In This Issue | september 2020
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At a time where connection to others has become paramount, Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work continues to work for members to provide opportunities to network with peers, address changes in the profession, and earn CEU’s online! We will continue to focus on our mission “to promote the highest standards of clinical social work practice by ensuring the stability, efficacy and viability of clinical social work through clinical educational offerings, legislative advocacy, events that promote a sense of professional community, and activities that support the professional development of our members. Through these efforts, we affirm our commitment to the needs of those in our profession, their clients, and the community at large. ” – now and in the future, with your support.
. . . And please help us grow our community by inviting your friends, colleagues, and employees to become GWSCSW members.
In our tri-state area, as in the country at large, we are confronting not just one crisis, but several: the uncontrolled covid-19 virus, a major economic recession, and a time of civil and racial unrest. Now some are predicting that we will face one more—a national, mental health dilemma -- before this is over.
Back in February, when I expressed interest in running as GWSCSW President, I had no idea how many complex issues our membership would be facing when my term began. I want to use this first newsletter to express how it feels to be at the helm of our society during this critical time and to outline what we, your leadership team, hope to accomplish during the next two years.
A New Position
First, how am I feeling about being in this role today? Both worried and grateful. I am worried about these multiple crises and their impact on our society. What can we do for our members in this time of uncertainty and anxiety? If a second wave of the virus brings a deeper recession, do we have a plan in place to keep the organization fiscally strong?
We have a social work commitment to diversity. How can we confront racism within ourselves and within our organization to stay relevant? Are there structural shifts we need to make in order to be inclusive and equitable?
And what about the prediction of an upcoming mental health crisis? How do we, as a society, prepare ourselves for that?
In the midst of these worries, I am also feeling very grateful. I feel “held” in this new role by a cohesive and caring team. I am being carefully mentored by Mary Moore, our past President. The incoming and outgoing Board and other members extend their advice and kindness to me regularly, in many ways. Given this support, I feel enthusiastic about what we hope to accomplish during the next two years.
As I look ahead, I am focused on our connection with each other and to the society. Before I took over as President, I was cautioned that, although we have a large society of over 900 members, less than 10% volunteer for the work of the society. Given this, I am interested in boosting membership involvement and participation. At the first Executive Committee “launch” meeting for the new term, each person on the team offered ideas towards this theme, including:
Articulate our existing value. The society has done a lot over the past 40 years, but our value is often hidden. We need to communicate better about who we are and what we offer. Our Communications Director has solid plans to freshen up our website, broaden our social media presentation (should it be presence instead of presentation?) and make the newsletters interactive.
Add more options. The leadership team brainstormed ways to assure that GWSCSW offers something for everyone. We hope much of this will be at low or no cost. The ideas we put forward are in addition to what we already offer and range across possible membership needs, including:
Enhance outreach to social work grads and students. We want to formalize and coordinate our existing recruitment efforts with university liaisons and develop new programs for students and grads to include:
Shift society culture to “give more to get more.” Membership is not just measured in the dues we pay; it is an opportunity to demonstrate our values on a bigger stage. We hope all our members want to volunteer in different ways, to make these and other programs and events take flight.
I know that we have an ambitious list of goals, but I think our 2020-22 leadership team is up to the task. Some, like myself, are new to being on the Board; others have served repeatedly. I believe we have a good mix of innovation and energy, balanced with wisdom and experience. Right now, GWSCSW is in a strong fiscal position. Our administrative staff and systems are sound. The regular planning for educational programs and established events is on track. We are all adapting to using the Zoom online platform.
As the news of the country becomes increasingly uncertain, GWSCSW provides us a sense of attachment to our profession and our peers. The leadership team wants to make the society the best it can be for you. On their behalf, I welcome your feedback, responses, ideas, thoughts and of course, your involvement.
On a More Personal Note
I am told that it’s tradition that, in the first newsletter of the new term, GWSCSW Presidents share something about their journey to assume this role. Here is a bit about mine:
In 1985, I was a single parent working as a manager in the family business and in the midst of my own therapy, when I began to have dreams of being a therapist myself. I left my job to get my MSW from the University of MD and, over time, built a private practice in Silver Spring, MD. After a decade, I had a full practice and I loved the work; but I missed being involved with small business development.
So, I decided to get more training. While still working in my practice, I got certified as a business coach. Then I started teaching classes to clinicians from my office. The handbook for the classes grew into the basis for my first book, Building Your Ideal Private Practice (W.W. Norton, 2000.) Five more books and dozens of published articles followed plus decades of presenting. It was exciting and demanding, but also tiring for someone who is an introvert at heart.
Today, I still see therapy and coaching clients in my private practice, but by design, am writing and presenting far less than I used to. I think this reflects my desire to focus back on the core of my work: being with clients. This transition has allowed me to have the time and space to do other things, like taking on this new role. I am so glad to be able to give back to the profession that has given me so much.
Are you a new member of GWSCSW? Would you like to know all the ways GWSCSW can help you as you develop your career in clinical social work? Would you like to be a part of a great organization that has supported the profession of clinical social work for many years? The GWSCSW Membership Committee is planning our fall brunch for Sunday, October 11, 2020, from 11-12:30. This year the brunch will be on ZOOM, which means you have to bring your own brunch! This event is open to all new members who have joined in the past 2 years, and to regular members. Members of the GWSCSW Board will be present to discuss participation with the organization and answer any questions.
Details to follow as the event gets closer.
To register for this ZOOM event please CLICK HERE and register. It is FREE, but you must register to get the Zoom link.
Please address questions to Nancy Harris (email@example.com), Cindy Crane (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Catherine Lowry (email@example.com).
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the nationwide protests against police brutality, a group of concerned society members, including the incoming president and vice president, convened to address diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within GWSCSW.
We know the work before us goes beyond a statement of support or vowing to be more inclusive or diverse voices. We believe this moment, like many others before it, calls all of us - clinical social workers especially - to commit to being anti-racist.
Being anti-racist does not mean simply “being not racist.” As Ibram X. Kendi makes clear in his book How to Be An Anti-Racist, anti-racism is about the commitment to undermining efforts that perpetuate the idea that problems are rooted in groups of people, while supporting efforts that highlight the truth that problems are rooted in policies and systems of power.
While being anti-racist may begin with learning and unlearning the ways in which racism has shaped our country and identities, it must be translated into practice in order to effect change.
Creating the Taskforce is rooted in our commitment to not only being anti-racist clinical social workers, but also building anti-racist institutions - starting with our own. We intend to aid GWSCSW with infusing anti-racism within all aspects of its work. We see this as part of our ongoing personal and professional development work.
Aligning with the society’s mission to promote the highest standards of clinical social work, we see the Taskforce as a necessity to acknowledging how racism permeates our clinical work. We recognize we are first and foremost social workers who adhere to the Code of Ethics, which makes clear our equal commitment to social service and social justice.
We have many ideas and welcome the opportunity to hear from you. If you are interested in learning more or have questions about this important work, please email GWSCSW Anti-Racism Taskforce member, Margot Lamson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GWSCSW Anti-Racism Taskforce:
Advocacy, Equity and Practice in the Age of Covid-19
Saturday, October 17 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
We will discuss how the Covid-19 Pandemic has affected our practice with our clients and look at how the pandemic has influenced the equitable access to mental health services in our country. Examining how our advocacy can impact both our clients and our professional well-being will help us become more effective communicators to influence both the public and legislators about the importance of the services we provide to the well-being of our country.
We will hear from Margot Aronson, LICSW, and Judy Ratliff, LCSW, our legislative Co-Chairs for DC and Virginia, respectively; Judy Gallant, LCSW-C, our chair for Maryland and our Director of Legislation and Advocacy; Pam Metz Kasemeyer, JD., our Maryland Lobbyist; and Sue Rowland, our Virginia lobbyist.
Registration is a free benefit to our members, but you must register to attend - CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW. TWO (2) CEUs are available.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
What Will “Normal” Psychotherapy Become? A Somewhat Cloudy Crystal Ball Updated
The pandemic continues to have a major impact on the psychotherapeutic work that LCSWs do. This article is a somewhat updated version of the one I wrote for the last newsletter on this overriding topic.
Since the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently extended the state of emergency through October 23, it appears that the current coverage of videoconferencing and audio therapy will continue during this time as well. There are bills currently in Congress that would make Medicare coverage of videoconferencing and audio-only treatment permanent after the Public Health Emergency (PHE) ends, if passed.
Right now, however, there is still widespread discrepancy in terms of which private insurers and self-insured or ERISA plans (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) will cover videoconferencing and audio psychotherapy, which insurers and ERISA plans will cover or waive co-pays, and which insurers and ERISA plans will pay for videoconferencing/audio therapy at the same rate as in-person therapy. While LCSWs used to feel frustrated by reimbursement rates, lack of coverage for more than once-a-week treatment, and treatment reviews for psychotherapy that has lasted more than a year, we now have a whole new set of frustrations. Of course, the anxiety we face about becoming infected or infecting others colors everything we do, rendering our insurance concerns less meaningful. So here are the issues that will determine whether the practice changes we have endured the past 4-6 months will become permanent, stay as ongoing new options, or be eliminated when the dangers of physical contact with others have waned.
One of the problems with predicting these issues is that states/jurisdictions are following such different trajectories in terms of the way COVID-19 is impacting the people who live there. “Hot spots” may be part of a state’s difficulty with the virus, while other areas are unscathed. Here is a website that can tell you what the risks are in your personal location: https://covidactnow.org/?s=37528
Our state and local governments are trying to create guidelines that will protect as many people as possible, mainly through physical distancing, hand washing, wiping down all high touch surfaces, and masks. That is the legal “frame”; we all still have to determine what we think is safe in doing our work in the present and moving forward. I have heard from LCSWs all over the country and the vast majority have been conducting psychotherapy through videoconferencing and telephonic means for the past 4-5 months.
Now I will address the confusion around insurance coverage of these new delivery systems.
What do we do when an insurer states they will cover the co-pays, pay the same amount for distance therapy as in-person therapy, describe which Point of Service (POS) code and modifier to use, and then fails to reimburse according to these stated policies? These problems are some of the most frustrating that we face. Spending hours tracking down provider liaisons about why our claim was denied, or paid at a lower rate, is painful and even scary. One remedy is to engage our patients in the process of finding out what their current co-pay coverage is; this is another area of confusion though. Some insurance plans have waived co-pays. Some are just returning to mandatory co-pays. The prudent LCSW will keep an updated list of POS and modifiers by insurer, easier said than done. How frustrating and annoying is this? Very. If (when) you find inconsistencies, let your insurance commissioner and attorney general know. This is the best way to get action on insurers’ failure to pay us what they have agreed to when we have complied with stated policies.
The Future of Telemental Health
As for the future: although Medicare will maintain coverage of the expanded videoconferencing and audio psychotherapy through October 23, the question remains whether or not private insurers will follow their lead. Their policy will impact most private insurers, according to my cloudy crystal ball. Since the current restrictions will be cut back state by state, it is hard to say when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will decide there is enough safety to insist that Medicare beneficiaries be treated in-person. What I don't know is whether there will be an assessment of the videoconferencing and audio psychotherapy to determine whether they are as helpful as in-person treatment and how much more expensive it is to allow these forms of treatment to continue. There has been an explosion of bills in Congress that will make telemental health and audio only treatment permanent options for providing psychotherapy. CSWA will continue to work with Congress and other Federal agencies to preserve these options.
Expect to feel more fatigued doing telemental health. A couple of articles that outline the impact of doing all our work online are:
“Therapy During the Coronavirus Pandemic”, Cornwell, P., March 29, 2020, Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/therapy-during-a-pandemic-this-is-new-for-all-of-us/
“Therapists and Patients Find Common Ground: Virus-Fueled Anxiety”, Nir, S., New York Times, May 3, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/03/nyregion/coronavirus-therapy-nyc.html
Most of us have made some major readjustments to the ways we practice, which has been especially difficult for those of us who have been working in our offices for decades. Be kind to yourselves and find ways to give yourselves time to process these major changes to our professional lives, and accept the frustrating uncertainty we face about whether office practice will be safe in the near future. The dangers of feeling isolated as we work online from home, already a risk in office work, have increased. Try to remember you are not alone in dealing with the distress we all face and that this perilous time will eventually end.
Laura Groshong is the Director, Policy and Practice for the Clinical Social Work Association.
DC Board of Social Work Update
*Mayor Bowser has extended the Emergency Order through October 9, 2020. The administrative licensure waiver for teleservices will continue at least until then.
* Of the total 5016 active DC licensees, we have 3523 LICSWs; 46 LISWs, 1383 LGSWs; and 64 LSWAs.
*The Board expects to have the Department of Health's go-ahead to notify licensees of modifications in social work policies and regulations by email blast in September 2020.
The Department of Health Interprofessional Workgroup
Board Chair Velva Spriggs, LISW, represents social work on the Interprofessional Workgroup newly established by the DC Department of Health. The Workgroup - chairs of the health professional boards - has begun meeting to address mutual issues of concern with a multidisciplinary approach. Initially the Workgroup is considering: standards of care, best practices, how to maintain uniformity, reimbursement issues, how to deal with remote sites of care, and fees, so that there will be uniformity on the boards. The Workgroup will also be considering the issue of license portability and/or reciprocity across state lines. A complicating factor is that not all states are in favor of what is being dubbed a “global” approach.
HR 51: One Step Closer?
Statehood requires approval by a simple majority vote of each House of Congress and the President’s signature. This is the simplest and most constitutional way to make the people of the District of Columbia full citizens of the United States of America.
On June 24, the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives, after several hours of heated opposition on one side and supportive fact-filled responses on the other, voted to advance the bill to a full House vote.
Remember that DC has no voice on the House floor, with the exception of Del Eleanor Holmes Norton; our support at the hearing came from Reps of states around the country, plus one other voice, that of Virgin Islands Del Stacey Plaskett. Rep Louis Gohmert of Texas said he was prepared to offer a bill excusing DC residents from paying taxes so that we would stop our fussing about “taxation without representation.” Del Plaskett then made dramatically clear how very damaging this would be to DC as she described the deplorable treatment of the VI and other territories (who do not pay federal taxes) at the hands of the US Congress.
On the 26th of June, the House voted in favor of DC statehood. The first step!
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.
Impact of extending PHE on Maryland
As we know, the Federal public health emergency (PHE) was extended on July 23rd for 90 days. This is the second time it has been extended, and we don’t know what will happen after October 23rd. This has the impact of extending the allowing of treatment via teletherapy through that time. This includes payment through Medicare and Medicaid in MD, and likely through private insurances as well. It also extends the waivers of regulation around telehealth platforms, which permits providers to use platforms which are not HIPAA compliant, such as FaceTime. Remember that once the PHE is no longer in effect, the requirement to use a HIPAA compliant platform (such as Doxy.me or the professional level of Zoom) will likely return.
GWSCSW presents written testimony on COVID-19’s impact on mental health treatment
On June 23, the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health, headed by Maryland’s Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, met specifically to discuss the pandemic’s impact on mental health treatment in Maryland. We sent written testimony about telehealth to be heard at that meeting, which is now part of the public record. The testimony was also sent to the Maryland Insurance Administration Commissioner, the Behavioral Health Administration Commissioner, and the Secretary of the Department of Health.
On behalf of the Maryland Clinical Social Work Coalition (MdCSWC) and the members the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work (GWSCSW), I am writing to ask that the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health advise Governor Hogan, DHMH Secretary Robert Neall, and MIA Secretary Kathleen Birrane of the urgent need for insurance companies to continue to reimburse providers for telemental health services beyond 60-90 days following the end of Maryland’s State of Emergency. Additionally, I would urge increasing accessibility to audio-only teletherapy through requiring all insurance companies practicing in Maryland to reimburse providers for these services at the same rates as in-person psychotherapy.
Providers of mental health therapy responded quickly to the need to change the way we deliver services when the state of emergency was declared. Through video conferencing, we have been able to continue life-saving treatment for most of our patients, and to help combat the sense of isolation that exacerbates many of the conditions we treat. There are still some patients who, without access to the technology or broadband at home that permits videoconferencing to occur, have been unable to continue their treatment except through audio-only phone contact. While Medicaid has been reimbursing providers, thanks to Governor Hogan’s order, most other insurance companies have not followed suit, and have left some patients without access to their clinician during this highly stressful time.
Patients and therapists alike have found video-conferencing to be a safe and effective way to engage in therapy for the large majority of diagnoses. They have expressed great concern about resuming in-person sessions in an enclosed office space where safe social distancing or protective air filtration or circulation may not be possible, and before vaccination of most of the population can take place. This is especially critical for patients and therapists who are immunocompromised, or who live with or care for someone who is immunocompromised. While there are some patients who require in-person therapy, the vast majority continue to require treatment via video-conferencing, or audio-only telephone contact.
We thank the Governor and his Administration for their pro-active care of Marylanders during this health crisis. We know that the pandemic is sparking an increased need for mental health services. We are hopeful that Maryland can lead the way in ensuring these services are more easily accessible to our citizens for the long term, to help keep people productive and able to experience greater satisfaction with their lives, especially during this particularly difficult time.
Judith Gallant, LCSW-C
Director, Legislation and Advocacy, GWSCSW
Finally, to wrap up my report on the shortened Legislative Session of the MD General Assembly of 2020 (begun in the report of the June, 2020, News & Views, information about a couple of bills passed which will be of interest to some (taken from our lobbyist, Pam Metz Kasemeyer’s 2020 Session Final Report):
House Bill 1121: Maryland Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Registry and Referral System (passed) establishes the Maryland Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Registry and Referral System in MDH. The purpose of this Registry is to provide a statewide system through which health care providers can identify and access available inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance use services for patients in a seamless manner. It also creates an Advisory Committee to advise the Department on the development and implementation of the System.
Senate Bill 305/House Bill 607: Public Safety – Crisis Intervention Team Center of Excellence (passed) establishes a Crisis Intervention Team Center of Excellence (CITCE) in the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth and Victim Services to provide technical support to local governments, law enforcement, public safety agencies, behavioral health agencies, and crisis service providers. The CITCE is also to develop and implement a “crisis intervention model program.” By December 1, annually, CITCE must report to the General Assembly on its activities and related criminal justice efforts.
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.
Pamela Metz Kasemeyer, JD, and her firm of Schwartz, Metz & Wise, PA, represent us in Annapolis and guide our advocacy strategy. Ms. Kasemeyer is an acknowledged authority on Maryland’s health care and environmental laws and has represented a variety of interests before the Maryland General Assembly and regulatory agencies for more than 25 years.
Extension of Coverage for Telemental Health by Insurance Companies
Our GWSCSW Virginia Legislation and Advocacy Committee met with our lobbyist, Sue Roland, via Zoom on July 17. We focused on the issue of extending telemental health (video and audio) insurance coverage and to eventually making it permanent. According to Sue, Scott Johnson, the lobbyist for the Virginia Medical Society, said that he does not think that anything will really change regarding payment and interactions with insurance companies until well into next year. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that private insurers will continue to cover telemental health services. However, Secretary Azar has extended the public emergency declaration that covers Medicare reimbursement until October 23, 2020.
Our Committee members joined Sue Roland and the Board of the Virginia Society for Clinical Social Work (VSCSW) on July 18, to discuss mutual legislative concerns. We decided to form a committee of members from both societies to focus on this issue in preparation for the 2021 convening of the General Assembly. Eventually, we will be requesting information and feedback from GWSCSW's Virginia members that will help us in this task.
Laura Groshong, Director, Policy and Practice, Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA), has stated that the goals of CSWA are to make telemental health a permanent option through federal laws; to make reimbursement for telemental health at the same level as for in office visits; and to compare the use of in office and telemental health treatment delivery methods. They will also be focusing on the issue of variation in state rules that allow LCSWs in one state to see patients in another state virtually or through audio.
Review of Health Insurance Coverage for Behavioral health and Medical Services
In 2020, the General Assembly passed HB 280, requiring the State's Bureau of Insurance (BOI) to collect and report new information in its annual report, comparing health insurance claims for behavioral health services to those for medical services. The bill also directs the Joint Legislative Review Commission (JLARC) to evaluate whether BOI's annual report includes sufficient information to assess whether health insurance plans are adequately covering behavioral health services (parity).
The legislation requires JLARC to report recommendations for modifying the report to the Senate and House Commerce and Labor Committees and to the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the Twenty-First Century.
This work will be completed by JLARC's Health and Human Resources Unit. JLARC staff will determine whether Virginia is collecting adequate information from insurance plans to assess parity and evaluate whether insurance plans appear to be meeting parity requirements. If the team determines there are not enough behavioral health providers in some networks, JLARC staff will collect provider and insurance plans' perspectives on the reasons for that.
HB 51 directs several agencies to jointly study the feasibility of developing an early childhood mental health consultation program that would be available to all early care and education programs serving children from birth to 5 years of age. A final report is due by the start of the 2021 General Assembly session.
(Thanks to Sue Roland for the information on these pertinent bills.)
From the Governor
Governor Ralph Northam has called a special session on August 18, 2020 to resolve the budget.
On July 15, "Governor Ralph Northam announced the adoption of statewide emergency workplace safety standards in response to the novel coronavirus, or Covid-19. These first-in-the-nation safety rules will protect Virginia workers by mandating appropriate personal protective equipment, sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training and hazard communications in workplaces across the Commonwealth. The actions came in the absence of federal guidelines." (Taken from a press release from the Governor's office.)
HB 795, which would have allowed associations that represent independent contractors to create and provide their own medical insurance plans to their members was passed by both houses and vetoed by the Governor.
HB 1301, which became law on July 1, 2020, "created the Office of Children's Ombudsman, charged with reviewing and investigating the Commonwealth's child-serving agencies to ensure that children and their families are being treated with fairness."
Judy Ratliff, LCSW, (recently retired from work but not from GWSCSW or from life) Co-Chair, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee.
DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED -- PLANNING FOR BOTH IN-PERSON AND VIRTUAL in early 2021!
Look for email announcement coming soon.
MOVE FOR CHANGE:
INTEGRATIVE MULTICULTURAL TRAUMA TREATMENT BASICS
2 Day workshop | 12 CEUs (6 hours each day 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Presenters: Sydney Frymire, LCSW-C, Certified Life Coach, Karen Goldberg, LCSW-C, Bharati Devkota, CCH, LCPC
Committee: Sydney Frymire, LCSW-C, Karen Goldberg, LCSW-C, Bharati Devkota, LCPC, Lauren Stempler, MA, Priya Dhanani, PHD
Are you looking forward to our new normal in 2021? This experiential workshop will be presented in-person and virtually. Social work students attending Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal will join us virtually. http://www.tribhuvan-university.edu.np
When the client in your office begins to describe indicators or experiences that suggest they have survived trauma, do you wonder whether you are up to the task? This two-day workshop will review the nuts and bolts of trauma treatment from a strengths-based and culturally sensitive perspective. The first day will provide a review of the cultural components necessary for understanding trauma, an overview of its bio-psychosocial nature, and the foundation skills underlying treatment. In addition to didactic information and discussion, there will be demonstrations and experiential exercises that can be used in working with trauma survivors. The second day will offer a more in-depth exploration of the nuts and bolts of assessment, goal-setting and treatment modalities in working with trauma survivors. Included will be an introduction to energy theory and movement with a demonstration of synergy dance, as well as an integration of trauma-sensitive yoga, mindfulness, and breath work. The two-day course evolved from our trainers’ years of experience with the treatment of trauma survivors not only in the United States, but also in Nepal, where their work stimulated many new insights and offered the opportunity to work with complex trauma survivors of human trafficking. We believe that trauma treatment training is incomplete without attention being given to the practitioner-building resilience and preventing secondary trauma. The final section of the second day will be devoted to recognizing the impact on the clinician and self-care planning.
By Grace Lebow | Senior Seminar Representative
If you are a later career member, you may be interested in joining a Senior Seminar Group to interact with others at the same stage experiencing a range of life transitions such as health issues. Some may want to work on and on while others are thinking ahead to retirement. Some may be retired and others may want to talk about when and how to lower their caseloads. When you read the following stories about how some of the present Seminars function, you will get a good idea of the range of group topics and activities. You are welcome to phone me, Grace Lebow, at 240 858 4738 to discuss your interest in such a Seminar in your locale.
From Karen Goldberg
Our Senior Seminar group, which began meeting in August of 2019, with Sydney Frymire as facilitator, is continuing to thrive. Now under my leadership, we currently have 11 members: 8 women and 3 men. We meet monthly at the Connie Morella Library on Arlington Road in Bethesda for 1 1/2 hours on the second Monday of each month. Occasionally, we have increased the meeting frequency during a time when members expressed a need, for example during April-May in response to the degree of concern related to the pandemic. In March, as concerns about COVID-19 were escalating, we met in a park adjacent to the library, and since that time, we have held our meetings over Zoom. We will continue to use Zoom for at least the next meeting, and then re-evaluate based on member preference and information available.
During the Fall of 2019, the group decided to widen its focus to include a broader range of life transitions, particularly related to aging, health, connections and contribution, as they impact later life careers as social workers. Several of our members are taking more active steps to move toward retirement, some have decreased the number of working hours, and some are maintaining the balance they have created with part-time practices. Five of our members have closed their practices, but participate in community, political and social work-related activities. Our meetings begin with a check-in, where members give updates about where they find themselves in relation to the shifts in their lives, their careers, and the larger community/world.
Toward the end of last year, we generated a list of topics we were interested in discussing. I generally write a brief note in between the meetings that touches on the previous month's discussion and raises potential directions to continue our discussion at the next meeting. Between the issues generated by the check-ins, where we left off and new concerns, we engage in lively and stimulating discussions that also often involve members coming away from the meetings with new resources to explore further.
We remain open to including new members as the possibilities arise, and discuss where the group is at in its development at the time a new member is being considered. The group has been welcoming and supportive of the change of facilitator. Sydney is continuing to participate, and she and I often review the meetings after they occur. The members, including myself, have expressed much gratitude for the opportunity to connect regularly with a group of people who share similarities in psychological-mindedness and work life experiences as a way of continuing to foster personal and professional growth.
Estelle Berley’s group in N.W. D.C., that has been meeting since 2007, has continued to meet monthly by ZOOM with reviews of books and articles as well as catching up on the status of members during the Covid-19 virus shutdown. A recent book under discussion was Wise Aging by Cohen and Thal and the next reading will be She Walks in Beauty, a book of poetry by Carolyn Kennedy. And, YES, the group will soon be reading Mary Trump‘s book
Group members report that, on the whole, they are sequestering at home with Zoom connections to family and friends. One member, Carolyn DeVilbiss, summarizes her experience, which is typical of others in the group:
“We take daily walks in the area. and a few careful shopping trips with gloves and masks. We stay connected to friends via weekly ZOOM meetings where we share tips on how to stay entertained, safe, and in good enough humor. It has also been an occasion to reach out to more distant family and friends to check on their status, and to share the numerous emails and videos that capture the essence of our current state of life and politics.The hardest part for us is not being able to hug our children and grandchildren. We worry about the future for the young people launching into the work world and returning to college (or not).”
Finally, here is an update from Susan Miller, leader of the NOVA Seminar
My group of nine is completing its fifth year together. We continue to meet monthly in each other’s homes. We have met by way of Zoom during this time of social distancing. Our meetings are generally organized around “check-ins”. Each person shares where they are and the pertinent issues with which they’re dealing, personally and professionally. Most members are dealing well with the challenges of social distancing. Those who continue to work are doing teleconferencing. Members are finding creative and interesting ways to spend time at home. Some members are volunteering time to provide counseling to first responders. Two members are fully retired, and three members are actively moving towards retirement. The group continues to be a wonderful source of friendship, collegiality and support.
And from Grace Lebow
Below is a piece of art that I have been doing during this lock-down period.
It is a collage image that I named Coronavirus Maze because I began in the center and it kept going around and around and getting larger and larger. I felt stuck in a way to end the design. Once I realized it represented my feelings about the virus, I was finally able to find an exit .
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Steve Szopa, Director of Communications
My name is Steve Szopa and I am the Communications Branch Director for the 2020-2022 administration. I am taking over from Kate Rossier who has led our communications activities with skill and care since 2014. The roles of the Communications Branch are to keep members informed of society activities and to provide avenues of input from members to society leadership. The Communications Branch coordinates the website, the newsletter, the listserv, and our social media presence.
Our Executive Administrator, Donna Dietz, designed and also updates and maintains the website. Nancy Pines has generously agreed to continue for another two years as our Newsletter Editor. Donna Dietz functions as co-editor, handles many tech aspects of the newsletter and then distributes it to our members. Donna also handles advertising in the newsletter. A small but dedicated team of proofreaders review the newsletter before it goes out.
Donna Dietz manages the listserv, which is moderated by Joel Kanter, with Donna providing back-up.
Chana Lockerman manages our social media accounts and writes a tech column for the newsletter.
The Communications Branch is in excellent shape. As Director, I would like to explore making some improvements to our website, making the digital version of the newsletter more interactive, keeping the listserv going strong, and seeing if our social media visibility should be increased.
I am very happy to be starting my 7th year of involvement in society leadership. I am really looking forward to working with Donna Dietz and all of the generous and talented committee members of the Communications Branch. The society is fortunate to have such a wonderful team and so am I.
Nancy HarrisThe GWSCSW Mentor Program continues to be available during this time of social distancing. Mentors are available to meet online. If you’re interested in having a mentor to help you transition from school to workforce, to get started in your career, to answer questions about licensing and online continuing education, please fill out the Mentee Questionnaire located on the GWSCSW website. If you have questions about the GWSCSW Mentor Program, please contact the coordinator, Nancy Harris, LCSW-C, at (301) 385-3375 or at email@example.com.
Leila Jelvani, Director of Education | firstname.lastname@example.org
I am Leila Jelvani, the new director of the Education Branch. There are also two new c-chairs for continuing education, Jackie Fonseca and Zoraida Younger. The GWSCSW Continuing Education Committee is working to schedule online ZOOM webinars/workshop offerings for this fall and spring.We seek dynamic presenters who can engage the online audience, provide clinical expertise and conduct thought-provoking discussions. ZOOM webinars are a perfect way to share your knowledge and best practices in your area of interest. We are also looking for presenters on ethics.
Proposals must be submitted by licensed clinical social workers who are full members of 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 in 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.
Judy Gallant, Director of Legislation| Email: email@example.com
** The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has renewed for a second time the federal public health emergency (PHE) as a result of the continued consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current authority expires October 23, 2020. Federal Executive orders which have been issued as a result of the PHE (such as the relaxation of regulations mandating HIPAA compliant platforms must be used for teletherapy) are also extended until October 23. **
The past three months have been a time of profound change in our country. We have seen the numbers dying in our country from COVID-19 reach beyond 150,000 souls; hot spots and new cases are continuing to increase; the country watched in horror as George Floyd was killed by a white policeman, who was sworn to protect him, by forcing his knee into his neck for over 8 minutes; millions of people have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic and a serious recession is upon us.
We experience deep pain from each of these crises. We feel helpless, but in Mary Moore’s recent op-ed, she reminded us, “As clinical social workers, we have a role to play. We can support and provide empathy for our clients who are struggling with these issues. We can support each other.”
Under Mary’s leadership, our Society contributed $21,000 to directly address some of the repercussions of these crises: to several local food banks to combat hunger resulting from job loss; to the Pro Bono Counseling Service, to support mental health treatment for those increasing numbers of people with emotional difficulties who cannot afford insurance or OOP costs; to a local shelter that helps domestic violence victims who have fewer safety outlets as a result of the isolation imperative brought on by Covid-19; and to the Clinical Social Work Association, which advocates on a national level for increased funding for and improved access to mental health services.
In terms of specific actions regarding police violence and racial inequality, GWSCSW keeps our mission firmly in mind when we choose how we advocate as an organization. “Our Society’s mission is to promote the highest standards of clinical social work practice …. Through these efforts, we affirm our commitment to the needs of those in our profession, their clients, and the community at large.” Thus, we have always chosen to limit what we address in our advocacy work to policies/laws/regulations impacting mental health issues and clinical social work practice. But within our own organization, a newly developing Equity and Inclusion Committee, headed by Mike Giordano, will be looking at how our Society can be more inclusive internally and could potentially expand, depending on members’ interests, to look at external social justice issues as well.
We encourage our members to work on the issues they believe in and to find other members who share their interests. As individuals, we can march in protest, support organizations working for positive social change, and work to elect politicians with a strong moral compass who will listen and pass laws that protect and support all.
And we MUST all vote.
GWSCSW is what it is because of our incredible volunteers, and the society is in need of a new Volunteer Committee Chair. This Board leadership 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 the Volunteer Committee Chair, you can take pride knowing that you play a vital role in fulfilling GWSCSW's mission and helping to strengthen the community.
Below are the responsibilities of the Volunteer Committee Chair:
The main job is to recruit new volunteers and to help new volunteers find their committee of interest at events (in- person and at virtual ZOOM events) such as the annual dinner, and at Wine and Cheese and other member gatherings. Also:
Britt Rathbone, LCSW-C, leads the DBT program at Rathbone & Associates. The program was recently recognized as a DBT-Linehan Board of Certification, Certified DBT Program. His is one of only 19 programs worldwide to achieve this certification.
Jonathan Lebolt, PhD, LCSW-C, CGP has published a conference summary entitled "Psychotherapy and LGBT Identities: Historical, Clinical and Ethical Issues" in Psychiatry journal, Volume 83, Issue 2, pp. 202-203. The article may be retrieved via the following link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00332747.2020.1767993
GWSCSW is proud to feature a job resource to connect career opportunities with our members.
Manage Your Career:
Recruit for Open Positions:
Advertisements, accompanied by full payment, must be received by GWSCSW by the first of the month preceding publication. Material should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.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.
Large office with plenty of light through 2 large windows for rent in a quiet suite in Dorsey Hall Professional Park, Ellicott City. Conveniently located near Rtes. 29 & 100/108, and I-70. Rent is $815 a month. Please call Laura Brooks, 443.956.7282 or email email@example.com for more information.
The Safest Type of Office Space during COVID-19 is available for Social Work Professionals at the SugarOak Office Retreat in Herndon, VA
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks as always to our proofreaders: Shoba Nayar, Adele Natter and Steve Szoba (emeritus). We are looking for at least one more proofreader. Please let me know if you are interested. Same email as above.
Next submission deadline: October 30, 2020
Need to reach a Board member? Click here for the listing of the GWSCSW Board of Directors