Monday, February 24, 2014

Social Work Voices: Abbotsford activists protest city's treatment of homeless

Abbotsford activists protest city's treatment of homeless

Activists gathered outside Abbotsford City Hall to protest city's homeless response

CBC News,Feb 24, 2014.
Demonstrators gathered outside Abbotsford City Hall on Monday afternoon, following council's rejection of a proposed homeless shelter.
Last week, city councillors voted to reject a rezoning application that would have allowed Abbotsford Community Services to build a new supportive housing facility for up to 20 men. The facility would have been paid for by the province.
Ward Draper, activist and pastor of The 5 and 2 Ministries in Abbotsford, told CBC News on Friday the decision was the latest in a series of similar actions by local government that fail to address the city's growing homeless problem. 
"That was a healthy, small step in the right direction to bring some restoration to our community for 20 homeless men. But, again, our city decides, 'Nah let's not deal with this. Let's just put this off,'" said Draper.
"We keep seeing how consistently the city is either ignoring, putting off or just failing to address a very real issue in our community."
Elizabeth Dow, director of the University of the Fraser Valley's School of Social Work, agrees the city isn't addressing the community's needs. 
"With this decision, it's going to take a number of years to come up with another solution. Abbotsford Community Services was ready to start building because it's an urgent need right at the present time," she said. 
"It's not only the homeless individuals who are affected — all of the community is affected. If we're wanting a really healthy and community-based city, we need to respond to the needs of everyone."
Draper said demonstrators are urging the city to take on what he calls its "homelessness crisis."
"We really had enough. We need some active, healthy, very tangible responses to address growing social issues that we have." 

Homelessness an ongoing problem

The battle between the City of Abbotsford and its homeless population ignited last June, when city crews spread chicken manure on a popular gathering place for the homeless. The city apologized for the incident, but homeless people and protesters launched a human rights complaint against the city a few months later.
In September, the city ordered residents of a homeless camp on Gladys Avenue to remove their belongings and vacate the premises.
similar order was issued to homeless residents living in Jubilee Park in December by B.C. Supreme Court. The homeless people were provided no alternative living spaces in either case.
Abbotsford police have also reportedly destroyed tents belonging to homeless people and pepper-sprayed residents of makeshift homeless encampments. 
The City of Abbotsford has a bylaw that prohibits people from sleeping in public parks, which it says it is simply trying to enforce. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Media: BCGEU speaks out about social worker issues related to privacy & inter-provincial information sharing

B.C. social workers speak out in case of teen found dead in Calgary

Rodica Radita and her husband Emil are accused of killing their 15-year-old son Alex after failing to get him treatment for diabetes.

Now the union that represents B.C. social workers is expressing concerns something similar could happen because files are often dealt with, closed and then not shared.

“Certainly it could happen again,” said Doug Kinna with the BC Government Employees’ Union. “Because a closed file, and somebody moves from one province to another, or even within a province, then stays very very low so the child’s not seen in the community, we really have no way of tracking that.”

When the family lived in Surrey, Alex was removed from his home by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Court documents reveal that despite a social worker’s concerns, a judge ruled it safe to return Alex to his parents. The family then moved from B.C. to Alberta.

“We have to make sure we’re connecting, not just within our province, between ministries, but that we’re connecting between governments as well across the country, there’s just no question about it,” said Premier Christy Clark. “In a world where people are so mobile, because those kinds of situations are absolutely tragic. They are oftentimes preventable, and we have to know we did everything we could.”

The BCGEU said sharing a closed file can be complicated, due to privacy issues.

“In hindsight it’s a mistake,” said Kinna. “But no one can predict what anyone will do six, eight, nine, ten years later.”

In an emailed statement, BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development said:

“Because there’s a police investigation, we are unable to comment on specific details.” Also, “the Ministry cooperates fully with any police or coroner’s office investigation.” And “once a child moves to another jurisdiction, that jurisdiction then assumes responsibility.”

Emil and Rodica Radita remain in custody. The two are facing charges of first-degree murder.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Training: Dynamics of Oppression & Their Impact on Women involved with the Child Welfare System - Vancouver

Anti-oppression training for Child Welfare Workers

In honour of International Women’s Day, the Jane Doe Legal Network is inviting people working in the child welfare sector to take part in a workshop on developing a deeper understanding of the dynamics of oppression. The day will also focus on developing strategies for incorporating feminist and anti-oppression principles into our lives and our work.

What: Anti-oppression workshop for child protection workers

When: Saturday, March 15th - 10am - 4pm

Where: YWCA, 535 Hornby Street, Vancouver

During this workshop we will look at the ways in which power imbalances between clients and professionals can subtly shape interactions and get in the way of building genuine supportive relationships. We will also look at how histories of privilege and oppression affect/influence each ofus, and how we can be allies in resisting oppression.

Along with skills-building, participants will be encouraged to develop ongoing connections in order to support each other in the challenging work of supporting vulnerable families.

This workshop is free, but space is limited to 12 participants so please RSVP here: 

Contact For More Information:

Darcie Bennett · · (604) 255-9700 ext. 102

Facilitators include:
  • Dalya Israel
  • Darcie Bennett
  • Andrea Vollans
  • Marilyn Diaz- Gutierrez

Space generously donated by the YWCA of Greater Vancouver.

YWCA Legal Education Services and Resources


                                          Jane Doe Legal Network

The Jane Doe Legal Network is an interdisciplinary group of advocates, service providers and women doing anti-violence advocacy and community work. 

Jane Doe serves women and girls whose lives have been impacted by violence and/or abuse. We understand that violence against women can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, financial and spiritual. We also understand that violence can happen in many different settings, including intimate relationships, within an extended family, as a child, in the workplace, by a person who holds a position of authority over you, like a landlord, a police officer, a teacher, or an employer. At Jane Doe, we also provide legal advice to women who have fled their home country because of violence and abuse, where they could not get effective protection from their government.

The name Jane Doe is used in legal proceedings as a placeholder name to represent an anonymous or unknown woman. We have adopted this name to highlight three issues. First, violence against women happens in all types of relationships, in all cultural and socio-economic groups, and at all ages. Second, violence against women is a societal problem rather than a personal issue. Third, the name signifies our commitment to ensuring that women who have experienced violence have access to confidential legal support.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Clinical Professional Development: Understanding and Treating Hoarding

Understanding and Treating Hoarding Disorder

Shulman, M. (2014). Social Worker Helper. 

You can’t take it with you.—Kaufman and Hart

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve probably noticed the ever-increasing media coverage over the last few years around the “latest” disorder hoarding. Several cable programs on hoarding have garnered big ratings and endless fascination: A&E’s “Hoarders,” TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive” and “Storage Wars,” Animal Planet’s “Animal Hoarders,” and OWN’s “Enough Already!” And you thought you or someone you know was the only one with this “secret.” Of course, these TV programs tend to highlight the more extreme cases of hoarding, but hoarding is either on the rise or we’re finally starting to come to terms with it. While statistics and prevalence are still sketchy, here’s what the latest research shows:
  • Hoarding affects about 6-15 million Americans.—2010, Time magazine
  • There are over 75 U.S. National Hoarding Taskforces.—2010, Time magazine
  • Personal consumption expenditures and storage unit rentals increased over 20% since 1980.—U.S. Chamber of Commerce
I became interested in studying and treating hoarding disorder several years ago when many of my counseling clients divulged their struggles with clutter and stuff—especially my clients who were compulsive shoppers or shoplifters. I also recognized several family members and friends who were “packrats” and, bit-by-bit, even found my office getting disorganized. Then, it occurred to me: my father had been a hoarder, too! And for every hoarder still “hiding” behind closed doors, more public faces of this disorder are “coming out,” including Micahaele Salahi, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, Lisa Kudrow, Mariah Carey, Kevin Federline, Celine Dion, Marie Osmond and Paris Hilton (17 dogs might qualify as animal hoarding).

Looking at the bigger picture, society has encouraged super-consumerism; hoarding often is its byproduct. When everyone bought a home before the housing bubble burst, we had to fill those homes up, didn’t we? And if there wasn’t enough room in your McMansion, have we got a storage unit for you! Or two, or three or four!

What is Hoarding?

But what, actually, is hoarding? Compulsive hoarding (a.k.a. pathological hoarding or disposophobia) is a hard condition to pin down. While no clear clinical definition or set of diagnostic criteria exist, certain defining features have been identified by researchers in dealing with chronic hoarders.  These criteria include:
  • The acquisition of and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value;
  • Living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed;
  • Significant distress or impairment in function by hoarding; and
  • Reluctance or inability to return borrowed items; as boundaries blur, impulsive acquisitiveness could sometimes lead to stealing or kleptomania.
One man’s hoard is another man’s collection.—Anonymous

There are different degrees of hoarding—from a Level I to a Level V—and there are different things that people hoard, including:
  • New purchased items;
  • Used purchased items (from garage sales, flea markets, discount stores);
  • Freebies and junk (picked out of garbage, the side of the road, etc…);
  • Food;
  • Animals;
  • Newspapers, magazines, bills, other papers;
  • Scraps or parts for artistic or utilitarian projects; and
  • Intangibles (email, DVR recordings, etc…)
Hoarding can lead to many negative consequences, including:
  • Loss of money;
  • Loss of time;
  • Loss of relationships;
  • Shame and embarrassment and isolation;
  • Arguments with loved ones;
  • Germs and disease;
  • Accidents and injuries;
  • Loss of freedom and movement; and
  • Increased mental illness (especially depression, anxiety and OCD)
Beauty is Nature’s coin, must not be hoarded, must be current.—John Milton

Why Do People Hoard?

While pioneers and experts in the field of hoarding are still unlocking the puzzle of what causes hoarding, it’s believed that hoarding has both genetic and socialized components (nature and nurture). Hoarding has been related to obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder but it is distinct in itself. Theories about what causes hoarding include:
  • Getting a high from accumulating and feel pain/anxiety when discarding;
  • Reaction to change, trauma, loss, stress—control over little things;
  • Social anxiety/phobia, isolation/protection;
  • Shaky sense of self and over-identification with objects;
  • Problems with attention/organization
  • Problems processing information/categorizing;
  • Problems making decisions;
  • Problems with memory (too much/too little); and
  • Attempts to experience safety, security, control
If you or someone you know may have a hoarding problem, take The Shulman Center 20-Question assessment below:
  1. Are some living areas in your home cluttered?
  2. Do you have trouble controlling urges to acquire things?
  3. Does the clutter in your home prevent you from using some of your living space?
  4. Do you have trouble controlling your urges to save things?
  5. Do you have trouble walking through areas of your house because of clutter?
  6. Do you have trouble throwing away or discarding things?
  7. Do you experience distress throwing away or discarding possessions?
  8. Do you feel distressed or uncomfortable when I can not acquire something you want?
  9. Does the clutter in your home interfere with your social, work or everyday functioning?
  10. Do you have strong urges to buy/acquire things for which you have no immediate use?
  11. Does the clutter in my home causes you distress?
  12. Do you have strong urges to save things you know you may never use?
  13. Do you feel upset/distressed about your acquiring habits?
  14. Do you feel unable to control the clutter in your home?
  15. Has compulsive buying resulted in financial difficulties?
  16. Do you avoid trying to discard possessions because it’s too stressful/time consuming?
  17. Do you often decide to keep things you do not need and have little space for?
  18. Does the clutter in your home prevent you from inviting people to visit?
  19. Do you often buy or acquire free things for which you have no immediate use/need?
  20. Do you often feel unable to discard possessions you would like to get rid of?
Most hoarders will answer “yes” to at least 7 of these questions.

We are hoarding potentials so great they are just about unimaginable.—Jack Schwartz

TIPS for Dealing with Hoarding… Admit you have a problem and need help:
  • Seek professional, specialized counseling/therapy;
  • Read books/watch TV programs on this subject;
  • Visit the websites and;
  • See support groups (Messies Anonymous, Clutterers Anonymous);
  • Hire a professional organizer;
  • Set a timer to clean a certain amount of time per day;
  • If you are trying to help a hoarder, don’t move or throw out their possessions;
  • Seek help categorizing things: trash, keepers, recycling, gifts, for sale; and
  • Maintain order and cleanliness through ongoing support/accountability
Case Study:

Cathy, a 50ish married mother of three started overshopping and hoarding around the time her first daughter became very ill at age 3. Her husband, Don, was an overspender, too, but eventually became a penny-pinching workaholic. He became increasingly angry and controlling and threw out some of Cathy’s things without asking her. “It’s me or the stuff!” he’d yell. Through several months of counseling, Cathy began to understand what triggered her hoarding and found the skills and support to de-clutter her home, improve her self-esteem and confidence, and confront the underlying issues in her marriage.

Video: Terrence Shulman of The Shulman Center on hoarding disorder

Training: Couples Workshop - Victoria

The Mindful Couple Workshop – UVic, Victoria, BC

Date: Saturday March 8, 2014 

The Mindful Couple Workshop is a one-day, experiential workshop for couples, created and presented by Connie Feutz, MA, LMHC, a Senior Clinician with The Gottman Institute in Seattle for over 12 years. A dynamic synthesis of Connie Feutz’ 29 years of clinical experience, clinicians and couples attending this workshop will learn practical and sound methods for building a more harmonious and resilient relationship.
Discover where Thich Nhat Hanh, John Gottman, Sue Johnson and Marshall Rosenberg overlap in what creates a resilient, harmonious and loving relationship.

Couples work privately on exercises specifically designed to strengthen their connection as well as exercises which guide them on how to navigate difficult conversations gracefully and mindfully. There is no group work or public disclosure.

John Gottman, PhD calls Connie “An extraordinarily-gifted couples’ therapist.”
Saturday 3/8/14 at University of Victoria.

For further information, or to register for the workshop,

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Satir Training in 2014/15

Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy Level I Summer Intensive Program

Residential or Commuters Welcome
(See application form for fees)

July 31 to August 9, 2014

Rosemary Heights Retreat Center, Surrey, BC Canada (just outside of Vancouver)
With Kathlyne Maki-Banmen, MA, RCC, Individual, Couple and Family Counsellor, SIP Director of Training
Assisted by Jennifer Nagel, MA, RCC, Individual, Couple and Family Counsellor

For more information and program outline go to:


Application Form

Other upcoming program are

STST Advanced Residential Intensive October 30 to November 5, 2014
STST Level I Weekends Only Program here in Surrey at Phoenix Center
September 13, 14, Oct 18, 19, Nov 22, 23, 2014, Jan 17, 18, Feb 21, 22, 2015
STST Level II Weekends Only Program here in Surrey at Phoenix Center
Sept 27, 28, Oct 25, 26, Dec 6, 7, 2014, Jan 24, 25, Feb 28, March 1, 2015

For all programs you can contact:
Cindi Mueller, Administrator
Satir Institute of the Pacific
13686-94A Avenue, Surrey, BC V3V 1N1

Job Posting: Child Protection Social Workers - Xyolhemeylh – Fraser Valley

External Posting – Social Workers on Multidisciplinary Teams

3 Full Time Positions – $48,240 - $63,832 per year

Xyolhemeylh – Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society (FVACSS) is a fully delegated Aboriginal Agency providing culturally appropriate and holistic services through various programs to Aboriginal children and families residing on and off reserve communities in the Fraser Valley. Our offices are located in Abbotsford, Agassiz, Chilliwack, Langley and Mission. You can learn more about us at

Under the guidance and supervision of their Delegated Team Leader, Social Workers on Multidisciplinary Teams are responsible for developing a trusting and respectful relationship with children, families and communities the Agency serves. Members of multidisciplinary teams typically have one or more areas of “focus” but have exposure and responsibility across the entire spectrum of the social work discipline. The design of the integrated teams allow our employees to utilize their existing skills while gaining valuable experience across different social work disciplines.


· Bachelors of Social Work Degree, Child and Youth Care Degree or a Social Sciences degree plus a minimum of three (3) years of experience in the human services field.
  • Must be delegated or eligible for C6 delegation in the province of B.C.
  • Excellent communication skills both oral and written.
  • Demonstrated abilities and experience in: developing strong working relationships with children, families, Aboriginal communities, foster parents, biological parents, and other FVACFSS employees; developing contractual arrangements with clients, caregivers, and other professionals; balancing competing priorities; working under pressure; writing concise reports to various audiences; representing and promoting FVACFSS; and conducting investigations, completing assessments, developing work plans, implementing plans and evaluating intervention success.
  • Professional commitment, flexibility, good problem solving and dispute resolution skills.
  • Computer literacy on Database, Microsoft Word, Excel and other computer software.
  • Valid BC Driver’s License; reliable transportation with adequate vehicle insurance.
  • This is an excellent opportunity for fully delegated staff to gain experience on a Multi-Interdisciplinary Team, and develop professionally towards advancing into other career options.
  • Criminal Records Check is a requirement
Please note:

These positions are open to both internal and external applicants. If suitable internal candidates are found, the external candidates may end up being “backfills” into the resulting vacancies; this may include the creation of an “eligibility list” for future positions.

Pursuant to Section 41 of the BC Human Rights Code, preference may be given to qualified applicants of Aboriginal ancestry.

This position is open to all internal and external candidates at this time.
Please quote competition: FVACFSS-14-002 Title in the email subject line as well as in your documents.
Application deadline for external candidates: February 20, 2014 @ 5:00 pm
Forward your resume and cover letter saved as one Word document to: