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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Please Be Patient

Kryss is currently stranded, in a hotel out of state, due to Hurricane Irene. Her weekly blogs will resume this Friday, 9/2.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Therapy for All?

Somewhere, among all the professors I had in the MSW process, someone told me that they believed all social workers should be in therapy. At the time, I thought the person was joking as the idea of a therapist seeing a therapist seemed silly. Now, I wonder if there's truth in that and, if so, whether we make easier or more difficult clients than non-social workers.

For example, is it better to come in with a guess as to our own GAF score or is that something we can never presume to know because we are too close to the subject? Are we more or less likely to self-diagnose or to attempt to justify or explain away our behaviors?

What do YOU think? Should all social workers be seeing a professional? Should all professionals be warned about taking on social workers as clients?

SW 2.0 Column Sneak Peek - Virtual Clinical Practice

Folks, I'm really excited to be profiling Nancy Smyth, LCSW, Ph.D., and Mike Langlois, LICSW. Both Nancy and Mike practice what is commonly called virtual social work or virtual clinical practice. They both use a variety of computer games and interactive online spaces, such as Second Life, in their social work practice.

For example, here's Nancy talking about the power of virtual placemaking with the International Transgender Hate Crimes and Suicide Memorial in Second Life:
The power of virtual immersive platforms becomes really clear when you find a place in a virtual world that really uses the environment effectively. The International Transgender Hate Crimes and Suicide Memorial provides an excellent example of such a space. To start, the memorial is a peaceful, visually appealing place: a beautiful building and surrounding green space, with the sound of waves crashing at the shore. The dark granite walls, reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, lend a somber tone to the space and the feeling of being in a protected enclave.

Upon entering the building you encounter an alter filled with pink and blue candles. This is the memorial for transgendered people who have died from suicide. Each candle has a name associated with it and when you click on the candle a description of what happened to that person comes up in the chat. I clicked on quite a few of the candles: the tragedy of these deaths comes through loud and clear. Nearby the altar is a box where you can submit a request to light a candle for someone.

Read the rest of Nancy's post here.

Here's Mike explaining Gaming Affirmative Therapy:

You can watch Mike talk more about gaming affirmative therapy here.

What do you want to learn about virtual clinical practice? In what ways can these practices help our clients, or respond to our clients already using these technologies in new ways? How can social workers incorporate virtual clinical social work into their practice?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Workplace, Longer Life…

I just finished reading this article and it got me thinking… what am I doing, heck, what are any of us doing, to make our workplace happier?

Around my office, we find little ways to enjoy the day or to help others enjoy the day; treats brought to work, offering to pick up coffee for each other, that sort of thing. We do pretty well with being understanding when someone has a sick child or when a person’s train has made them late. Sure, we still have our disagreements and there are times we probably want to throttle each other, but it’s a pretty nice set of women to work with.

In a way, I suppose we’re lucky in this field. So many professions are based on numbers, on who gets the sale, on who’s up for promotion to partner, etc. In our field, most of us don’t have positions with such competition, so we’re not as required to be as cutthroat. We don’t need to seek out each other’s weaknesses for exploitation or to be afraid someone else will steal a rich client if we take a sick day. I really love that about this field.

In what ways do YOU and your coworkers help to make for a happy workplace?

Friday, August 5, 2011


I don't know if it's my insatiable love of learning or some level of insanity, but I've been researching PhD and DSW programs. I love the idea of learning more, the structured environment with deadlines and such speaks to the side of my "type a personality," and I feel like it might be wiser to pursue now, before I'm too busy with the rest of life to have the time.

But here's where I've discovered is the difficulty... programs seem to only want students with at least 3 years post-MSW, some require an LCSW, and few offer coursework that doesn't require you to leave your paying job in order to attend classes.

Some argue that they're both unnecessary in the field of social work, that there's no real benefit in earning either unless you plan to become a tenured professor. They say that it doesn't take a doctorate to be a therapist, a case manager, or the other often-common positions in our field. They say the salary boost doesn't make up for the extra student loans and that programs seldom offer scholarships or grants to cover the costs.

After hearing so many nay-sayers, I wonder what you all think... does a social worker with a doctorate earn more or have more clout where YOU work? Do YOU have a doctorate? Have YOU considered it?