In This Issue | march 2021

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President's Message

Lynn Grodzki

We held our first Board Meeting of the year on January 9, just three days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. I wondered how it would feel to try to focus on Society business in the aftermath of this latest horrific and tragic event, especially since the assault on the Capitol felt so personal, right in our own backyard.

I was frankly so appreciative to see everyone on Zoom, and know many of us felt really glad to be together and support each other. I started the meeting with a question, asking our members: What is your WOTY-- Word of the Year -- for 2021?

I explained that each year, I choose one single word to be my focus and guidance for the upcoming new year, to help me orient my efforts, time and energy. I try to find something meaningful that will point me in the direction I want to go, a kind of internal and intentional compass, as I make decisions. What WOTY, I asked, can encourage and support you to be the best personal and professional version of yourself? This prompted a wonderful sharing of thoughts and feelings. Some of the words that our Board suggested that would help them position themselves in 2021 included: hope, walking, connection, family, hugs, cultivate, lightness, gratitude, perseverance, positive, sankofa, enjoy, and centered.

Good news: Our Treasurer reported that we are in better shape financially than we had predicted. Our active membership numbers are up. We are reversing an earlier decision so that all MSW students who register for programs can become automatic members for free, to take advantage of our list serve and be immediately active in the Society.

The good financial news means we can continue to support our lobbyists who help us with legislative and advocacy issues. Judy Gallant, Director of our Legislation and Advocacy Branch and Committee Chairs Judy Ratliff, Wayne Martin, and Margot Aronson spoke to us at the January Board meeting about the challenges in our tri-state area. In Maryland there is a proposed change to reduce the number of required hours of supervision for people to get their clinical license from 144 to 100 hours. Both Virginia and DC already have the 100-hour requirement. But this is under discussion in terms of if, supported by our Society, what other requirements should be in place.

We have some continuing education programs ready to roll out soon. We also have some exciting ideas for additional educational programs this year and are talking with nationally-known presenters who want to speak to us, via Zoom on topics of complex trauma; anxiety reduction methods during this complicated time; and how new therapists can develop the skills of clinical confidence. Watch for notices of our future online programs, a wonderful and inexpensive way to get your CEs, connect with the membership, and contribute to our ongoing clinical conversation.

As always, the Board welcomes more members to be active in the Society. We need more committee members, we appreciate those who attend events, and we appreciate all who step forward to offer their time and energy to help the Society flourish.

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Jurisdictional regs during the pandemic

Adelle Natter

Many states, including DC, Maryland, and Virginia, have enacted special regulations or exceptions, with various expiration dates, for social workers providing care during the current pandemic.  For example, they are allowing for telehealth visits and Tele-supervision.  DC has waived the requirement for live, in-person CE classes through the current licensing period (until July 31, 2021). This policy can be found on the DC Board’s website at Policy Statement on Suspension of In-Person CE Requirement (Effective April 27, 2020). The April 27 date is simply when the policy went into effect; please note that CEs may be earned for on-line non-interactive courses throughout the entire licensing period.

Clinical Society members need to be aware of our area jurisdictions’ licensing requirements and the changes enacted during the Covid-19 pandemic, so as not to run afoul of local licensing regulations.  In general, DC, Maryland and Virginia permit social workers licensed in a different jurisdiction to continue to provide services to existing clients who may have moved across state lines.  However, it is not permitted to pick up new clients if you are not licensed in the jurisdiction where the client is located.

Therefore, it is necessary to indicate the client’s jurisdiction when making or seeking referrals on the list serve.

Relevant regulations, from the Boards’ websites, are quoted below:

Maryland:  

APPLICATION DURING COVID-19 EMERGENCY: If you are a licensed clinical or master social worker licensed in another jurisdiction and want to maintain continuity of care to a client who lives in Maryland. Please email Gloria Jean Hammel, LCSW-C Gloria.Hammel@maryland.gov

Virginia:

Health care practitioners with an active license issued by another state may provide continuity of care to their current patients who are Virginia residents through telehealth services.  However, if they want to acquire new patients, they must apply for full licensure in Virginia or an Accelerated Temporary License as indicated above. (Note: The Temporary license referred to above expired Sept. 8, 2020)

District of Columbia:

b. The healthcare provider has an existing relationship with a patient who has returned to the District of Columbia, and the healthcare provider is providing continuity of healthcare services to said patient via telehealth in accordance with the Guidance for Use of Telehealth in the District of Columbia and published March 12,2020 published March12, 2020 and accessible at https://coronavirus.dc.gov as well as any applicable laws and supervision can be found on the DC Board's website: POLICY STATEMENT GUIDANCE ON REMOTE SUPERVISION DURING THE COVID-19 HEALTH EMERGENCY. Note that the Board has  extended the policy until December 31, 2021; however, the Board may halt the policy should the public health emergency end before December 31, 2021.   This information can be found on Board's website in Minutes of the January 25, 2021 meeting.  

Adele Natter, LICSW, Co-Chairs the GWSCSW Legislation & Advocacy Committee for DC.. Adele has been an active participant on the Committee for the past four years; she represented GWSCSW on a Board of Social Work sub-committee, which included NASW and CSWA representatives. Adele maintains a private practice focused on helping individuals with anger and emotional regulation issues. She is also a Clinical Instructor in the Psychiatry Residency Program of the George Washington University Medical School. She holds a BA in Psychology from UCLA and received her MSW from the University of Maryland.

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Mark your calendars…April 11, 2021 | New Membership Brunch – coming this Spring!

Nancy Harris

This Spring, keep an eye out for a notice of another virtual membership brunch for new members on April 11,2021. New GWSCSW members, and all current members are invited to come meet new members! We will again have introductions to ways in which you can be a part of GWSCSW. We will have small group discussions so we can get to know each other. We look forward to the time when the bi-annual brunches can again be held in person.  Watch the listserv and your inbox for the invitation.

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Announcing Our Low -Cost Therapy Program for MSW Students

Kate Rossier – Chair, GWSCSW Lost-Cost Therapy Program for MSW Students kazrossier@hotmail.com

We are thrilled to announce that our clinical society has officially launched this program to help MSW students who cannot afford therapy at usual rates to get therapy while they are still in school.  Our university liaisons are getting the word out to the local university MSW programs.  At this point, we have twelve therapists who have generously signed up to provide therapy to the students and have connected about 10 students (all from Catholic University of America).  As soon as the other schools (Howard University, George Mason, etc) catch on, we will very much need more therapists who are willing to participate in this program and help the next generation of social workers.

This program is modelled on the program run for years by the North Carolina Clinical Society and we are grateful to both Melissa Grady who told us about the program and connected us with the right people to talk to, and to Lois Ostrow of the NCCS for providing lots of guidance!

Here is how it works:

For therapists

Contact me (Kate Rossier – kazrossier@hotmail.com) to let me know of your interest and I will email you the Therapist Information form.  You complete that and return it to me.

Important requirements:

  1. You are a current member of the clinical society (GWSCSW)
  2. It’s been at least five years since you received your clinical license .
  3. You need to be willing to seeing these clients for as long as they need/want to be in therapy – even post-graduation.  (Of course, you can renegotiate the fee agreement once they are earning an income, just as would happen with any other client).
  4. Your malpractice insurance is up-to-date.

Also, it is important to know that the students are often caught in a place where they have little or no income, or Medicaid or an insurance program with a high deductible.  They are usually not in a position to handle a usual sliding scale fee.  That would still be beyond most of their budgets.  Therefore, we are thinking of this as a Pro Bono Plus program (meaning that you would get somewhere probably between $20 and $30/session).

For students:

Contact me (Kate Rossier – kazrossier@hotmail.com) and we will set up a phone or zoom conversation to talk through the info we need in order to find you a therapist that would be a good fit. 

I am very grateful to have two committee members, Nancy Harris and Sheila Rowny, who are not only participating as therapists in this program but are also helping with the student interviews.

Next steps:

Once we’ve interviewed a student, we email an “ISO Therapist” message to the participating therapists.  Whoever sees themselves as a good fit, is in an appropriate location, and has availability, responds and we give their names and contact information to the student.  We try to offer 2-3 names, but at this point, we are happy if we have one! The student reaches out to the therapists and they take it from there!

If you have any questions about this program, please contact me!  We’re very grateful to the therapists who have signed up so far and I hope to hear from lots of interested therapists to help this be a robust program as the universities gradually get wind of it!

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POSTING TO THE GWSCSW LISTSERV - To post to this group, send email to:  listserv-gwscsw@googlegroups.com

If you are not on the listserv, contact admin@gwscsw.org  

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GWSCSW Annual Dinner - Scheduled for Spring or Fall of 2022

Beverly Magida and Nancy Harris, Co-chairs

The Board and the Annual Dinner Committee decided that the Annual Dinner may be more suitable as an Annual Cocktail Party in Fall of 2022, possibly 3-6 PM on a Sunday, where we could have a catered event at a restaurant. The location and the specifics of the venue needs to be discussed further at our next Board meeting in March when we know what budget will be allocated to this event. The focus will be a social activity, as members asked for this instead of including a business meeting.  

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A.R.T. (Anti-Racism Taskforce) 

Anti-Racism Taskforce (ART) - A brief report and suggestion for your own journey!

The Society's Anti-Racism Taskforce has been meeting bi-weekly over the past few months and we have been hard at work crafting our Vision and Mission Statements with as much care and thoughtfulness as we can.  These statements help guide us in this work and keep us centered and focused - and we'd like to share these with you:

VISION: 

To build a more inclusive, safe, liberated, and action-oriented Society that is in alignment with anti-racism values.

MISSION:

Given the systemic nature of racism, we strive to transform ourselves as anti-racists on a personal, professional, and organizational level by engaging members through workshops, resource sharing, consulting and hosting “brave space” group discussions.

In keeping with the resource sharing part of our Mission Statement, we started a new Anti-Racism Taskforce page on the GWSCSW website.  Please note that the ART page is still in the process of being built, but it includes a resource page to aid you on your own journey with suggestions for reading, listening, and watching.  Know that there will be more to come!

Additionally, if you have read or watched something that could be added to our list, please feel free to share this - with us and/or with the listserv.  We welcome your additions and know that many of you are already actively involved in your own journeys and have lots to share with the rest of us!

So, please, go to the page!  Pick out something to engage with over this next month.  Take an action to educate yourself!

Last, on February 27th, we hosted our first anti-racism conversation via zoom.  It was nice to see some of you there and we are looking forward to continuing to cultivate brave spaces for conversation that aid and encourage us all as we move further on our paths towards being anti-racist.

As always, feel free to reach out to us at antiracism-taskforce@gwscsw.org

Hannah Davis, Margot Lamson, Mike Giordano, Karla Abney, Kate Rossier

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Sheri Rosenfeld, dancer and couple therapist, writing with Jill Scharff, psychoanalyst, looks at couples’ various concerns, mismatches, and difficulties in reaching shared goals. Using the language of partnered dance to help life partners improve their communication and care for each other, she brings the lessons from ballroom dance to understanding these couple relationships. She conveys her understanding of the couples who seek her help, whether friends in trouble or couples in her therapy office, in the metaphors drawn from dance.

There is a delicate balance of body and mind within a couple. It is at this point of balance that a therapist has the leverage to change the couple’s dynamics. Using many vignettes from the ballroom and from the field of couple therapy, Sheri Rosenfeld shows how the fundamentals of dance apply to creating a successful love relationship in everyday life.

Not only for dancers and therapists, this book is for all partners who want to understand themselves and their couple relationship. How and why do you connect with another and choose to become a couple? How do you each manage your worlds as independent beings coming together to create another being, that is the relationship? How do you navigate the complex road in a relationship? What does it feel like, what does it mean, what does it take to be coupled, to be in relationship filled with nuance, passion, confusion, pain, complications, and enduring love? Reading this book, a couple can find new ways to get attuned in mind and body and find the change they need to become a creative couple.

Sheri A. Rosenfeld practices psychotherapy in Washington, D.C. and has been a life-long dancer with training in multiple dance disciplines. She earned a Masters in Social Work at Catholic University and is a graduate of the International Psychotherapy Institute. She holds multiple United States titles in ballroom dancing.

Jill Savege Scharff is a physician psychoanalyst, co-founder of the International Psychotherapy Institute; clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.; Senior Fellow, Tavistock Relationships in London; and adjunct member, International Psychoanalytic Association’s Committee on Couple and Family Psychoanalysis.

https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781624293177

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Where Major Bills Stand at Cross Over | February 9, 2021

Submitted by Judy Ratliff on behalf of Senator Janet Howell

Very late Friday night, the Virginia Senate completed work on all Senate bills. So now the bills are "crossing over" to the House. And, the House bills are "crossing over" to the Senate. The already frenetic pace of legislating will speed up.

As chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, my focus has been on the budget. We will release our amendments to the Governor's budget later this week and then intense negotiations with the House will begin. This year's budget process has been particularly complex because of Covid-19, federal assistance, and fluctuating revenues. Our Virginia constitution requires we have a balanced budget, so such extreme uncertainty complicates our task.

The Richmond-Times Dispatch on Tuesday had an impressive summary of major legislation we have dealt with. This is the most consequential session in my 29 year tenure. I hope you will review the list below, which is a verbatim summary prepared by the Richmond-Times Dispatch newspaper, and let me know your views.

Abortion: The House and Senate backed legislation to remove the ban on abortion coverage on the state’s health care exchange.

Budget: The House and Senate have not acted on revisions to the $141 billion two-year budget that Gov. Ralph Northam introduced in December. The assembly money committees have delayed the release of their budgets because of the transition between the regular session and the special session that starts Wednesday. They also won’t know until early next week how much additional revenue Northam expects the state to collect from income, sales and other taxes to support the $47 billion general fund for core government services such as education, public safety and health care.

Censure: The Senate censured Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, a GOP candidate for governor, for “conduct unbecoming” of a member of the Senate. Chase has filed suit against the Senate and Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar, seeking to overturn the rebuke and restore her seniority in the chamber.

COVID-19: The House and Senate backed similar emergency legislation that aims to speed up vaccine distribution efforts by widening the pool of who’s eligible to be a vaccinator and adding vaccination sites. Northam has championed the House bill, which would also mandate race and ethnicity data collection.

Death Penalty: The House and Senate passed measures that would make Virginia the first state in the South to abandon capital punishment. Since 1608, Virginia has executed almost 1,400 people.

Dominion Energy: Delegates approved a package of bills to strengthen oversight of the state’s largest utility, Dominion Energy. The bills would give more power to the utility’s regulatory agency, which could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in customer refunds and in the future lead to lower electric bills.

Elections: The House and Senate approved a measure called the Virginia Voting Rights Act that would protect voters from suppression, intimidation and discrimination based on their race, ethnicity or first language. The bill would set up new requirements for localities. Lawmakers are also working on legislation to lessen confusion on Election Day by requiring localities to reform the way they count absentee ballots. Lawmakers rejected efforts to heighten scrutiny of elections, such as a bid to require live video recording of casting and counting absentee ballots.

Evictions: The House passed a bill that would require a landlord to wait 14 days, instead of five, before issuing an eviction notice to a renter. Another bill the House passed would expand a tenant’s so-called right-of-redemption to settle a delinquent balance and keep their home. Both chambers passed bills aimed at cracking down on landlords who illegally evict tenants, and that would require courts to intervene in such cases sooner when tenants file emergency petitions.

Expungement: House Democrats passed a bill designed to automatically expunge certain felony and misdemeanor convictions, without fees or filing a petition in court, in order to give people who have served their punishment a clean slate. House Democrats are in a standoff over the issue with Senate Democrats, who prefer requiring a petition in court for a charge to be expunged.

Guns: House Democrats passed legislation to ban the possession or sale of guns without serial numbers designed to avoid detection devices. House and Senate Democrats passed legislation that would ban possession of guns on the state Capitol grounds, and write into law bans on guns in the Capitol and state buildings. The House passed a bill prohibiting guns inside polling places. A Senate bill that would have required background checks on people renting guns at shooting ranges failed on the floor.

Higher Education: The House voted to require five universities that were built or maintained by enslaved workers to offer scholarships or other community programs to descendants of the enslaved. The House also voted to set a higher requirement for the transparency of college governing boards.

Immigration: The Senate passed legislation to repeal the requirement that mental health facilities report documented and undocumented immigrants to ICE upon screening, and a bill that would allow a parent expecting deportation to provide a standby guardian for their child if under 18 years-old. The House backed legislation to tighten privacy protections for undocumented immigrants signing up for driver privilege cards, which would limit the power of ICE in accessing state databases. It also voted to remove the exclusion of farm workers from Virginia’s minimum wage laws. Another bill that cleared the House would ensure access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccination for undocumented residents. Both chambers pushed forth bills to let undocumented state residents apply for college financial aid, a year after Virginia expanded access for undocumented students to receive in-state tuition.

Insurance: A proposal to create a separate “reinsurance” pool for the most expensive health insurance customers has broad support except on the issue of who pays the state’s share of the bill. The legislation would direct the state to seek a federal Medicaid waiver to create the program as a way to reduce health insurance premiums for everyone else. The federal government would pay almost all of the bill, using savings from lower premium subsidies, but the proposal the House adopted would impose a 1% fee on all policies to pay for the state’s share of the cost. Insurers want the state to pay for it out of the budget. The proposal now goes to the Senate.

K-12 Education: The Senate passed legislation calling for schools to offer in-person instruction, effective July 1. Northam has since told school superintendents to offer such instruction by March 15. Both chambers passed bills to require teachers, principals and superintendents to have cultural competency as part of their yearly evaluations. As yet, lawmakers have not funded statewide efforts to fix crumbling schools.

LGBT: The House and Senate endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal Virginia’s 2006 amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. A proposed constitutional amendment would have to pass the legislature in consecutive years and then succeed in a statewide voter referendum. The House passed a bill to repeal the “conscience clause” that lets child placement agencies refuse to take part in child placements that violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.

Marijuana: The House and Senate signaled support for the legalization of marijuana, but striking differences in approach between the chambers leave uncertainty about the legislation’s fate. The Senate supports legalizing simple possession this summer, which the House does not. Neither chamber has yet fully grappled with the creation of a market for legal sales.

Mandatory Minimums: The House and Senate passed legislation that would eliminate most mandatory minimum sentences. Supporters say such sentences are discriminatory and result in lengthy sentences.

Redistricting: Delegates approved measures that would allow for the removal of members of the state’s newly created redistricting commission due to improper conduct, and that would require more public input in the map drawing process. A bill intended to boost transparency would require the commission to allow public comment on the legislative and congressional district maps after they are drawn — instead of just before — and would require that all meetings be livestreamed.

Rights Restoration: The House and Senate approved proposed constitutional amendments to allow people convicted of felonies to vote. The House resolution would restore rights automatically after a voter completes their sentence. The Senate resolution would allow people convicted of felonies to vote, except while incarcerated.

Right-to-work Law: The House rejected an effort to bring to the floor a proposed repeal of the right-to-work law under which union membership may not be a condition of employment.

Sick Leave: The House pushed through a bill that would require businesses with more than 25 employees to provide five days of paid sick leave to essential workers who work at least 20 hours per week. Health officials have supported the bill in hopes of limiting COVID-19 spread, but similar legislation has been killed twice in past sessions.

Solitary Confinement: The Senate passed legislation that would end most uses of solitary confinement in state prisons, but the Department of Corrections says it would be expensive to stop using it.

Statues: The House and Senate backed legislation to erect a statue of teenage civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns in the United States Capitol. The House also endorsed measures to place a statue of educator and civil rights leader Booker T. Washington in the Virginia Capitol’s Old Senate Chamber and to remove a statue of segregationist Gov. and U.S. Sen. Harry F. Byrd Sr. from Capitol Square.

Taxes: The assembly is divided over how to respond to a new federal law to help businesses survive the pandemic by giving them what the state considers a “double tax benefit” on federal emergency loans. The forgivable loans convert into tax-exempt grants if businesses did not lay off employees during government-enforced restrictions on their operations. The federal government allows those businesses to deduct their expenses from income tax, but the assembly is debating narrower relief from state income tax to protect revenue for the budget. The Senate wants to let all businesses that received the loans deduct up to $100,000 in expenses from state income taxes due this year, while the House would allow only unincorporated businesses to deduct up to $25,000.

As always, my staff and I are ready to assist you. Contact my Chief of Staff or Legislative Assistant at district32@senate.virginia,gov or 703-709-8283. We will do our best to respond to you.

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Legislation & Advocacy | Federal

Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

REVIEW OF TELEHEALTH LAWS BY STATE - 2-18-21

Below is an excellent summary of the legal protections for telehealth services, including behavioral health treatment, in all 50 states and District of Columbia (seven states do not have laws about telehealth coverage including AL, ID, PA, NC, SC, WI, WY) put together by the law firm of Foley and Lardner.  The link is https://www.foley.com/-/media/files/insights/publications/2021/02/21mc30431-50state-telemed-reportmaster-02082021.pdf

The areas covered include state laws about coverage for telehealth and audio-only treatment; reimbursement requirements; how long coverage will last; the actual language of the laws in each state; and more. 

Even if you think you know your state’s laws about telemental health, this is a good review and offers ways to improve telemental health laws based on what other states have done.

Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
Clinical Social Work Association
lwgroshong@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

Laura Groshong is the Director, Policy and Practice for the Clinical Social Work Association.  

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Legislation & Advocacy | District of Columbia

Adele Natter Margot Aronson, Committee co-chairs

Several issues of concern for DC social workers were on the agenda at the January DC Board of Social Work open session meeting, which was attended by more than a dozen social workers representing the interests of GWSCSW and other agencies.   

First, the stats and some administrative data:

  • There are 5279 active licensees in DC, of whom 3693 are LICSWs, 46 LCSWs, 1473 LGSWs, and 67 SWAs.  
  • Although the Board office is open by appointment only at this time, applications are being processed without issue, and they are accepting documents such as transcripts, etc.
  • The Public Health Emergency has been extended to March 31, and the Board expects that it will be extended again after that date.  The requirement for live, in-person CEU training has been suspended throughout the current licensing period, and that will continue during the pandemic.  The policy permitting TeleSupervision has been extended to December 31, 2021.  

One issue that generated a lot of discussion was the possible creation of a Supervised Practice Form.  The problem is that many agencies hire new BSWs and MSWs, with the understanding that they will sit for and pass the licensing exam.  In some cases, pandemic conditions have severely limited test-taking opportunities.  In others, candidates do not pass the exam, and are then practicing without a license.  Representatives of several agencies affirmed their desire to be in compliance with the regulations and also to support and mentor their social workers to pass the licensing exam and demonstrate their competency.  

The Supervised Practice Form would authorize the practice of social work for a limited period of up to 180 days, under supervision, before the scheduled exam.  The supervisor would be responsible for submitting the Supervised Practice Form, which could be done only one time.  The Board’s verification page would indicate failure on the exam, and the worker would have to reapply to take the exam and, in the meantime, cease practicing social work.

A program to certify community health workers (CHW) is being considered in the DC Department of Health and DC Department of Behavioral Health, to include frontline workers on outreach teams, in hospital wrap around services, and in informal social support roles.  Such a program would be based on a national definition and hopefully lead to standardized training and tools, and enhance the standing of individuals from the community who provide much needed support services. 

As currently envisioned, this certification would be voluntary; regulatory standards and oversight were not mentioned. 

A final note:  Any DC licensee who did not receive the Board’s January 4th email should first double-check to see your correct email address used for official Board business (your CE submissions, for example) before alerting Mavis Azariah.

Adele Natter, LICSW, Co-Chairs the GWSCSW Legislation & Advocacy Committee for DC.. Adele has been an active participant on the Committee for the past four years; she represented GWSCSW on a Board of Social Work sub-committee, which included NASW and CSWA representatives. Adele maintains a private practice focused on helping individuals with anger and emotional regulation issues. She is also a Clinical Instructor in the Psychiatry Residency Program of the George Washington University Medical School. She holds a BA in Psychology from UCLA and received her MSW from the University of Maryland.

Margot Aronson, LICSW, co-chairs the GWSCSW Legislation and Advocacy Committee for DC along with Adele Natter, LICSW. A past GWSCSW president, she has also served as newsletter editor and director of Legislation & Advocacy. Margot currently advocates on mental health and LCSW practice issues for us all at the national level as the Clinical Social Work Association Deputy Director for Policy and Practice.

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Legislation & Advocacy | Maryland

Judy Gallant

In early January, the Maryland General Assembly started their annual 90-day legislative session. It looks to be a whirlwind of a session, as there were almost 800 bills pre-filed before the session even started! As of this writing at the end of January, we have submitted testimony on 7 bills, all in support of the bills’ aims, but for several bills our support is dependent upon the inclusion of amendments offered.

Bill to authorize reimbursement for teletherapy on a permanent basis

We offered testimony supporting Senate Bill 393, which would authorize reimbursment for telehealth for MH and SUD services (including audio only services) to continue on a permanent basis following the public health emergency for the Maryland Medical Assistance Program and Health Insurance. As mentioned in Laura Groshong’s article elsewhere in this newsletter, states must take action to prevent insurance companies from discontinuing reimbursement for these services in their State, and Maryland is being proactive in introducing this bill.

Addressing issues around health disparities

We supported 2 bills having to do with addressing health disparities of racial and ethnic minorities as a result of their social determinants of health. One bill, House Bill 78, will create a Maryland Commission on Health Equity, which would examine ways for State and local government agencies to collaborate to implement policies that will positively impact the health of residents of Maryland. House Bill 28 would establish a requirement for all license health care professionals to complete a one-time implicit bias training course. The amendment we requested was to move the effective date of the bill from October 1, 2021, to April 1, 2022. Licensees would need to complete the required course by their first license renewal after the effective date.

Mental Health First Aid training to support Veterans and their families

Senate Bill 164 would incorporate “Mental Health First Aid” training into the services veterans and their families are entitle to receive in Maryland. Veterans have a high incidence of mental health and substance use disorders, but they and their families may not recognize or know how to respond to their behavioral health needs or know how to access services. We supported offering this training for veterans and their families, which can help enable them to identify and respond to mental health issues and improve the quality of their lives.

Task force to study mental health care in higher education

We presented testimony in support (with amendment) of House Bill 244 which creates a Task Force to study access to Mental Health Care in Higher Education. The Task Force is to be charged with studying policies and procedures related to the treatment on mental illness in higher education students and would make recommendations regarding issues that will enhance access and appropriate response to the mental health care needs of students by their institutions. We recommended changes to the proposed make-up of the Task Force to include a minimum of two students and one clinical social worker during our testimony, which were received positively, and our proposed language is to be added to the bill.

Increased funding and expansion of mobile crisis response teams

Testimony we presented regarding House Bill 108 supports increasing and extending funding for Maryland’s Behavioral Health Crisis Response Grant Program. The bill includes important requirements for crisis response services that will serve to minimize law enforcement interaction for individuals in crisis by expanding the use of 24/7 mobile crisis teams, which is a team including a licensed mental health professional and peer support specialist, to respond to people in crisis in the community, rather than having police respond. In our testimony, we emphasized the importance of the provision of follow-up coordination and connection to services-provided by the increased financial support, in order to decrease avoidable incarcerations, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and readmissions.

Committee to review suicides in Maryland

We supported a bill creating a Maryland Suicide Fatality Review Committee, with an amendment to include a greater range of clinical expertise necessary to appropriately review medical records relevant to identified suicide fatalities, while additionally needing the process for identifying cases and medical records to be revised to ensure that there is appropriate protection of the privacy of records.

Last but not least, possible temporary license to practice social work proposed

This is legislation advanced by NASW to allow for the issuance of a temporary license for BSWs and MSWs, pending their passage of their exam. It is intended to address both the shortage of social workers that agencies can hire, as well as new graduates’ inability to find employment, which has been exacerbated by delays as a result of COVID in administering exams to students who have completed all other required training. Initially, NASW asked that LCSW’s and LCSW-C’s also be given temporary licenses, but as a result of push-back, dropped that request. Although BSWE is opposing the bill, other professional boards, both in Maryland and in other states, have already created the ability to practice with temporary licenses. We will continue to monitor.

We are currently monitoring 26 bills of interest to clinical social workers in Maryland. Look for our June newsletter for final decisions on these and other bills.


Judy Gallant, LCSW-C, is the director of the Society’s Legislation & Advocacy program, as well as chair of the Maryland Clinical Social Work Coalition, our GWSCSW legislative committee in Maryland. She maintains a private practice in Silver Spring.

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Legislation & Advocacy | Virginia

Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee

YOUR VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE AND ADVOCACY COMMITTEE AT WORK FOR YOU

The Virginia Legislature has just completed a 30 day session and will begin a special session on February 9. In order to identify bills that will impact us and our clients. Our lobbyist, Sue  Rowland, reviews all the bills and sends daily updates to Wayne Martin, my co-chair, me, and Rick Goodling and Joe Lynch from the Virginia Society of Clinical Social Work (VSCSW). The four of us met with Sue twice a week on Zoom since the legislative session began.  We will continue to meet to monitor the passage of pertinent bills through the special session.

BILLS HB 1987 AND SB 1338 PERTAIN TO EXTENSION OF REIMBURSEMENT FOR TELEHEALTH

These bills pertain only to Medicaid recipients and not to private insurance. The bills cover NO mental health diagnoses and only a few physical diagnoses.  I have written to my delegate, Ken Plum, who is one of the sponsors of the House Bill, inquiring as to why mental health was excluded but I have not yet had a reply.

Both societies and our lobbyist know that extension of telehealth coverage for our clients is very important, as are other insurance concerns.  Therefore, our group has decided to continue our meetings on a less frequent basis to deal with insurance-related other concerns.

LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA is very complicated and will probably not pass this year.  According to Delegate Ken Plum, BILLS PENDING this session include repealing mandatory minimum sentencing, ending felony possession for drugs, reforming the broken probation system, instituting automatic expungement of criminal records, establishing pay parity for public defenders, ending presumption against bail, and eliminating the death penalty.

CONTINUING EDUCATION

Another benefit of the collaboration between the two societies is that both groups benefit from reciprocity for continuing education classes.  Members in each Society can enroll in classes for the member cost.  Please take advantage of this opportunity to extend your options for free or lower cost CEs.

COVID 19 TESTING, VACCINATIONS AND UPDATES

Wayne and I urge Virginia members to subscribe to the email lists for newsletters from your county supervisors, the head of your county Board of Supervisors and your Virginia delegate and senator.  These emails are "chock full" of information as to testing and vaccinations sites, updates and other important information.  Just put "constituent" in the subject line and request to receive their newsletters.

Judy Ratliff, LCSW, (recently retired from work but not from GWSCSW or from life). She is the Co-Chair, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee.

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Senior Seminar in Northern Virginia

Patti Gibberman and Hannah Craven

Patti Gibberman and Hannah Craven are co-leading a new Senior Seminar in Northern Virginia. Senior Seminars are a very popular GWSCSW program, originally started by Grace Lebow in 2006. Some of them have been meeting ever since! The group is appropriate for you whether you are at a later career stage or whether you are retired. Join in on Zoom to explore how this monthly group, with CEU’s, can meet your needs. A Zoom date will be arranged with those interested in the near future. 

Please contact Patti at pgibbermanmsw@gmail.com or Hannah at hcravenmsw@gmail.com to indicate your interest and we will get back to you with more details as we know them.

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Communications Branch 

Steve Szopa, Director of Communications 

  1. Newsletter -- The paper version is available again. To start receiving your paper copy, you can edit your website profile to reflect this choice or email Donna Dietz to help you: Admin@gwscsw.org
  2. Website -- The website is being updated and refreshed. Soon there will be tabs on the top of the home page so you can jump to areas of special interest to students, recent graduates, preparing for licensure, early career, mid-career and retirement. The rest of the home page will be organized so that topics of high interest are easier to find. We are excited to roll these changes out in the next month.  If there is anything you are looking for on the website, you can always use the SEARCH button.
  3. Social Media -- We have made the social media section of our website easier to find. We have also added a LinkedIn page and encourage everyone to connect to it. If you are reading the digital version of the Newsletter, you can access it here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9021563/
  4. Listserv – We are interested in any suggestions you have for our ever-popular listserv. Please write to our Listserv Moderator, Joel Kanter at: joel.kanter@gmail.com

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Education Branch 

Leila Jelvani, Director of Education | leila.jelvani@gmail.com

Do you have a topic that you know others are interested in learning about?  Would you like to share your expertise and promote your work?  GWSCSW would like to expand our workshop offerings and we are looking for members who would like to present a continuing education workshop to run from September 2020-May 2021.   

This is a great opportunity to highlight your experience and promote your practice.

The proposal template and frequently asked questions can be found on the GWSCSW website. Click here to submit a proposal. After your proposal is submitted it will be reviewed by the Education Chair.

Proposals must be submitted by licensed clinical social workers who are full members of the GWSCSW.   Non-members or non-social workers may present with you.

There is compensation for presenters of $100 per credit hour, assuming a minimum of 7 attendees.   Currently, all educational offerings are being run via ZOOM - we have had really good turnout at our recent events and this platform has been a great way of helping people attend events.  (We will set up your ZOOM meeting and assist you in using it so you do not have to be ZOOM-proficient to present online.)

The schedule for CE events will be available on the GWSCSW website and emails will be sent out when it is time to register. 

Below is a quick reference guide on how to prepare a ZOOM presentation.

GWSCSW ZOOM events are becoming the new normal, past presenters have provided input on presentation best practices. Below are five tips for delivering a great virtual presentation on Zoom.

1. Have a professional setting

Just as you consider the surroundings for your teletherapy sessions, it is recommended to establish a professional setting using a neutral background and limit distractions in your environment. Good lighting and the use of a headset can minimize background noise and provide clear audio. 

2. Be ready to go fifteen minutes before

If you are not familiar with the Zoom platform it is important to understand the functions and features.  GWSCSW hosts all meetings and provides a co-host who helps to manage the meeting with both technical features and general support.  Test runs are very helpful to practice using control functions and identify possible delays when transitioning between slides. We always log in before the event time to test audio and video, this allows us to be ready to deliver the presentation smoothly and as planned.

3. Efficient time management

It is important to take the time into consideration and ensure you allow time for questions/answers and any discussion if that is part of your presentation. This ensures that the audience have an opportunity to participate and get the most value from your presentation.

4. Structure your presentation

The risk of viewers becoming distracted at a virtual presentation is even higher than that of in-person events. Therefore it is important to provide an engaging and concise presentation. When it comes to the structure of your presentation, it is key to know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Clear, concise and simple points should be used to make it easy for your audience to follow. The use of visual signposts can be very effective for yourself and the audience in structuring your presentation as they indicate where you are going next.

5. Effective use of slides

When putting slides together there is no need to include unnecessary slides, less is more in this case. Slides should follow a coherent structure starting with a title slide, a slide that outlines the topics you will discuss, and a slide to introduce each new theme or topic. Effective slides include a mixture of text, images and statistics to engage the audience. When developing your content and slides, use the slides as a guideline for your presentation but remember that the slide does not need all the information - it should be used as a reference for what you want to discuss at that time.

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Legislation Branch 

Judy Gallant, Director of Legislation| Email: judy.gallant@verizon.net 

I want to share an experience of a colleague who, without realizing it, was advocating for public health. She was hunting to get a COVID vaccine but, like many of us, struggled with whether it was right or not to do that. She sees people only virtually, so was not at risk in the way front-line hospital workers are. She has no complicating medical conditions that would put her at higher risk of serious illness or death should she become infected. And she was cognizant that colleagues were choosing to delay getting vaccinated themselves because they felt other social, economic and professional groups were far more at risk than they were. But she was concerned about the virus in general, and especially so when she had to go to the pharmacy or the food store. Some of her clients would anxiously ask if she had been vaccinated yet, and when she might be able to see them again in person.

But when another colleague told her about a vaccine site that was open on a particular day to give shots to health care providers only, she registered for an appointment and went. When she sheepishly admitted at the site that she was not currently seeing clients in person, she was told that did not matter. She worked with vulnerable people - remaining healthy in order to continue to work with them was important, not only for those people, but for the community as a whole. Should she get sick, the vulnerable people she worked with would themselves be put at more risk, and potentially create a greater burden on the healthcare system, which the state (in this case, Maryland) was hoping to avoid.

When my colleague heard this, she felt a great sense of relief, which I also felt when she told me about the person’s response to her. The sense of guilt that we would be doing something immoral by getting vaccinated before others did not seem as rational as it had previously.

Our area’s response to vaccine distribution has been haphazard and confusing. The leaders of the jurisdictions are themselves confused by an absence of Federal and State coordination and communication. In Maryland, for example, after many people registered on a State website for vaccines in Prince George’s County (myself included), the County Executive said registering at that venue was only meant for people who lived or worked in the county, while the acting state Director of Health said the state had no policy that prohibited residents from receiving a vaccine in a county different from where they lived or worked. The County Executive initially said that people who had registered to be vaccinated before a particular date would be permitted to keep those appointments, and then a day or two later reversed herself, saying that those appointments would be cancelled and that no one from outside the county should come to their appointment.

So of course we’re confused! However, in the face of government disorganization about vaccine distribution, we are advocating for our clients as well as ourselves by getting vaccinated when we can.

Be sure to contact one of us with any questions or suggestions you might have, or to join one of the committees: in DC, Margot Aronson at malevin@erols.com or Adele Natter@verizon.net; in Maryland, Judy Gallant, judy.gallant@verizon.net; and in Virginia, Judy Ratliff, jratliff48@hotmail.com or Wayne Martin at wamnoles@aol.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Mentor Program  

Nancy Harris

The Mentor Program is available for GWSCSW members still in school, newly graduated, approaching their clinical licensure and wondering about the next steps. Mentors can assist with questions about career direction, licensing, continuing education, relationships with supervisors, and decisions about what to do after clinical licensure. Mentorship is a powerful tool to enhance new social workers’ development.

If you are a member of GWSCSW and interested in signing up, please fill out the Mentor program form or contact Nancy Harris, LCSW-C, coordinator of the mentor program, for questions. Her phone is (301) 385-3375, email is nlharris1214@gmail.

Experienced social workers are always welcome to be mentors themselves. The application form to be a mentor is found at the same place on the GWSCSW website.

www.gwscsw.com/mentoring

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Volunteer Committee

GWSCSW is what it is because of our incredible volunteers and the Society is always in need of volunteers.  This role is a great way to gain professional exposure and management experience, expand your knowledge of GWSCSW, connect with others in the profession, and establish life-long friendships. As a volunteer you play a vital role in fulfilling GWSCSW's mission and helping to strengthen the community.

Susan Post - susan.post@gmail.com


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ZOOM Burnout - Tips for Connecting with Others

Do you have that ZOOM burnout but need connection?  Below are some gathering ideas where you can connect with other colleagues on remote activities.  If you are interested in hosting a gathering for other GWSCSW members we would love to co-host the event.  

Watch movies together using Zoom

Zoom offers a screen sharing feature, and it actually works well for watching movies. This has considerably expanded the number of Nicolas Cage movies available to us, which increased the quality of our lives.

Schedule a Zoom meeting with your crew, as always. The host of the movie night should legally acquire the movie ahead of time and be ready to play it. When the time comes, hit the Share screen button, then make sure the Share computer sound and Optimize Screen Share for Video Clip buttons are both checked.

Play games together online

  • Board games can work surprisingly well online. Board Game Arena offers a wide variety of free games you can play in your browser. 

  • Party games can also work well. Jackbox is probably the most common example, and for good reason: it's fun. Some of the games are trivia, some are opportunities to make jokes, but all of it is low pressure. In person, the game is played using a combination of a TV screen and everyone's individual phones. 

Bake or cook together

Find a relatively straightforward recipe, make sure everyone has time to buy the ingredients, then hop on a call together and try to make it. This is a fun way to connect and share cooking/baking tips! D

Do a Virtual Walk together

Start a video call and go for a walk outdoors, chat and explore each other's outdoor areas.

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GWSCSW Job Board

GWSCSW is proud to feature a job resource to connect career opportunities with our members.

Visit the GWSCSW job board to look for jobs or to post a job today.

Manage Your Career:

  • Search and apply to positions that value your credentials!
  • Upload your anonymous resume so employers can contact you, but you maintain control of your information and choose to whom you release your information.
  • Receive an alert every time a job becomes available that matches your personal profile, skills, interests, and preferred location(s).
  • Access career resources and job searching tips and tools.

Recruit for Open Positions:

  • Post your jobs, or your institution's jobs, where the most qualified professionals will find and apply to them.
  • Email your jobs directly to job seekers via the exclusive Job Flash email.
  • Search the resume database and contact qualified candidates proactively.


Consider advertising in the next issue of News & Views

Post ads for:

  • continuing education training,
  • office space, upcoming groups,
  • job opportunities, specialized services, etc.
The GWSCSW newsletter is circulated to more than 1,000 members, prospective members, and other clinical social work professionals in the area. GWSCSW members rely on the newsletter to locate upcoming professional events and activities for continuing education, professional development, and networking opportunities.

Please get in touch with Donna Dietz, GWSCSW Administrator (admin@gwscsw.org) to reserve your space in the next issue. 

Don't forget -- we offer free design for your display ad!

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Classified Advertising

Advertisements, accompanied by full payment, must be received by  GWSCSW by the first of the month preceding publication. Material should be sent to admin@gwscsw.org. For questions about advertising, call 202-537-0007.

Adolescent/Young Adult Therapy: CBT, DBT, Medical Illness Counseling, Unified Protocol, Group Therapy. Powerful interventions for depression, anxiety, anger, perfectionism, fear, shame, rumination, social anxiety, ASD and more. Rathbone & Associates. Rely on Experts. 301-229-9490 www.rathbone.info.

Professional CEUs: Rathbone & Associates Professional Training Program. See our current schedule at www.rathbone.info, click on “Professional Trainings”. Current topics, quality speakers, practical skills.

Excellent Job Opening for Geriatric Care Management Position   | Aging Network Services, a nationally known 39-year old private geriatric care management practice is looking for a geriatric care manager who has a LGSW or LCSW to visit a small caseload of older adults in the community.  The job entails more relationship building than paperwork.  Our approach is systemic, and ideal candidate will thrive on helping clients overcome resistance, providing emotional support and connecting clients with the best resources, and providing psychoeducation to families.  The work we do is rich, clinically complex and intensely rewarding. We provide 2 hours of weekly LCSW-C supervision.  Applicants must have a car.   The job is ideal for someone who is looking to join a small, collaborative and creative team of social work professionals.  We provide excellent benefits, including a pension plan and full health insurance.     Web site: www.AgingNetworkServices.com.     Send Resume and Cover letter to Email:  Barbara Kane at Barbara@AgingNetworkServices.com   

Classified Ads: 75¢ per word | Minimum price $15 (20 words)
Display Ads: Full page 7 x 9¼ $325 | Half page $250| Quarter page $125 | Eighth page $75  

Electronic submission (JPG) preferred. Publication does not in any way constitute endorsement or approval by GWSCSW, which reserves the right to reject advertisements for any reason at any time.

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News & Views
Nancy Pines, Editor

News & Views is published four times a year: March, June, September and December.

Articles expressing the personal views of members on issues affecting the social work profession are welcome and will be reviewed and published at the discretion of the editor. Signed articles reflect the views of the authors; society endorsement is not intended. Articles are subject to editing for space and clarity.

News & Views Submission Guidelines

I am the volunteer editor of our quarterly newsletter. I love this job and will stay with it as long as I can or until deposed.  My great helper, Donna Dietz, our administrator, is the designer of the newsletter, She makes it attractive and readable, even though she has a lot of other things to do. If you have a submission, please send it to me: npines12@aol.com. I edit the articles and reports and send them on to the proofers who check up on me. BTW, we have two dedicated proofers, Shoba Nayar and Adele Natter,  but could use another one. Please let me know if you are interested. Email address is above.

Articles – Focus on your area of expertise and practice, ethical dilemmas, responses to events in the media or other topics relevant to clinical social work. Articles should be 500–700 words.

Reports- For each newsletter, I hope to hear from all branch and committee people to inform us of their activities.

Out & About – Share news about you: an article you’ve written, if you’ve been in the news, taught a class, earned a new certification or are a singer, artist or writer. Submissions should be 50 words or less. Send all submissions to npines12@aol.com

Advertising: admin@gwscsw.org

Next submission deadline:  April 30, 2021

Need to reach a Board member?  Click here for the listing of the GWSCSW Board of Directors

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