Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Peace, Joy and Prosperity in 2016!

Greetings Readers, 

I'm taking a little break over the holidays to spend time with family and friends. I hope you are too. 

I want to tell you how grateful I am that people read and follow the BC Social Workers blog. This has been a labour of love for me since 2012, and the spark of an idea before that. 

In 2015 I started a new blog, Mental Health BC. It contains a lot of links for resources, assistance, and information. On the blog I feature up-to-date research on any topic that relates to mental health. I wanted to create a hub for information, research, information and links where people can get help for them, or a loved one. 

I wish everyone Peace, Joy and Prosperity in 2016! 

I have many interesting things coming up for the New Year. Check out my website to see if I can be of assistance to you, or anyone you might know who is interested in making change and going through life transitions in 2016! 

Tracey Young, BA, MSW, RSW
Editor and Publisher, BC Social Workers

Catalyst Enterprises BC: Counselling, Consulting, Coaching

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Professional Development: Self-Injury Behaviour in Youth – Issues & Strategies - Vancouver and Victoria

Self-Injury Behaviour in Youth – Issues & Strategies

 Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute:

Vancouver: February 11-12, 2016
Victoria: February 15-16, 2016

This workshop will help participants understand the experience and motivations of adolescents who intentionally injure themselves, and provide practical strategies for working with youth.

Topics covered include:
  • Distinguishing Suicide Attempts from Self-Injury
  • Assessment for Self-Injury
  • Increasing Motivation to Stop Self-Injury
  • Mindfulness, Cognitive and Emotional Regulation Skills
  • Self-Injury Contagion

More Upcoming Workshops in BC:

Anxiety – Practical Intervention Strategies
Victoria: March 7, 2016; Vancouver: March 9, 2016

Trauma – Strategies for Resolving the Impact of Post Traumatic Stress
Vancouver: March 7-8, 2016; Victoria: March 8-9, 2016

Violence Threat Assessment – Planning and Response
Vancouver: March 30, 2016

For a complete list of upcoming workshops, visit

Email Amy Ferris

Professional Development: Cybercounselling Online

Cybercounselling Online, Level 1
January 8 - April 14, 2016

This intensive learning course is for experienced practitioners who want to offer ethical text-based online counselling to their clients. Course structure is three 4-week modules (12 weeks total) done online. 

Participants are required to commit 5 to 7 hours per week. Certificates are issued jointly by the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Worldwide Therapy Online Inc. Benefits include a low student/instructor ratio, continual discussion with peers, a forum to practice online communication skills, and personal clinical feedback from instructor.

Regular fees: $1287.00.

New Cybercounselling Private Practice Startup Bundle

Everything you need to launch your online practice: Training, Custom Online Counselling Website & Marketing Support, Clinical Consultations.

For further information, contact Lawrence Murphy (519) 831-9141 or

Professional Development: Online via Dalhousie University

School of Social Work

Workshops & Courses


Early registration deadline is December 31, 2015

The Heart of Helping:

Understanding Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue with Lynda Monk

Burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue are common occupational hazards for social workers, counsellors, healthcare professionals, educators, and others in high-care fields. This 4-week online course is designed to teach those in the helping, human service and healthcare professions about these work-related risks that can result from the very nature of the work itself. You will gain a deeper understanding of burnout, vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue, what they are, how they manifest and how to prevent and/or intervene with the negative effects that can flow from the heart of helping. Discover how to balance caring for yourself while caring for others, in order to stay healthy while you make a difference.
February 1 - 28, 2016 | Online
More Information
Early registration deadline is December 31, 2015

Counselling Skills Level 2: Beyond the Basics

Online Certificate Program with Jill Ceccolini and Debbie van Horne

Counselling Skills Level 2 is designed to build on the skills obtained in the Counselling Skills Level 1 Certificate Program. Mini lectures, discussions, reflective exercises, skill building activities, role play, and case studies will be used to guide participants in their learning throughout this 6-week online program.
February 1 - March 13, 2016 | Online
More Information

Payment in full is required to guarantee your space in CE workshops and certificate programs.
Please note course registration deadlines.
Payment must be received (or postmarked) by the early registration deadline to qualify for the early registration rate. Continuing Education Policies

Continuing Education Program, School of Social Work, Dalhousie University 902.494.6899

Employment: Child Protection Worker Multiple Positions - BC

Ministry of Children and Family Development
Social Program Officer - Child Protection Worker (Growth)
Multiple Positions Available; 
Salary $50,371 - $66,652 annually

As a Child Protection Worker, through assessment and collaboration, you will develop plans with families to ensure the safety of children and youth. Your skill set will include interviewing clients, evaluating vulnerability factors, investigating child welfare reports and determining a plan of action for your clients including family support services.

Working for the BC Public Service includes engaging in rewarding work with real career development opportunities, a benefits package and work/life balance. For more information, visit the Social Work career page.

To learn more about this opportunity and to apply online by January 10, 2016, see:

Attention: only applications submitted through the BC Public Service’s employment website (link above) will be accepted.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Employment: Family Resource/Community Development Worker - Surrey BC

Family Resource/Community Development Worker

Status: Regular Full Time (5 days/week = 35 hours)
Location: YWCA Alder Gardens, Surrey, BC
Posting period: 12/07/2015 to 12/18/2015

For more details and to apply visit here:

The Family Resource/Community Development Worker provides services to single mothers in the Fraser Valley, and provides community development at YWCA Alder Gardens, an affordable housing program for single mothers in Surrey.

  • Offer one-to-one support to YWCA Alder Gardens tenants, members of YWCA Single Mothers’ Support Groups, and single mothers throughout the Fraser Valley to access services, as needed (including child care, employment programs, counselling, finance, education, health, food security, clothing and other community resources.)
  • Work with other YWCA staff to co-ordinate the distribution of donations, services and other available resources to YWCA Alder Gardens tenants and members of YWCA Single Mothers’ Support Groups in the Fraser Valley.
  • Implement workshops and events for to YWCA Alder Gardens tenants and members of YWCA Single Mothers’ Support Groups.
  • Answer inquiries about YWCA Single Mothers’ support services and conduct intake assessments for YWCA Single Mothers’ clients.
  • Provide orientation of new YWCA Alder Gardens tenants and facilitate monthly tenant meetings to support tenants in the development of systems and programs that nurture a safe and livable community.
  • Support implementation of program promotion and marketing.

Skills & Qualifications:
  • Community Support Worker diploma or equivalent with 2-3 years related experience.
  • Strong interpersonal and communications skills.
  • Strong organizational and time management skills.
  • Ability to work independently.
  • Experience in facilitating group meetings
  • Experience in event planning and coordination.
  • Knowledge of issues faced by single mothers and their children.
  • Knowledge of Community Development principles.
  • Knowledge of community services/agencies related to single mother families
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office, including Excel, Word and Outlook.
  • Flexibility to work at least one evening per week, and occasional weekends.
We’ve been striving to change lives throughout Metro Vancouver for more than 100 years. Last year, our programs and services helped 40,000 people. Interested in joining us? Candidates are invited to email cover letters/resumes by 9:00 a.m. on December 18, 2015.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Global: Survey of UK Social Workers reveal universal struggles for the profession

‘Social workers save lives. We are not child-snatchers or do-gooders

Guardian Social Lives survey finds that although many professionals say they love their jobs, a quarter plan to leave the sector in the next five years 

The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Social Lives 2015 research: 

There’s perhaps never been a tougher time to be a social worker. Local authority budgets are continuing to be squeezed, workloads are rising and the arguments over whether social workers are being scapegoated are intensifying. Not that social work has ever been a career for the faint-hearted: complex and stressful caseloads and the media and political backlash if things go wrong have made sure of that.

According to a new Guardian survey of social workers, an overwhelming 92% of respondents feel spending cuts are affecting service levels and putting increased pressure on social workers. This year’s Social Lives survey, carried out by Guardian Jobs in association with Affinity Workforce, shows that two-thirds of social workers say they can’t focus on what really matters in their jobs and three-quarters feel their workload is unmanageable. More than 80% feel they need to pay more attention to their own wellbeing, with 67% saying they have been affected by stress and depression.

Little wonder then, that of the 1,420 professionals across the UK who took part in the survey – across a variety of roles and specialities from children, to adults and mental health – almost a quarter plan to leave social work in the next five years. For those planning to stay, the motivation is clearly the satisfaction of making a difference to people’s lives. “A child said to me ‘I feel safe now’ and that made the whole year worthwhile,” said one respondent. “I like spending time with people, getting to know their stories and supporting them to make positive changes,” said another.

Social Lives graphic

The survey findings tally with what the British Association of Social Workers (Basw) is hearing from the frontline, says Basw England manager Maris Stratulis. She meets dedicated and hard-working social workers all the time, she says, but increasingly they say they are overstretched. “We are hearing concerns about increasing workload and long hours. People are telling us they are so busy they can’t even fit time off into their diaries,” she says.

“There are real challenges of work-life balance, particularly for people who have been in social work for longer and who may have adult caring responsibilities or childcare responsibilities.”

Rachael Wardell, director of community services at West Berkshire council, says the financial pressures on local government are taking their toll. “Our social workers are clearly feeling it and I know as a manager and leader I feel it,” she says. “We don’t see there being much let-up in that. With all the proposals for continuing cuts, the ongoing expectation is that we will do more for less.”

The survey shows that most social workers and managers are doing overtime most days of the week – and for 86% of staff that overtime is unpaid.

“We are already squeezing a lot from our people and that’s a tough environment in which to work,” says Wardell, who is chair of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services’ workforce development committee. “Social workers carry exceptional responsibility every day. We are not training as many as we need and not keeping them in the profession after qualifying. I know that for a lot of my colleagues in both children’s and adult services, the key concern is how to recruit and retain good social workers at all levels.”

So just how to keep those who are planning to leave – and attract more people who will share the values that are at the core of a social worker’s job? Some of the stresses on the profession may be practical ones.

The physical environment is clearly a factor, with 57% of survey respondents saying hotdesking is not beneficial to their work with colleagues. Basw says that chimes with forthcoming research of its own, which suggests too many social workers are finding it hard to work either in old, vermin-infested buildings, or in the newer call centre-type facilities where they struggle to find a desk of their own. Many even have to sit in their car when they need to make a confidential phone call – and often their offices aren’t conducive to the mutual support so important to good social work, says Stratulis.

Social Lives graphic

But wider than that, there’s clearly a need for social workers to feel valued both by their teams and employers and by the wider public. Michelle Lefevre, head of social work and social care at the University of Sussex, says new social workers need to go into the job with a realistic view of the challenges it will bring, but then need the right support as they progress. “It’s crucial that in the first year workloads are manageable so they have time to think and make the transition,” she says. “If you get it wrong, you set someone on the path to stress, perhaps depression, perhaps burnout.”

“People are working with families and individuals at the extreme end of tension, family stress and breakdown. What we have to produce is a generation of social workers who are able to work with that,” Lefevre says.

Then there’s the negative perception of the profession. Many who took part in the survey say more young people would be encouraged into social work if only its image could be improved. As one respondent put it: “The government and media need to stop portraying social workers as child-snatchers and do-gooders. They should sometimes focus on the lives we have saved and positively changed.”

“The media promotes a very negative image of social work that’s quite hard to counter,” Wardell agrees. “Our success stories are kept out of the spotlight, often out of respect for the people we work with, but our failures are everywhere.”

Social Lives survey happiness

But despite these pressures, the vast majority of the social workers surveyed by the Guardian are encouragingly positive about the work they do. As many as 79% say they enjoy their jobs – up from the 63% who said they were happy in their role last year. The happiest social workers are in Wales (87%), followed by the east of England (85%) and the north-west (81%), compared to 69% in the-south west. Many say they still get immense satisfaction from the work. As one respondent puts it: “It is very rewarding and exciting, chaotic, challenging and fulfilling. You feel that all your skills are being employed all the time.”

Yet that passion for the job is being tested by the lack of recognition and support at a national level. “The government needs to stop making threats to imprison social workers [for ‘wilful neglect’]. It should be a respected profession as opposed to one that’s mocked and criticised,” said one respondent.

Stratulis says the wider political debate, such as moves to jail social workers who have fallen down in the job for “wilful neglect”, don’t help either. “I just don’t think social workers are getting the recognition at a national level - if anything they are being increasingly challenged and scapegoated,” she says. “We don’t have a narrative that’s supportive and values the profession. There’s too much challenge and focus on what’s presenting as poor social work. We don’t condone poor practice – but we are saying there are excellent social workers out there and excellent students coming into the profession and we have got to give them the support they deserve.”

Reinforcing and supporting the motivation that encourages people into social work in the first place will be a key challenge as the tough environment for social workers continues. Some feel the creation of principal practitioner posts will improve career progression and help to retain experienced staff, while others point to manageable caseloads and more investment in early intervention.

“Our frontline staff have to be supported,” says Wardell. “They absolutely need regular supervision, they need to be encouraged to develop the skills they have and offered support for their own resilience. It’s our responsibility to create the environment and the atmosphere that allows social workers to have professional confidence in their own practice and to feel supported in their role.”

Lefevre says: “That human desire to help others will never go away. If we can keep that alive for people in the profession it’s an amazing gift to service users.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Advocacy: Wage Stagnation and the Undervalue of Social Workers

Wage Stagnation and the Undervalue of Social Workers

What are we going to do about it?

With this in mind, I have been progressively evolving toward a strong calling to impact change in our profession to improve outcomes for social workers. The impact of the profession and the work of social workers often go unnoticed when identifying the resources to help increase outcomes for vulnerable populations. More specific, I believe as a profession we are not receiving our due recognition and benefit for the career commitments we make to those we serve.

During many recent well publicized contract negotiations in Ontario among many social work professional sectors, it became apparent that we are an undervalued and misunderstood profession in terms of the phenomenal cost that many of our colleagues experience from being professional helpers.

In particular, there has been well researched and documented evidence supporting the personal, professional, and familial toll social workers experience from the sustained levels of stress. Social workers often carry and live with high rates of trauma and secondary trauma in which many experience on a daily basis.

The most blatant inequity our profession experience is in contrast to our first responder partners and colleagues, namely Police, Fire, and Ambulance personnel. There is seemingly little backlash at the societal level with the rate of pay that Police are deservingly provided. However, the rate of pay difference is consistently $20-$40,000 per year compared to our rates of pay.

Even more substantial is the retirement benefits that come with being a Police officer, for example. Due to their duty and risk, they have an earlier retirement age granted to them as a benefit of protecting the public and placing their lives at risk in their jobs. However, many public sector social workers jobs have the same hazardous designation as police officers without any of the support, resources, or compensation.

With this in mind, it is very apparent both anecdotally and empirically, the extreme high rates of psychological, emotional risks and injury social workers encounter from our duties. Using child protection social workers as a cohort, there have been many empirical studies completed on this group which demonstrate high rates of trauma and secondary trauma and it is now well know that adverse events in one’s work carries a very high cost to one’s health as a whole.

Anecdotally, we know that a social worker who has 10 years of experience is likely to be a “lifer” in that they will continue in a social work career until retirement. My concern for us a profession is that 5 or 10 extra years of working carries a potentially huge toll on a person’s quality of life in later years. This is easy to prove empirically with the wealth of research in the areas of chronic stress and trauma.

Obviously, I am very passionate about the life long health hazards of our work, and I would like to see our profession really take the time to consider all that we know about the risks of our work and more generally how to compensate people for the cost of caring.

                        Caregivers (Official Trailer) HD

Global: Moroccan Social Workers bring profession together with government and civil society

Moroccan Social Workers Organise Communication Strategy Bringing Together the Profession, Government and Civil Society

The Moroccan Association of Social Assistants held a meeting with the representatives of civil societies, government institutions, students of social work, graduated social workers as well as a large number of researchers and interested and media to create communication pathways between professional social workers, government and civil society.

Read the whole report and view pictures here: