Teaming up with the Cochrane Center, the School of Social Work sought to bring the clearinghouse model to China—a country that has traditionally resisted the idea that its citizens suffered from mental-health disorders similar to those in the West.

But that resistance is fading as China is forced to find modern solutions to its increasingly modern problems—especially where children are concerned.

But once available, it can reach more quickly and accurately train social workers, psychologists, doctors and counselors to work with this vulnerable population more than any other method, said Marilyn Flynn, dean of the School of Social Work.

According to the CCE, unbalanced economic development, a restrictive family planning policy, urbanization, the financial crisis and the impact of globalization have all conspired to increasingly expose Chinese children to complex health, education and safety risks, as well as psychological, cultural, economic and social deprivation.

And while the Chinese government recognizes the situation and has implemented some helpful programs to combat the problem, there is still a longstanding deficit that must be overcome.

When the CCE launched this September, its website included nine carefully selected evidence-based interventions concerning children with behavior issues. The interventions were largely taken from the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, supported by the California Department of Social Services.

In addition to the typical scientific review, Soydan and the CCE enlisted a culturally competent scientific committee to examine all interventions for feasibility, based on their own experiences and expertise in psychosocial interventions adapted for Chinese-American populations and their knowledge of Chinese culture.

"Just because it works in the United States, doesn't mean it's going to work in China," Soydan said.

One behavior-modification home-based program instructed parents to praise their children for appropriate behavior and refrain from giving attention to misbehavior. The committee noted that Chinese parents may hold cultural beliefs about motivation that contraindicate praise and favor criticism. Many believe children will stop trying hard if you praise them and are often uncomfortable with the strategy of ignoring misbehavior.

Duration of therapy was another common concern Soydan's team considered. One successful intervention used in the United States lasted 34 weeks for the children and 16 for the parents. Reviewers worried Chinese parents would feel reluctant to have their children spend such a big chunk of time participating in a program that is not directly related to improving their academic performance, given that academic performance is a focal concern for parents of school-age children.

The panel ultimately gave the program approval.

The CCE said it will grow to include adult and senior citizen mental-health interventions within the next year. In addition to posting research, the clearinghouse plans to build collaborative alliances with community organizations and other networks in social work practice and other human services in China; assist international networks in the production and dissemination of Chinese-generated scientific evidence in social work research for use in other parts of the world; and train faculty, students and agency staff in evidence-based practice and decision-making in the field of child welfare and social work practice.

"We are committed to working closely with professionals, decision-makers and community organization representatives in China, as well as with leading international organizations and networks in the pursuit of our mission," Soydan said.

Job Postings: Resource Social Worker - Bella Bella & FSGV postings

Heiltsuk Kaxla Child & Family Services (HKCFS) has an exciting opportunity for a Resource Social Worker who has a mental health background.

You will be rewarded with a competitive salary commensurate with qualifications and experience. The organization truly values its employees and supports training and professional development in a casual team environment.

The HKCFS offers a family friendly workplace, with fantastic working conditions and benefits, including:
  • Full Benefits (Short, Long, Health, Extended Health, Vacation, and Pension)
  • 1 additional week of paid designated holiday
  • Paid Statutory Holidays
  • Regularly scheduled social events

If you're looking for a leadership position that is guaranteed to provide you with satisfaction - Apply now and read the full description at
Check out Family Services of Greater Vancouver postings here.

Training & Certification in Forensic Child Abuse Investigations & Interviews

The Canadian Child Abuse Association (CCAA) – formerly the Canadian Society for the Investigation of Child Abuse - is now offering the first Canadian “Certified Forensic Child Interviewer” (CFCI) designation to candidates successfully meeting the forensic child interviewing skill standards set in conjunction with the Standards Council of Canada and ISO-17024 standards. 

We are delighted to recognize police and child welfare investigators who meet these standards and demonstrate best practices in forensic interviewing. A CFCI designation enhances credibility in the courts and ensures that teams have staff with the highest skills to handle difficult and complex cases. Abused children deserve the best we have to offer! I am attaching two brochures but feel free to contact me for more information about certification or our preparatory Forensic Child Abuse Training for Investigators by emailing me at

If you can assist us in forwarding the certification and training information to your colleagues, I would really appreciate it as we are working to get the word out!

Please join us on our Facebook site at

Have a wonderful day!
Executive Director

Canadian Child Abuse Association

Visit the website for more information about training and certification:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Justice Institute Training in Complex Trauma & Child Sexual Abuse Intervention & Aboriginal Early Child Development Conference (Richmond)

Justice Institute of BC’s
The Graduate Certificate in Complex Trauma and Child Sexual Abuse Intervention values theoretical, experiential and applied learning that is learner-centred and informed by current research and practice.
This 30-day (15 credit) program is situated within an understanding of culturally relevant practice and how multiple identities, social locations and historical contexts inform theory and practice.
We suggest registering early as seating is limited.
Cost: $5,651.42 plus non-refundable $75 application fee and textbook . All other course materials, including assessment tools, are included.
Instructors: Maureen McEvoy, Cheryl Bell-Gadsby, Natalie Clark, Yvonne Haist and Lisa Mortimore
For more information:
Program Manager, 604.528.5711
Program Representative, 604.528.5834 or
Candidates for this program may be eligible for JIBC awards and bursaries.
For more information on awards and bursaries, please contact the Student Services Centre directly at or call 604.528.5762.
BC Aboriginal Child Care Society 16th Annual Provincial Training Conference

October 17 – 19, 2013, Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel, Richmond BC.

“Treading Softly: Honouring Children, The Land and Our Culture.” 

The primary focus of this training and professional development events is to “translate our culturally rich traditions into effective early childhood development (ECD) programs and services.”

Early-bird registration is now open. For more information visit ACCS.

You can see the workshop guide here.

Trends and Practice Areas of Career Growth in Social Work

This article is American, but in Canada we often follow the same trends (although usually a bit slower). Unfortunately in Canada we don't have the same kind of work being done to examine these kinds of labour market trends in our profession. 

Growing Careers in Social Work

Ashley Dunlap, Social Worker Helper, August 15, 2013.

Social work is a field offering a diverse array of challenges and exciting opportunities to improve the lives of individuals in all sectors of society. The jobs in social work and the human services field are considered to be some of the fastest growing career opportunities, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting growth rates exceeding 23 percent in many areas. Some of the fastest growing sectors of the human services field are discussed below.

Case Management

Human services case management opportunities continue to top the list of growing fields in the social work arena. Professionals taking on these tasks assess individuals to determine their needs and make recommendations of community resources that benefit them.

These professionals maintain a relationship with their clients for as long as services are needed, and they constantly reassess to ensure resources remain appropriate and necessary. Case managers work in long term care facilities, with geriatric clients in their homes, assisting children and families in the court system, in hospital settings and with clients in community corrections.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 27 percent growth rate in this field between 2010 and 2020, making it one of the fastest growing professions in the United States.

Substance Abuse Counselor

Another growing sector of the human services field is substance abuse and behavioral health. Counselors working in this capacity advise people who are facing addictions. They might work in a hospital setting, outpatient care facility, within the prison system or in private practice.

Substance abuse counselors can expect to see a 27 percent growth rate in their careers between 2010 and 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continued growth in the field of substance abuse and behavioral health counselors is largely due to the transition that managed care insurance companies are making, moving clients away from seeing more expensive psychiatrists and psychologists and toward sessions with less expensive counselors. In addition, as jails seek solutions to overpopulation problems, the criminal justice system continues to sentence drug offenders to counseling rather than jail time.

Health Education

Health education is a third field of human services that is experiencing tremendous growth. The demand for healthy living information continues to escalate, and this is leading to an increased need for professional health educators. These individuals often work in private practice or hospital settings, and they teach individuals about behaviors that promote physical and mental wellness. Corporations are also employing firms that offer wellness services in an effort to reduce employee illnesses and cut down on increasing healthcare costs. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 37 percent growth rate is expected in this field between 2010 and 2020.

Social Services Assistant

Individuals seeking a more entry level human services occupation might be interested in a social services assistant position. Professionals working in this capacity provide support to social workers and their clients. They assist in locating resources, transporting clients, completing social work documentation and generally providing support to the organization in which they serve.

Social service assistants work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, government agencies, nursing homes and non-profit agencies. This is an excellent position for the new graduate, as it provides exposure to the field of social work and additional on the job education.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 28 percent growth rate in this profession between 2010 and 2020, a higher than average rate when all occupations are considered.

Marriage & Family Therapist

Finally, individuals with higher degrees can consider a career as a marriage and family therapist. This profession requires at least a Master’s Degree, and licensing is required in all fifty states. Therapists assist individuals, couples and families during times of crises, and they empower their clients by recognizing strengths and teaching coping techniques.

Many therapists are employed in private practice, but mental health facilities and hospitals also offer positions for these professionals.

The growth rate for this field is anticipated to be 37 percent between 2010 and 2020, with continued increases expected as managed care programs show a preference for paying reimbursement to therapists versus more expensive psychologists or psychiatrists.


The opportunities a social work degree presents will continue to see extensive growth well into the 21st century. Graduates should consider the challenges that each area of social work presents, and apply their talents in the area that best represents their individual strengths. In addition, considering positions such as the ones described above helps ensure continued upward career mobility and job security for many years to come.

Global Social Work: Fighting Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation in Sierra Leone

A social worker in Sierra Leone takes on child exploitation


MAKENI, Sierra Leone, 14 August 2013 – Aminata*, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, lives with her four younger brothers and her grandmother in Makeni, the main city of Sierra Leone’s Northern Province. “We don’t have a mother,” she explains. “Some say she was killed during the war.”

The family is poor. For all five children to be able to go to school, they have to contribute to expenses. “I make a little money selling cakes, which provides the money for our lunch or for things the school asks us to buy, like books and pens,” Aminata says, clearly proud of her accomplishment.

Only recently, however, she had a terrifying experience that is still fresh in her mind. It shows how easily children like her – on their own, on the streets – can become victims of exploitation and abuse, and also the difference one person can make in helping them. 

A stranger’s invitation

“I went to the market and saw a wealthy man sitting by the road, waiting for me. I didn’t understand why, but he was sitting there whenever I came to the market,” Aminata says. “Then one day he called me over and asked for my name and where I lived. He said he wanted to help me to have a better life because he could see I was a brave child and not like other children. He asked me if I could pay my school fees, and I said no. He showed me the street where he lived and told me to meet him at his house. He even gave me money for the motorbike ride to get there. And he said that if I met him there, he would give me my school fees.”

In Sierra Leone, children are not taught to question adults, and people with wealth or a higher social status are expected to support those who are less fortunate. Aminata therefore did not question the man’s motives. She accepted the invitation.

“I went to his house and sat down on a chair. He insisted I should sit on the bed next to him because he had some questions to ask me. So I sat next to him, and that was when he started touching me. I said, ‘I didn’t come here for this. If this is what you wanted, then I’m leaving.’ But he had locked the door and started forcing me to have sex with him. I refused, but it happened so quickly. He held me tight and put his hand over my mouth.”

Aminata managed to pull his hand from her mouth and scream. The man got scared and loosened his grip, and she opened the door to a woman who had heard her.

“The woman ran inside and asked what happened,” she recalls. “But I just ran and jumped on a motorbike to get home to my grandmother. I was breathing so heavily that my grandmother asked what had happened. I told her what he did to me. I could not stop crying while telling her.” 

Support and encouragement

Aminata’s grandmother immediately took her to her friend Theresa at Defence for Children International (DCI), a programme that helps children and young people who have suffered sexual abuse and exploitation. Theresa accompanied Aminata and her grandmother to the local hospital for a medical examination. Aminata got a medical certificate and they proceeded to the police station, where Theresa helped with the statement.

The role of an intermediary like DCI is crucial to ensure proper procedures are followed. DCI is one of the partners UNICEF is supporting to strengthen the child protection system in Sierra Leone and improve the prevention of and response to child abuse, violence and exploitation.

Aminata remembers, “It was really painful for me to talk to the police, and I was crying. But Aunty Theresa helped me.”

As a result of her statement, the police arrested the man, who is now facing trial. 

The support Theresa gave her was a major element in Aminata’s ability to recover from her trauma.

“Aunty Theresa encouraged me and talked with me. I was very unhappy, and she reassured me that she wouldn’t tell anyone else what I said. The day after it happened I couldn’t go to school; and when I went back the next day, my friends asked me why I was away, but I just told them I had been unwell. I was too ashamed to tell them the truth.”

Aminata has a few more years to complete her secondary education, but she is already adamant about her future career. “When I finish school I want to become a lawyer,” she declares. “Rights have been taken from us women, and I want to stop that!”

* Name has been changed

Global Social Work: Forensic Social Work in the UK

This article really resonated for me because I have worked in both the youth and adult Forensic Psychiatric systems in B.C. This area of social work practice is very invisible and not well understood at all. It is highly specialized and to me, infinitely interesting.

Clients in the Forensic system are amongst the most stigmatized, marginalized and vulnerable people I've ever worked with. I consider myself to have been very fortunate to have worked with the clients I had in these systems. I learned a lot working with folks in Forensics, as well as their family members and other professionals. 

Learning people's stories, often related to a lack of care in the civil mental health system, leading them to become more and more ill and later, committing crimes while mentally decompensated, inspired me to speak out publically, in the media, to advocate for improved mental health access and systems. Nobody in B.C. is really doing much in the way of systemic, or other advocacy, on the issues of mental health. The system continues to be eroded with no end in sight and no accountability on the part of the Health Authorities, or the B.C. government. This means that preventable tragedies will continue. 

Risk, recovery and relapse: life on the forensic social work frontline

Andy McNicoll hears from social workers tasked with supporting people who have committed serious offences while mentally unwell, alongside managing any risk to the public.

Community Care, August 14, 2013. 

'Is anyone in the red zone’? The question is asked each and every day at Lambeth’s forensic community mental health team’s staff meeting.

It refers to whether any of the team’s 154 forensic patients are showing signs of posing a danger to themselves or the public. These are people whose enduring mental health conditions have been linked to them committing offences of varying severity in the past, who are now (where possible) supported in the community.

“We have to make sure that the whole team is alert to the fact that someone’s situation is worrying,” explains Eddie Wilde, who manages the multidisciplinary team's social workers. 

“There may be symptoms or behaviour that suggests someone may need to be brought in quickly, such as someone expressing dangerous thoughts or ideas that they want to harm somebody,” he adds.

Risk and recovery

This dilemma of trying to do everything possible to help people stay well in the community while staying alert to any risk to public safety is what these social workers, and their nursing colleagues, face every day in their roles as care coordinators.

It’s no easy feat. Social worker Lorraine Spence explains that these care coordinators have seen “everything you could think of”, ranging from compulsive shoplifters to people who have committed violent and sexual offences.

“There are sex offenders, paedophiles, people that are deemed to have untreatable psychopathic disorders. We have seen people that have killed or committed violent offences, things like theft, armed robbery,” says Spence. 

'Forensics is a whole different side to mental health. Sometimes people who come into it without experience can be shocked by what you read about people from all sorts of backgrounds. Anybody can become unwell' Lorraine Spence, social worker 

“Forensics is a whole different side to mental health. Sometimes people who come into it without experience can be shocked by what you read about people from all sorts of backgrounds. Anybody can become unwell.”

The community team sits within the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (Slam). Most clients come to them after being discharged from River House, a medium secure unit at Slam's Bethlem Royal Hospital. Some will previously have spent time at Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital.

‘You don't know what someone has gone through'

The types of offences involved in some cases could see people bluntly demonised as 'monsters' in the two-dimensional world of the tabloid press, but social workers take a more holistic view.

Their job is to look at the person as a whole, not their offending or illness in isolation, and, as one of the team tells me, cases involving even the most serious offences are “rarely black and white”.

“The press doesn’t give people a balanced view. You don’t know what a person has gone through. When I read some histories, you see what someone’s parents did to them, what they were exposed to and it can be horrendous,” says Spence.

When she started in forensic social work, Spence made a point of meeting or contacting a client to get to know them a bit before reading their full offending history.

“I used to work in probation and there was one incident where I had to find accommodation for a serious paedophile and, to be honest, being a mother I found it really difficult. So when I went into forensic social work I decided I would take the person as I found them, meet them first, and then read their full notes afterward,” she says.

Paul Mukasa has been a social worker on the team for a few months and previously worked for five years at Broadmoor. He tells me it's easy for people “to be influenced by what you read in the papers” and admits his wife often asks him (“using language I don’t want to use here”, he laughs) why he chooses to do this branch of social work.

“When you go into social work you want to try to help people. Some of these guys come from very dysfunctional families, some of them are very ill when they’ve committed an offence. That could happen to you or me,” says Mukasa.

Being a care coordinator

So what does being a care coordinator in this team involve? Mukasa explains that a lot of the role is about supporting people to access and link into community resources - employment support projects, community groups and the likes - alongside assessing various risks such as the likelihood of someone relapsing, reoffending or taking their own life.

There’s plenty of paperwork too, including Mental Health Tribunal reports, Care Programme Approach documentation, the HCR-20 forms that assess the risk of someone committing a violent offence. The team also have to provide regular updates to the Ministry of Justice on any clients who are on restricted discharge under Section 37/41 of the Mental Health Act.

Working with police and other agencies, including children’s social services, is also key. For example, tricky cases where patients with a violent or sexual offending history want to negotiate access to see their young children often demand input from multiple agencies.

“We might make a judgement about a person’s risk but child protection social workers might not always trust it or agree with it,” admits Mukasa.

Another element of the team’s work is engaging with patients’ families, explains social worker Yuk-King Wong. She says that people faced with the, often quite daunting, move from a medium secure hospital back into the community are “going to need their support mechanisms”.

“That can be very difficult. Families or relatives have to go through a process themselves if one of their relatives has done something that is quite hard for them. It could be anger, it could be shame, it could be guilt,” says Wong.

'Families or relatives have to go through a process themselves if one of their relatives has done something that is quite hard for them. It could be anger, it could be shame, it could be guilt' Social worker Yuk-King Wong on working with families

“And also, we have to go through a process with our clients to find out where they’re at in terms of their rehabilitation. A lot of the reasons people are in forensic mental health is because they have committed crimes when they were unwell.”

“So when they have been stabilised in their mental health they have to go through a process of realising and acknowledging that they have done something quite horrible when they were unwell so that’s another realisation for them to adjust to,“ she adds.

Rewards of the job

So what is the best part of being a forensic social worker?

For Aimee James, one of the team’s social workers, seeing people who have spent large parts of their lives in psychiatric institutions be supported back into life in the community is particularly rewarding.

“You’ve worked with someone's family, their carers, their support workers and eventually you see them progress through the system and in a couple of years they’ve got their own flat. I think that’s one of the really positive things,” she says.

Wong says similar, and tells me that seeing one client who spent over 40 years in secure institutions “thrive” in the community has been a high point.

Resource pressures

Inevitably, when discussion turns to the hardest parts of the role the unrelenting squeeze on both NHS and local authority resources crops up again and again.

The care coordinators’ caseloads are increasing as part of the NHS-wide drive to close psychiatric beds and shift more care into the community. At the same time the team’s capacity is falling. Spence's social work post will not be replaced and, when I visit, a nursing vacancy needs filled. Access to occupational therapist and psychologist time is also patchy (the team used to have a part-time OT and full-time psychologist).

Some team members are concerned that the pressures to free up beds – an issue across England – is leading to some people being discharged too quickly only to end up back in hospital weeks later. Others feel their increasing caseloads have seen opportunities to do real community-based social work with clients overtaken by the risk management side of the job.

'No matter what struggles we have in this team outside or with resources, no matter how busy we are, somebody will always lend a hand. That’s one thing I really, really love' Lorraine Spence, social worker

Social work manager Wilde tells me that this is the “toughest time” he's experienced in terms of the resources (or shortage of them) available.

“The message from government about ‘doing more with less’ really has hit home,” he says. “We’ve got to try and work out how we deal with that. As part of a wider management team we’ve got to work out what we prioritise. One thing that is really important is that we have the staff to deal with the pressures.”

Wilde says that senior management at the mental health trust “recognise we’re an important part of the service” and says discussions are underway to try and resolve some of the issues the team is facing.

Various “exciting projects” are also in the pipeline such as a social-worker led initiative looking at placement options for challenging patients and some promising work with charities and housing associations, he adds.

“In many ways I feel inspired by the team and the way discussions are going about what the NHS and local authority would like to do with it,” says Wilde. “But everyone is waiting for changes to happen and not just have all of these good ideas on a board. They want to know that the cavalry is on its way.”

is Community Care’s community editor.