Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog

The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An Audio Message from Linda Grobman at The New Social Worker Magazine

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It Gets Better Project: Looking to Interview Social Workers and Viewers

My next SW 2.0 article for The New Social Worker Magazine will profile the It Gets Better Project. Dan Savage began this YouTube project to reach LGBT youth who may be struggling with coming out, being openly gay, finding support, and coping with being bullied. Watch Dan's message below:

I think this project does a wonderful job of providing support resources, especially for those with few resources in their communities, and advocacy, being defined by Elizabeth J. Clark, executive director of the Washington-based National Association of Social Workers, as “representing, defending, supporting or intervening on behalf of an individual, group, or community.” While it may not be a complete answer to all the issues the project raises, the project is an easily accessible way to get the conversation started while providing youth with critical resources and support.

To that end, I'm looking to interview social workers, video watchers, and others who can provide insight and perspective on this project. I'm hoping to learn about how social workers can use these videos in their practice, especially with LGBT youth, implications of this project for social work (i.e., what other causes social workers care about can follow a similar model?), lessons learned, and personal perspectives folks are willing to share. Identifying information will be kept confidential if requested.

Please share with friends and colleagues!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fall 2010 issue of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER available now!

The Fall 2010 issue of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER is now available! You can download it FREE in PDF format at:


This issue's highlights include: loan forgiveness for social work students, social work in a public health tuberculosis control program, international social work in Nigeria, the issue of whether a client is always a client, building rapport with foreign born clients, Karen's extensive list of social work web links, and MORE!

This issue and others from 2010 are also available in PRINT for purchase at:




Monday, August 16, 2010

You asked for it! THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER now in print

Since we converted to an all-electronic PDF format in 2007, many of our readers have asked how they can receive THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER magazine in print. I am pleased to announce that we now have a full-color print option available for purchase!

Summer 2010, Vol. 17, No. 3
The New Social Worker Issue 17 (3): Summer 2010, Vol. 17, No. 3
Table of Contents Summer 2010Student Role Model:Nanci Woodsonby Barbara Trainin BlankEthics: Social Workers as Whistle Blowersby Allan Edward BarskyField Placement: Exploring the Uncharted: Creating a New Social Work Field Placement by Denice Goodrich LileyFEATURED ARTICLETreating New …
MagCloud also has an iPad option!

The magazine is still available free of charge in PDF format at our Web site (http://www.socialworker.com), as well.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What is YOUR Favorite Social Work Practice Web Site?

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Which web site helps you learn about your area of practice, be it mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, etc.?  Why is it your favorite?  What can other social workers find there?

Let's start a conversation - I'm compiling a list of the best web sites that social workers use in an upcoming sw 2.0 column and would love to add your favorite site to the list.  Please list your favorite in the comments below or email me (karen@karenzgoda.org).

Friday, July 23, 2010

Regional Mood Map Constructed from Tweets

Researchers developed a map from over 300 million tweets that show moods by time-stamp.  Visit the site for a large pdf displaying the results, or watch their animation below:

Monday, July 19, 2010

THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER magazine Summer 2010 issue available

Hello, everyone! I am pleased to let you know that the digital edition of the Summer 2010 issue of The New Social Worker magazine is now ready to download. It is available, free of charge, in PDF format directly from The New Social Worker Web site.

To download the Summer 2010 issue, go to:

If the file opens in your Web browser, just click on "Save a Copy" or "File>Save Page as" and save the file to a location on your computer's hard drive.

If you have difficulty with the above link, here is another download link:


Articles from this issue are also available on our Web site ( http://www.socialworker.com/ ) in Web format.

I want to extend congratulations on behalf of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER to all new social work graduates!

I am very excited about this issue, because it addresses some very important ideas for all of us in social work, and especially for new graduates.

As social workers, we often help clients with their anxiety. We know that some anxiety can be detrimental to one’s health, but that sometimes anxiety can serve a useful purpose in people’s lives. And that includes our own! So, in this issue, we introduce the concept of New Social Worker Anxiety Syndrome (NSWAS), a term coined by Jonathan Singer and Claudia Dewane. We also answer some of your questions about the ASWB licensing exams in an interview with the ASWB executive director.

Here are some highlights from this issue:

• Student Role Model: Nanci Woodson

• Social Workers as Whistle Blowers

• Exploring the Uncharted: Creating a New Social Work Field Placement

• Treating New Social Worker Anxiety Syndrome

• An MSW’s Life (T.J.'s final column)

• The Importance of Closure

• Rewards and Challenges in Dialysis Social Work

• Paying Attention to the Small Things

• The Visit

• 10 Questions About the ASWB Exams

• SW 2.0: Profiles in Social Work and Technology: John McNutt, Ph.D.

...and lots more!

Please let your colleagues, classmates, and/or students know about THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER, and the fact that it is a FREE social work resource. Feel free to pass along the download links above, and let them know that they can subscribe free to receive notifications of future issues. If you have received this message as a forwarded message from a friend or colleague, you can subscribe at http://www.socialworker.com/home/menu/Subscribe/

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thank you!
Linda Grobman, MSW, ACSW, LSW, Publisher/Editor


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Excellent Father's Day Resource

fyi! What a fantastic resource for fathers. While working on my MSW many moons ago, my macro project was to design a support program for young fathers. While never implemented, I'm glad that at this web site you can now find fatherhood programs all across the country:




More info from President Obama and the announcement he sent out earlier today:

Good afternoon,

As the father of two young daughters, I know that being a father is one of the most important jobs any man can have.

My own father left my family when I was two years old. I was raised by a heroic mother and wonderful grandparents who provided the support, discipline and love that helped me get to where I am today, but I still felt the weight of that absence throughout my childhood. It's something that leaves a hole no government can fill. Studies show that children who grow up without their fathers around are more likely to drop out of high school, go to jail, or become teen fathers themselves.

And while no government program can fill the role that fathers play for our children, what we can do is try to support fathers who are willing to step up and fulfill their responsibilities as parents, partners and providers. That's why last year I started a nationwide dialogue on fatherhood to tackle the challenge of father absence head on.

In Chicago, the Department of Health and Human Services held a forum with community leaders, fatherhood experts and everyday dads to discuss the importance of responsible fatherhood support programs. In New Hampshire, Secretary of Education Duncan explored the linkages between father absence and educational attainment in children. In Atlanta, Attorney General Holder spoke with fathers in the criminal justice system about ways local reentry organizations, domestic violence groups and fatherhood programs can join together to support ex-offenders and incarcerated individuals who want to be closer to their families and children.

Now we're taking this to the next level. Tomorrow, I'll make an announcement about the next phase of our efforts to help fathers fulfill their responsibilities as parents -- The President's Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. You can learn more at www.fatherhood.gov.

This Father's Day -- I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a dad to two wonderful daughters. And I'm thankful for all the wonderful fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and friends who are doing their best to make a difference in the lives of a child.

Happy Father's Day.

President Barack Obama

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Social Work E-News #115, June 8, 2010

Social Work E-News #115, June 8, 2010

Read our latest e-newsletter online now! In addition to the quarterly magazine, THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER, we publish this monthly e-newsletter to keep social workers up-to-date!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Farewell Post From Ms. T. J.

Honorable Clarence Thomas, Ms. T. J., and Dr. Earl G. Yarbrough, Sr.
(Photography by Upscale Images)

I STARTED POSTING TO THIS BLOG on Tuesday, December 9, 2008. My editor, Linda Grobman, and I negotiated the assignment: I would post about my experiences as a non-traditional student earning a Master's degree in Social Work. The blog posts would be about my trials, joys, and lessons daily, weekly, or sometimes only monthly (if it was finals, mid-terms, or "just all too much!").

Little did I know it would become so much more for me.

There were nights when I was blocked while writing a term paper, and I turned to the blog as a distraction. At times I posted when I was in a euphoric state --when my mind was absolutely, positively, fired with passion for my new charge in life. Sometimes I was lonely. The lifestyle of a serious graduate student does not leave space for much more than reading, writing, and research. I wanted to quit a few times, too. Ranting about it brought my frustrations to the surface, where I could deal with them.

I'll admit there were times when I did not want to post to the blog, when I decided no one was reading it anyway, and I was angry at myself for taking on this extra task. Those times were few and far-between, though, because it never failed: Just when I had determined that nobody cared about my thoughts and words (and I'm sure there were people who felt that way), I would get an amazing reply or private e-mail from a reader who thanked me, gave me a great idea, or just let me know they were there.

I have been moved to tears by some of your responses. One person told me they were ready to give up and then found one of the posts I had written when I wanted to give up, and they said they hung in there, and stayed in school for the rest of the semester. Several readers have asked for my advice regarding whether or not they should go to school, and I shared my experience, strength, and hope with them. Many regular readers bolstered my spirits when I was sick (usually during a long break!), stressed, or tired. I am so grateful for you (you know who you are!).

My favorite replies were those from readers who wrote that my post(s) helped them in some small way. It was then that I knew it was all worth it. I became a social worker so I might help another human being to help themselves. The process of writing on this blog was a way to sort things out, and it helped me to see that I have chosen the right path. I recommend writing in a journal, or posting to a blog, to all social work students, and those who are in the field, too. I plan to continue writing until I leave the planet because it is such a meaningful way to "get it all out."

Now that I have earned my M. S. W., and I am employed in my field, it is time to end my postings on this blog. My husband, who was so encouraging during this journey, has suggested that I develop a Web site with a blog, and I am considering that. For now, I want to take the time I need to acclimate myself to my new career and agency so that I can be an effective, professional clinician.

I want to end this adventure by saying, "Thank you." I send a big "Thanks" to Linda Grobman and "The New Social Worker" online magazine for offering to me this amazing opportunity.

"Thank you, Readers." I could not, and would not, have done it without you. I wish for you the best in your endeavors as a student, clinician, and/or reader. You matter in the world--and you are needed and valued.

Respectfully yours,
Ms. T. J.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A 15-Minute Rant

A MENTOR OF MINE used to give me 15 minutes to rant and then I had to switch to gratitude. Ironically I rarely filled the entire 15 minutes with complaints, and she made this a great lesson to pass on.

I am so tired of people saying that social work is a low-paying career! I know many LCSWs who make six figures and I know others who don't. I watch homeless people crawl under the bridges to sleep in my hometown, and many of my social worker friends have warm beds and blankets, high-tech phones, big-screen TVs, nice cars and great clothing. While some people must eat out of the garbage cans in the squares where I walk my dog, the social workers I know sometimes dine in fine restaurants, and are able to stock their refrigerators and cupboards and lunchboxes with healthy (mostly) foods. When I hear about people who can't afford health care, I count my blessings that I will be enjoying state benefits in a few days.

When I was a "glamorous" magazine editor at a for-profit company
, I made less money after 10 years than I will start out with at my social work job. As an editor I sat in a cubicle, and I will begin my career in a brand-new office. Whenever I asked to better my skills at the corporation, my requests were denied. The state paid for my entire Master's degree, books, and travel because it wants to produce a better standard of child welfare workers. In exchange for that gift, I will give back while collecting a salary, and all the while learning how to be a competent social worker. I have to add the grant dollars I was given to my starting salary to look at the real picture, and I am grateful for this. I say this not to bash the publishing world, which I uphold as an honorable profession, but rather to make a comparison.

Some of our professors shared with us their salaries--during various times in their lives and while in different positions-- and there was a wide range from $50,000--$200,000. I can live with that, knowing I can accept more or less based on where my heart needs to be. And that's why I chose this field, anyway!

So the next time I am confronted by, or (God forbid) jump on the band wagon with, people who lament the "poor" pay that social workers receive, I will try to look at the big picture.

~Ms. T.J., MSW (aka "The 15-Minute Ranter")

Friday, May 14, 2010

Three Days Until New Job

JUST AS I AM BEGINNING TO BREATHE A BIT MORE DEEPLY, I am preparing to begin my new career on Monday--in just three days! Many of my classmates are taking the month, the summer, and in one case--the rest of the year off before they start looking for jobs. I have to say I am a bit envious of those who are taking the rest of the month to replenish their spirits, and I am also excited to begin this new social work adventure.

It's always been my plan: apply at the child welfare agency, get the degree, get the job, and then begin the career. The dream has become a reality. That is both thrilling and scary at times.

So what have I been doing during my brief time off (which included exams, LMSW training, graduation, and guests)? I have kept the house tidy (a miracle); reorganized my clothing closets to get ready for work; caught up with laundry and financial stuff; sent off my application for the LMSW exam; begun my schedule to study for the LMSW; and begun writing thank you notes for all the wonderful gifts I received for graduation. I am watching movies and T. V., and reading Anne Quindlen's newest book, "Every Last One," in which there is a character who is a great therapist (so far).

Just thought I'd check in.

~Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Social Work E-News, Issue #114, May 11, 2010

Social Work E-News, Issue #114, May 11, 2010

Read our latest e-newsletter. This is THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER's Social Work E-News, a monthly FREE newsletter that currently goes out to 27,500+ subscribers. It is free to subscribe!

Monday, May 10, 2010


IT'S OFFICIAL. I can now add those three initials to my name. What a weekend it has been! I received my degree during a three-hour ceremony that included a commencement speech by the Honorable Clarence Thomas. After the prelude, procession, invocation, address, and presentation of awards and candidates, we were conferred our Masters' degrees.

Once we exited via Recessional, my husband whisked me home where 30 or more of my dearest friends awaited. We celebrated for a good five hours and then went on to a dear friend's home for yet another celebration.

As the weekend comes to an end, I am counting my blessings and praising my Higher Power for all the gifts that this graduate school adventure has included.

~Ms. T. J.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two Sleeps Til Graduation

is almost here. It's been five days since I've had to do anything school-related, and I am finally beginning to relax. There are many preparations for this milestone celebration. Slowly but surely, I am ticking them off my list. I am a pretty good planner, so I have been taking care of business for several months (ordering invitations, gown, cap, hood, honors cords, hiring a caterer, etc.)

I picked up my mother-in-law from the airport this afternoon. I am so happy she is here to celebrate with me. My family members do not travel, and I know they will be thinking of me on my special day. My "family of creation" will be here, however, and I am filled with joy for their presence in my life.

When I came home today, there was a box of flowers in the kitchen. I opened the box and was so excited to read a note from a dear, long-time friend. She is so thoughtful and kind. She has always been there--since junior high school, all the way through college--and for many years thereafter. She read a psalm at my wedding, I rocked her twin babies to sleep, and we have spent memorable bits and pieces of time together over the years. She is in Illinois, and I in Georgia, yet no matter how much time lapses, we fall back into place and it seems like it was only yesterday that we were acting in plays and practicing speeches together in high school, or skipping sociology classes during the summer semester at UW-Oshkosh.

I am touched that she always remembers, and I will try to never forget...

~Ms. T. J.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Graduation Day: One Week From Today

AS I TYPE at 9:27 a.m., it occurs to me that on this day, at this time next week, my classmates and I will be preparing to walk across the stage to get our diplomas.

After that, we will go our separate ways--some of us may celebrate together--but for the most part, we will head off with our families and friends to eat, drink and make merry.

It's heady stuff, these endings and beginnings. I ticked off my assignments, papers, presentations, and exams last week, knowing each one signified the end of this adventure. It was not lost on me that as much as I stressed over the workload, I had also taken a great deal of comfort in the academia track I was on.

It's over. No more pencils, no more books ... you know the rhyme. I am relieved; I am ecstatic; I am filled with gratitude; and I am sad.

As I walk through the next days preparing the house for guests and planning for graduation day, I will allow myself to take it all in: the joy, the light, the love, and the change.

~Ms. T. J.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Field Instructor Luncheon

TODAY WE SAID THANK YOU to our field instructors. These are the men and women who took us under their wings at our internships. They plotted our journey and guided us along the way all these days and months while we learned how to work in the field of social work.

We treated them to a delicious lunch of chicken, fish, greens, macaroni and cheese, chocolate cake and peach cobbler. We said nice things to and about them. We gave them presents and hugs. We recited poems and letters. And some of us cried.

Here is what I wrote and read to my field instructor (FYI: the references to the peach are because whenever you ask her how she is she always replies, "Just peachy!")

Thank You, _____!
You are a real

Thank you for Thursday mornings at 9-ish (supervision)
Thank you for listening
Thank you for teaching
Thank you for NOT candy-coating the realities of the job
Thank you for noticing when I needed to talk
Thank you for the feedback and the praise
Thank you for working in the solution and not the problem — and we all know there are plenty of challenges
Thank you for being so easy to talk to and even easier to trust
Thank you for telling it like it is, with your cup always half-full
Thank you for modeling the behavior that I want to emulate
Most of all thank you for being real and for letting me know that life at the agency can be PEACHY!

With great appreciation and respect,
Ms. T. J., M.S.W. Candidate


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The FINAL final

THIS IS IT. The end of this adventure. My last final exam ever in grad school. Can I just say my will to study has left me. I'm all set up: I've got the flashcards and books in front of me. The flashcards are empty. The books are closed.

I need to study, but my mind and body are rebelling. School's out, and the internship is over. Why should I have to study for a dang test?

So, I'll post on my blog instead.

Someone asked what was the hardest part of graduate school. I should have told them to read my posts. It's all right here: the triumphs, the tough times, the days I wanted to give up, and the events that made it all worthwhile.

So, send me your best study energy, or give me a hard time about being slack at the very end. Let me know you are out there--doing this deal, or thinking about it. That way I can read your comments and NOT study some more!

~Ms. T. J. (who is going to start right now!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Last Day of Classes!

I HAVE BEGUN several posts this week and fatigue would hit me half-way through, and I'd stop writing. There are unfinished drafts about my last day at field practicum (Wednesday), when I finished my last presentation for today, and all the feelings that I was having during this week.

Even if this post makes no sense at all, I am going to finish it! I am operating on very little sleep (four hours to be exact!).

Today was our last day of classes. No more pencils, no more books... I don't think it has sunk in. I've had several surges of joy, and yet the reality of all of this is just not tangible at this moment.

I have one final exam on Thursday, and I plan to complete all my field journals by then, too. We have a field instructor's luncheon on campus that day, and I'll be taking the test, and handing in my final journals after the event.

I am really tired so I am going to quit typing. It was important to jot this down on the day it happened!

Ms. T. J.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's left to do...

ONE MORE WEEK OF CLASSES and 14 hours of my internship. I've got my two biggest papers behind me. What's left for school: A PowerPoint/poster presentation for Clinical II, my field journals, a short paper about the field experience; and one final written exam.

What's left outside of school: my agency exam (4-30); and the LMSW exam (I will be compiling my packet and calling to register within the next week or so).

Think I'll finish the PowerPoint today, work on the rest of the agency modules, and take a day at the beach tomorrow. Then I'll finish up my internship (move into my new office) by Wednesday, and spend Thursday finishing up the field journals and paper.

I'll attend a class on Friday, and two on Saturday (including Clinical II, where I'll present my PowerPoint). Then no more classes, no more books (honestly I've already shelved most of my books!)....

We have a field instructor luncheon April 29. Our University is providing two LMSW prep classes (which is awesome!) and we had the first one yesterday. The second class is May 1.

I am happy to report that it feels really manageable. I hope you are in a manageable place, too.

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saw My New Office Today

IT'S OFFICIAL. I saw it with my own two eyeballs. The memo that said I was hired, the department where I will be working, the floor I'll be on, and my office number. So I took the elevator up to the fifth floor and took a peek at my new digs. I am in an interior office; no windows. Call me zany, but I have had three offices and two cubicles here, and the interior offices felt cozier to me. I usually closed the blinds, anyway, to better see my computer when I was in the offices with windows.

Glass half full? Yup.

Am I nervous? Yup. Am I excited? Yup. Do I have any regrets? Nope.

My last day of the internship is April 21; the last day of class is April 24. I will have a work exam and a final exam the last week in April. Graduation is May 8. I will start my job May 17. I will have a good bit of "me time" until then--so I can unwind.

It's official...

~Ms. T. J.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Can Do This

I AM SO CLOSE TO FINISHING ALL OF MY ASSIGNMENTS. And this week is testing me a little. Well, maybe more than a little. I have two papers--BIG ones ... and I am in a migraine cycle. Yup. It really sucks. Plus, my husband flew to New Orleans this morning--at 5:30 a.m. Yup; I was his 3:30 a.m. driver.

So, I think I will count my blessings to try to gain perspective:
  • The house is quiet--just me and the dog. Not that my husband makes a lot of racket, but I am looking for a silver lining here.

  • I was given a reprieve on a BIG exam for my new job. I asked if I could take it later, after graduation, yet before I start the job--and they said yes. (If you don't ask, the answer will always be "No.")

  • I get the bed to myself which will be helpful with the headache. I could always sleep in the guest room if my husband was home, and again, looking for the gratitude...

  • I have field practicum, and it's NOT a job, yet, so if I go home early, or call in sick for that matter, I am not letting any clients down.

  • I am making progress on my papers. Migraines don't help with concentration or focus, but it could be worse; I could be in the fetal position.

  • My prof would probably give me a break if I need one; I have never asked for one, so if worse came to worse, he might be understanding.

  • I am able to see, hear, walk, talk, taste and smell ... and for these gifts, I am eternally thankful.

~Ms. T. J.

Google and Facebook raise new issues for therapists and their clients

Interesting article in the Washington Post titled "Google and Facebook raise new issues for therapists and their clients."  Here's an excerpt:

In fact, the tremendous availability online of personal information threatens to alter what has been an almost sacred relationship between therapist and patient. Traditionally, therapists obtained information about a patient through face-to-face dialogue. If outside information was needed, the therapist would obtain the patient's consent to speak with family members or a previous mental-health practitioner. At the same time, patients traditionally knew little about their therapists outside the consulting room. Now, with the click of a mouse, tech-savvy therapists and patients are challenging the old rules and raising serious questions about how much each should know about the other and where lines should be drawn.

Among the questions under debate:
  • Should a therapist review the Web site of a patient or conduct an online search without that patient's consent?
  • Is it appropriate for a therapist to put personal details about himself on a blog or Web site or to join Facebook or other social networks?
  • What are the risks of having patients and therapists interact online?
Read the whole article here.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pure Clover Honey and Tulsi Tea


I was at my internship and I was thinking "I have to know everything about everything (adoption and initial placement)," and I could hardly breathe, and I was trying to finish my training modules, and I was worried because I couldn't find my mentor, and I wasn't hungry, and I was famished, and I was irritable.

Then at dinner with my husband I ran into my Title IV-E coordinator who told me the exam for training would be next week (ACK!), and I felt like I was over-eating, and the restaurant was noisy, and my sweet husband was patient, and he told me I looked wonderful.

We went to a favorite store, and found the outdoor chairs we've been seeking for our "shelter house" he built in the backyard, and there were so many beautiful seat cushions, and we learned that there would be a 25 per cent off sale on Thursday, and we were excited.

We came home, and I brewed myself a cup of Tulsi tea (red mango, caffeine free, organic, abundant in rooibos and antioxidants). It is called the "Queen of Herbs" --revered throughout India as sacred, and infused with healing power that "relieves the body's negative reaction to stress."

I added pure clover honey (straight from the honey bear) and suddenly I feel better! I worked on my family intervention analysis paper and I really think the tea helped me...

These are the days
~Ms. T. J.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Big Overwhelm


So here it is--32 days from graduation (May 8), 20 days left of the semester (April 24), and three weekends of classes to attend. I have three papers, a journal assignment and a final exam to complete and then I will be finished. In addition to that, I will complete several modules for the child welfare agency that I am currently interning with, and will be employed by(!) on May 17. On the very top of all of this (right beside the cherry), I want to study for the Master's Exam.

{insert silent scream here}

I am writing this post for two reasons: 1.) to release tension, and 2.) to help another student who might be out there feeling overwhelmed, too.

These are the days we will probably not remember in the days, months, and years to come. Like my Dad used to say about stuff that was troubling me when I was just a child: "You'll forget all about this by the time you get married." Back then it was a skinned knee or a lost toy; today it's a Master's degree. Go figure!

A quote from a meditation book I keep close at hand states:

On accepting your path through life:

Your way is decided
There is nothing you will not be told,
if you acknowledge this.

So be it.

~Ms. T. J.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Homework Countdown

ONE FAMILY INTERVENTION ANALYSIS (due date April 10). One Clinical II final exam paper (due date April 16). Part three of the integrative seminar paper (due date April 17). Field practice journals (due date April 24). One final exam (test date April 24 0r May 1).

Can I say Senior-itis? UGH! I am going to finish them in order of their due dates. It feels a bit overwhelming tonight, but I am going to pick away at them in the days to come until they are completed. If I could offer any advice to new students, it would be to do things in order, on a schedule, unless you just want to do something first to get it off your plate. I find that it is less stressful if I just do things in the order they are due; that way I get assignments in on time.

A few weeks ago, right after mid-terms, we had two big papers due. It was maddening. That week, for me, was tougher than the actual mid-term week. I stayed with it, though, and I ended up getting an A on a really tough project. Our professor commented that we were getting tired. It was true. I was exhausted! But I stayed the course, and finished everything in good time. I pulled an all-nighter; it was the second one in the two-and-a-half years I've been in school.

Right now, I am working on the Family Intervention Analysis paper. It's a doozy! The class is a doctorate level course; it's a terrible thing to do to an MSW student during the last semester.

Good luck to you as we head into the end of the semester. If you are getting ready to graduate, hang in there! You can do it.

~Ms. T. J.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Got the call; Got the offer; God is good.


The polished HR professional called to make an offer. I let him tell me all about it and "sell me" a little. I listened as he talked salary, and hire date, and orientation. He explained the job and the fast-track possibilities and the benefits. I asked questions and had him repeat some information so I could write it all down.

And then, I accepted the offer.

Wow. It's still 36 days from graduation and I have a job. While many folks are unemployed, I will soon have a new career (and a paycheck). Do I feel grateful? You bet I do.

For all of you soon-to-be or wanna-be Social Workers, let this be a beacon of hope for you. Getting your B.S.W. or M.S.W. is worth it! There are jobs out there. For YOU! If you decide to "do the deal," go the extra mile, work like you mean it, and love what you are working toward, you will find a place to begin your career. The world needs us--more than ever!

I was awarded the Title-IV-E grant from the state at the onset of my MSW education, but that did not guarantee that I would be hired. Yes, the state hopes they will hire us as we are an "investment" for them. But I have heard of many Title IV-E grant recipients who did not get hired. We are thrown into the applicant pool like every other person--and it's competitive.

As I get ready to settle in for the night after a celebratory dinner with my husband, I am counting my blessings. I am also grateful for what I have brought to the table these past days, months, and years. I have been a dedicated student, a diligent worker at my internship, and a good person. I don't take the credit, however. I know that I was created by a Higher Power, and that Source has guided me every step of the way.

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Job Interview No. 1

I BELIEVE THE INTERVIEW WENT VERY WELL. And while it was no walk in the park, I think I have a good chance at getting the job. There were three components: the interview; a short written exercise; and a typing exam (more for form and accuracy than speed). I was impressed with the caliber of the interview team, as well as the fact that the government social service agency takes the business of child welfare so seriously.

The HR team's interview process was streamlined, and I was the last interview of the day. This made my day a bit maddening; I would much rather have gotten it over with in the morning when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

When they asked me where I wanted to work, I told them that I was more interested in the ongoing units, and that I think Foster Care might be a good place for me to start. I have only worked on the placement unit for one day! I am basing this on what I have heard and witnessed--not on what I have done. My entire internship has been on the CPS side of the agency. It would actually be easier for me to work on that side because I have the most experience there. But I am drawn to Foster Care.

I am going to turn this over to my Higher Power because at this moment in time, if I get a job offer, I don't really know where my best fit may be. And there may be more than one "great fit." What I know is that I have officially left my comfort zone. It is a thing of the past!

My hopes and prayers are that I will continue to be teachable, that I will continue to be divinely led, that I will continue to be willing to step out--to leap in faith, and to trust that all is well.

~Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The other side of the house--and a job interview

TOMORROW I MOVE INTO PLACEMENT at my field practicum. I have been on the CPS side of the child welfare agency ever since I started my internship back in Fall 2009.

I have always been drawn to Foster Care. Now is my opportunity to find out if it's a good fit for me. With just a few short weeks left in field placement, I want to experience as much as I can before I consider a position.

Oh, did I mention I have my first interview on Wednesday?

I was really excited when I got the call last week. I'll "go upstairs" at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Please send lots of light!

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Layers of the onion

SOMETIMES IT'S ALL TOO MUCH. Really. You go on a home visit. The house is filthy--and when you sit down on the couch you feel your feet sticking to places on the carpet. Boxes of perishable food are stacked on the floor in in the middle of the living room, and once-cold packages of apple sauce and other foods are sweating as they adjust to the room's temperature.

A dryer is set up in the dining room, and there are no table or chairs--no sign of habitation, really, throughout the rooms nor on the walls of this place. As you head into the kitchen you notice a virtual colony of insects congregating on the linoleum. Roaches--the German kind--are flitting across the floor in broad daylight, followed by other creepy-crawly things, and flies. When Mom opens the refrigerator door, the stench from inside almost knocks you over, and you steel yourself so as not to appear unkind.

Glancing at the carpet, you see coins and staples, bits and pieces of paper, and other indistinguishable things scattered about. "Is your child crawling yet?" you ask, as he is not at home for you to observe.

"Oh, yes, he's crawling and getting into everything!" Mom replies, proudly beaming from ear to ear.

Picking up a coin, a staple, and some scraps of paper you explain how dangerous these could be for a young child, were he to put them in his mouth, which he is normally apt to do. You talk about the importance of cleaning the floors in general, inquire about the bug issues, and discuss solutions.

You peek into the bedrooms, and it is impossible to see the child's bed, and most of the mother's bed, as clothing is heaped high upon each of them. You ask where the child sleeps and Mom has to take you into the small room and point directly at the area. You see a little bit of a headboard poking out of the laundry piles. Mom explains that she is cleaning out her closet, but it's evident that the room has been like this for sometime.

When the representative from the lab comes to get a urine sample for analysis, he spends a long time searching the bathroom and having Mom remove various bottles of shampoos, soaps, etc. After he finishes, he stands outside the door waiting and listening. Mom reports that she is unable to void. He leaves with an empty cup.

After an in-depth interview, you leave the home, taking with you the smell of stale cigarette smoke and feeling like you need a long scrub in a hot shower.

Where to begin? There are so many places to start. How about right where she is?

~Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Learning to be flexible

FIVE. That's the number of work spaces I've inhabited since I began my internship back in the Fall of 2009. On the bright side, I've gotten the lay of the land in my agency like nobody's business!

I am happy to report this move was an upgrade. Once again I am in an office rather than a cubicle. I started in a cubicle, moved into an office, then into another office, back into a cubicle, and now I am in an office. These are all different offices and cubicles, mind you. I say this not to complain but rather to let you know that the only thing certain about an internship is the uncertainty!

I have learned many things while at this agency, and I believe one of my biggest lessons has been the one I've learned about attachment--or more specifically, detachment. In some 12-step programs detachment is defined as "letting go with love." I can't say that applies exactly, but my attachment to attachment has been a fickle source of comfort for me over the years.

Change is imminent, and while I like to try new things, travel to new places, and meet new people, I have also found it comforting to be in positions which offered a sense of security and routine.

This internship is not like that.

Every day that I walk in, I never really know what's in store for me, or if I'll be in the same space. And, as surprising as it is to me, I like it. The lack of structure is liberating in a way that is hard to describe. I like the not knowing! I like not being in charge of my day, to some extent. And, I enjoy the challenge of it all.

Today I worked until 7 p.m. and it felt like I was only there for a few hours. I know this isn't something I can keep doing as an intern, and yet today it felt really great to be working on a project, and seeing it through to the end.

As crazy as this sounds--even to me--I can't wait to go back tomorrow!

~Ms. T. J.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Healthcare Bill Divides Friends?

I WOULDN'T BELIEVE IT IF IT HADN'T HAPPENED TO ME. Today I was snubbed by a "friend" who isn't in favor of the health care bill! I guess he doesn't like my politics--and you know--I don't like his either, but I treated him as I always do, with a hug and a smile. But I could tell he was holding my viewpoint against me.

Gone are the days when I hold in my thoughts, beliefs, values, ideas to make someone like me. Getting this Master's degree has changed me. Hallelujah!

~Ms. T. J.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Three Days Left

WHERE DID YOU GO THIS SPRING BREAK? The beach? The mountains? Home to see your family? Did you stay at school and catch up with your work? Whatever you did and wherever you went, I hope you had a great time.

Me? Oh, I've been in bed. Alone. With the flu. Yep. My husband had it, too. We decided we'd rest better apart. That coughing can really cut into hard-won slumber.

Homework? Nope. Didn't have any focusing abilities. I tried. I even started a power point presentation I need to give in a couple weeks. I think I set up three slides.

Reading? Here and there--in between feverish, sleepless hours tangled up in the sheets.

Did I bathe? Now you are getting personal! Well, um, perhaps I splashed some water on my face and brushed my teeth.

Drink a lot of fluids? Yup.

Eat? Not very much. Funny how the appetite can vanish when a bit of nourishment would do a world of good.

See the light of day? Nope. Fortunately it was dreary and chilly most of the time--okay so maybe the sun came out, but hey, if a tree drops in the forest...you know the story--I wasn't there to see it, so hey, did it shine?

Talk to anybody? Lucky for me, I have persistent, loving friends. So I didn't isolate as badly as I could have, given the hibernation-type behavior I have been exhibiting. One dear friend even drove me to my massage therapist's home so I could get some reflexology. I believe it made a difference. The massage, and the company of my friend.

Feeling better? Yep. Drove my car today. Went to the store to get some more orange juice. Took the dog around the block. The sun was shining and the temp was in the high 60s!

Three days of break left? Hurray!

I am grateful for my usual state of good health. I shall not take it for granted for a long time!

~Ms. T. J.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Final Spring Break

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT: I am sick during spring break! My husband was really sick last week and despite all my preventive efforts, I am now down with a cold, too.

Is the universe trying to slow me down? Is it, like Carolyn says, normal for the body to hang on when you need it to, and let go when you don't? I am definitely paraphrasing and hopefully I got it right.

I have been doing a lot of sleeping, something I am certain I need. The house is so quiet and peaceful. I believe I need that, too. My energy level is so low, I can't muster up enough of it to do much of anything except, now and then, get on the computer, and lay in bed reading short stories by Dorothy Parker.

As I begin to feel better, I plan to finish my child welfare training, get a massage, have lunch with friends, and maybe take a short trip to a nearby island. Until then, I'll be laying low, drinking lots of fluids, and getting through it.

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Social Work Philosophy

SOUNDS PRETTY HEADY, EH? Pondering, and stating, my social work philosophy is Part III of a three-part assignment in my Capstone course, Integrative Seminar.

In Part I, we wrote about our "espoused theory," (our values and assumptions, and what we think we want to do); in Part II, our "theories in use," (are we actually doing what we think we are doing?); and now, for Part III, we must scrutinize the first two assignments, and choose the areas of our practice that we want to work on to bring them more into agreement with our espoused practice theories, and also consider whether there are parts that we'd like to drop--or tweak--based on the assessment of our work.

A clear statement of our practice philosophy, along with the findings from Assignment I and II will be used to propose a plan for our professional development. We are allowed to use music, art and poetry to help us express our ideas.

Sounds cool, challenging, exciting, and intense--all rolled into one final assignment for the class (yes, I wrote final assignment--big smiles all around). It's due mid-April, so I have some time to let the ideas marinate...

~Ms. T. J.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Two-Month Countdown is On!

WHEN I LOOKED AT TODAY'S DATE, I knew there was something significant about it. Hmm... March 8--what could it be? Then I realized that it is exactly two months from graduation day! May 8, 2010 is truly just around the corner. We passed the half-way point of the semester last week, completed our mid-terms, and we are definitely on the downhill slide!

I was having coffee with a friend today and I shared that now that graduation is so close, I am having many feelings. I am naturally a bit nervous, and I have a lot of faith in the future. The sky is the limit! I know that I can do many things with this degree, including, and not limited to, child welfare.

As a Title-IV E grant recipient, I still have the option to opt out and pay back the grant that covered my tuition and books. My plan, since the very beginning, has been to pay back the grant with my employment at a child welfare agency.

A friend of mine is chief of surgery at a local hospital in my city and, before I started school, I consulted with him about the child welfare idea. He encouraged me to apply for the Title-IV E grant, and he likened the child welfare agency to the "bowels" of big city hospitals where he completed his residency in New York--where they get the chance to treat the "sickest of the sick." He said the state agencies would be the best training grounds for me, because I would be working on the toughest cases in child welfare.

I am excited about it. I believe I have something to offer, and I want to help. There have been days when I have left my internship deeply saddened and disturbed by the behavior of human beings--and the ways they maltreat children. And, I have not wanted to leave when it was time to go because I was so impassioned about the work.

In a mere two months, I will be a M. S. W., and qualified to take a job as a clinician. It seems hard to imagine, yet totally real! And, what a journey it has been so far.

~Ms. T. J.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's After 2 AM

I AM STILL UP working on a paper.

And, these are the days and nights I will remember--with fondness, relief that they are over, and with a sense of gratitude that I could pull this off.

A friend of mine sent me a text in the midst of mid-terms a couple of weeks ago asking if I could go walking. I sent back a short message letting her know it was crunch time, and that spring break was right around the corner so we could get together then.

She responded: You could just quit school. (Belly laughs all around.)

Late last night, my classmates and I were sending Facebook emails back and forth about our Capstone class papers:
C wrote: I have one critical incident, two references and 6 pages .
I wrote: I have two critical incidents, two references and 6.5 pages.
L responded: One incident, one page, no citations ... priceless.

I laughed out loud.

Either this stuff is really funny or I am deliriously tired. I'm in a place where it's a big adventure, or it's just not worth it at all.

I like this place.

~Ms. T. J.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Urgent Call to Action in Georgia: Please Help


Let's JAM UP the telephone lines! Please help today. The talking points are provided below and the Board of Regents telephone numbers are just below them.

Please do whatever you can--nothing more, nothing less

Dalton State College President

Dalton State College Social Work Program in Jeopardy

Budget Cuts Wide and Deep

If you have been following the news, the Board of Regents has been asked to cut over $265 MILLION out of the higher education budget. One immediate effect of this could be the loss of the social work program at Dalton State College. Unlike other state budget entities, the Board of Regents is given a “lump sum” of money. Cuts to this money are determined first by the President of the college/university and then by the Board of Regents. Our legislators do not have a hand in making these cuts. Thus, our FIRST priority is to write, call and email the Presidents, Chancellor and the Board of Regents.

As NASW-GA members, please join your Board and Legislative Committee in advocating against these cuts with the President of Dalton State University, the Chancellor and the Board of Regents. Writing to the other Presidents of Georgia’s Colleges and Universities would be helpful, but not as urgent.

Enough is enough! The very future of our State is at stake. As the dean at DSC said, “Let them know that while the cost of education is significant, the cost of ignorance is much greater.”

Specific messages about cuts to social work programs can include:

1) Social work education is a priority need for the future.


The 2006 Task Force on Health Professions Education published by the Board of Regents cited Clinical Social Work as the second most needed profession to meet the health care needs of Georgians and requires a priority focus. The report reads: “Limited resources and instructional capacity require that priority for the next five years be focused on those professions most in jeopardy. The Task Force has identified the following professions, in priority order, as the most fragile and in need of attention over the near term.”

The number one priority is nursing; number two is clinical social work (tied with clinical psychology)!

2) Georgia ’s per capita ratio of social workers per 100K population is among of the 5 lowest in the Nation.

3) More professional social workers are needed in Georgia ! The number of social workers in Georgia is less than half of the average of all the states!

4) Professional social workers are needed to meet the needs of Georgians in all areas: mental health, health, schools, businesses, nursing facilities, ETC.

Please add any information or example you have about the need for additional social workers, thus social work education!

Below please find contact information for all of those who need to hear from the social work profession:

President, Dalton State College

John O. Schwenn
President, Dalton State College
Westcott Building
650 College Drive
Dalton, GA 30720


Chancellor, University System of Georgia
Erroll B. Davis Jr., Chancellor
Office of the Chancellor
Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
Suite 7025
270 Washington Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
office: 404-656-2202
fax: 404-657-6979
email: chancellor@usg.edu

Board of Regents: 18 total members
If you can only write a few letters or make a few calls, make they mean more by choosing Board members who live closest to you!

Kenneth R. Bernard, Jr.
Sherrod & Bernard
P.O. Box 1154
Douglasville, GA 30133
Phone: (770) 920-8350
Fax: (770) 920-8970

James “Jim” A. Bishop
The Bishop Law Firm
777 Gloucester St., Ste. 401
Brunswick, GA 31520
Phone: (912) 264-2390
Fax: (912) 264-5859

Frederick E. Cooper
P.O. Box 52367
Atlanta, GA 30355
Phone: (404) 467-0905

Larry R. Ellis
Ellis Services & Solutions Enterprises, LLC.
3835 Presidential Parkway, Suite 118
Atlanta, GA 30340
Phone: (770) 458-3773

Robert “Bob” F. Hatcher (Chair)
MidCountry Financial Corp.
201 Second St. , Ste. 950
Macon, GA 31201
Phone: (478) 746-8222
Fax: (478) 746-8005

Felton Jenkins
800 Crawford St.
Madison, GA 30650
Phone: (706) 342-3564
Fax: (706) 342-3564

W. Mansfield Jennings , Jr.
ComSouth Corporation
250 Broad St.
Hawkinsville, GA 31036
Phone: (478) 783-4001
Fax: (478) 783-4620

James R. Jolly
347 Ivey Gate Ridge #2
Dalton, GA 30720
Phone: (706) 226-2317
Fax: (706) 275-4433

Donald M. Leebern, Jr.
Georgia Crown Distributing Co.
P.O. Box 308
McDonough, GA 30253-0308
Phone: (770) 302-3000
Fax: (770) 302-3109

William “Dink” H. NeSmith, Jr.
Community Newspapers, Inc.
297 Prince Avenue Suite 14
Athens, GA 30601
Phone: (706) 548-0010
Fax: (706) 548-0808

Doreen Stiles Poitevint
2001 Twin Lakes Dr.
Bainbridge , GA 39819

Phone: (229) 246-8577
Fax: (229) 248-1922

Willis J. Potts, Jr. (Vice Chair)
2614 Horseleg Creek Rd., SW
Rome, GA 30165
Phone: (706) 802-1313
Fax: (706) 802-1313

Wanda Yancey Rodwell
5628 Silver Ridge Dr.
Stone Mountain , GA 30087
Phone: (770) 879-5700
Fax: (404) 598-1068

Kessel Stelling, Jr.
Bank of North Georgia
8025 Westside Parkway
Alpharetta , GA 30004
Phone: (770) 751-4778
Fax: (770) 754-9950

Benjamin “Ben” J. Tarbutton, III
Sandersville Railroad
206 North Smith St .
Sandersville , GA 31082
Phone: (478) 552-5151 x208
Fax: (478) 552-1118

Richard L. Tucker
Arlington Capital LLC
One Sugarloaf Centre, 1960 Satellite Blvd, Suite 3500
Duluth , GA 30097
Phone: (404) 463-0592
Fax: (404) 657-7913

Allan Vigil
Allan Vigil Ford
P.O. Box 100.001
Morrow, GA 30260
Phone: (678) 364-3673
Fax: (678) 364-3947


This e-mail is reprinted with permission from: Allison S. Huppmann, Member Services Coordinator, National Association of Social Workers Georgia Chapter in Atlanta, GA

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