In This Issue | March 2020

President's Message

Mary Moore

As always, the members of GWSCSW have been active over the past few months. In case you’ve been distracted with all the national news, let me catch you up.

Leadership – As of July 1, 2020, the GWSCSW officers’ 2-year terms will be completed. At the January Board Meeting, a Nominating Committee was created to help make sure we have quality candidates for your vote in May. Kate Rossier and Chrissy Wallace volunteered to lead this effort – thank you, Kate and Chrissy! They are organizing leadership wine and cheeses to answer questions from anyone who is interested in learning more about being involved with leadership in the Society. There are four offices which will be open – President, two Vice-Presidents and a Secretary. Alex Wood will be continuing as Treasurer – thank you Alex! There are a few committee positions, as well as Director of the Community Branch which are open.

If you are interested in taking your volunteering to the next level, or if you have never volunteered with the Society and are interested, please contact either Kate or Chrissy. Also, if you would like to host a leadership wine and cheese, let them know – we hope to have at least one each in MD, VA and DC.

Early Career Action – A brainstorming group met in November to strategize how we could better meet the needs of early career members and younger members. Some of the outcome from the meeting was to elevate the University Liaison Committee Chair position to a Vice President Level and to make the other Vice Presidents focus on Early Career; ensure the 3000 Hour Workshop continues and perhaps is given more often and possibly in shorter time commitments more spread out; the idea of a “panel” focused on early career; more focus on early career subgroups, such as hospital, case management, group practice, etc.; happy hours and/or meetup groups;  opportunities for non-members to “check us out” before joining; input on the annual dinner (see below); and to expand our social media presence from just Facebook to include Twitter, Linked-In and Instagram.

Annual Dinner – The Annual Dinner Committee circulated a survey recently – thank you to all who participated! There were two big areas of feedback – 1) Desire for more opportunities to engage with other members, including more interaction between younger and older members; and 2) Less time talking about our past and more time talking about what we’re doing now and where we’re going. The survey and the early career brainstorming group both indicated that there are groups of members who have known each other a long time and newer members found it hard to meet others. While the annual member dinner is definitely a place to enjoy seeing old friends, we definitely want to also be welcoming to new members!

To respond to this feedback, we created an ad hoc committee to work on content for the dinner which would be engaging, and activities to help members meet and get to know each other. We will make awards at the annual volunteer brunch instead of the annual dinner to reduce speech-making time. We also increased the budget for the dinner to have it be 100% catered, rather than part pot luck.

We will have it again at River Road Unitarian in Bethesda – Sunday June 7, 2020, from 5 to 8 p.m. and next year we hope to have it in DC or VA and possibly at a different type of venue.

Thanks for being part of our membership. I look forward to seeing you at a Society event soon!

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Mark your calendars for the Annual Dinner Meeting June 7, 2020!

Some things will be the same as last year … time 5-8 pm, place River Road Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD.

But after listening to the members’ wishes for the dinner, this year will be fully catered with a new caterer. In addition, there will be some fun activities to encourage interaction between attendees. This part is still being developed, but promises to be a way for GWSCSW members to get to know each other.

Registration for the dinner will be officially announced in a couple of months. We hope everyone can come and have some fun!

Any questions or if you're  interested in volunteering:  Contact Beverly Magida, Co-Chair, at bev.magida@verizon.net

GWSCSW Annual Dinner Survey 2019 –Summary of Results

The GWSCSW Annual Dinner Committee thanks members for responding to this important Annual Dinner survey. We appreciated your comments and hope that at the upcoming Annual Dinner on Sunday June 7, you will see we heard your requests for changes by providing some fun activities that encourage members to meet and get acquainted with each other. Hope to see everyone there!

If you have any questions regarding these results, please contact Beverly Magida, Co-Chair, at bev.magida@verizon.net

  • 50% of members attended the Annual Dinner out of 96 responses
  • 84% of members attended for networking with other social workers
  • 74% of members attended for socializing with other social workers
  • 84.5 % responded time and date of Annual Dinner was fine
  • 5.7% did not attend due to the event being held in an inconvenient location
  • 9.6% did not attend due to the event being too far away from their private residence
  • 1.9% responded that the facility was a problem

General written comments:

  • Respondents expressed a need for increased interaction between younger and older members. Prevailing comments indicated the event did not feel welcoming to members newer to the society.
  • Respondents expressed a desire to hear more about the future and goals for GWSCSW versus talking mainly about past accomplishments. Also, the speakers spoke for too long and they were not entertaining.
  • Respondents suggested doing fun ice breakers, so new members could get acquainted with others.
  • Respondents appreciated the event being free and being able to get out of the house to participate in a GWSCSW activity.
  • Respondents enjoyed honoring the speakers and learning more about what GWSCSW has accomplished.

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Where is Psychotherapy Headed? And who gets to decide?

Adele Natter

Conference takes apart conventional wisdom

Three GWSCSW members and Laura Groshong, CSWA Director of Policy and Practice, were among the attendees at the Psychotherapy Action Network (PsiAN) Conference in San Francisco in December. PsiAN, the Psychotherapy Action Network, is a community of mental health professionals dedicated to promoting psychotherapies of depth, insight, and relationship. The mission of PsiAN is to advocate and educate the public, policymakers, and our profession about the value of therapies of depth, insight and relationship, and their effectiveness in alleviating suffering and transforming lives.

Presenters at the conference spoke about the evidence base for the effectiveness of psychodynamic talk therapies. Jonathan Shedler, PhD, was especially stirring. Insurance companies and Big Pharma put pressure on mental health clinicians to conceptualize psychotherapy in medical terms, to reduce mental disorders to lists of diagnostic signs, equate therapy with symptom reduction, and to manualize treatment. Speakers pointed out that the people who come to our offices usually do not have a discrete symptom or problem. They have multiple problems, complex and traumatic histories, conflictual relationships, and in addition, are often impacted by a lack of educational, financial, legal, and family resources. Those of us who work with couples, families, and children are well aware of “Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention” (V-Codes) in the DSM that are real problems that clients have and that cause mental distress but are not reimbursable by insurance. These include issues such as Parent-Child Relational Problem, Relationship Distress with Spouse or Intimate Partner, Disruption of Family by Separation or Divorce, and Personal history/past history of Psychological Abuse in Childhood.

One talk was given by Meiram Bendat, JD, PhD, who was one of the lead attorneys in the 2019 court case Wit vs. UBH. (Dr. Bendat is an attorney and also a psychologist.) This class action suit was brought on behalf of patients who had UBH insurance policies, but were denied coverage by UBH for residential treatment, substance use disorder, and outpatient treatment. In his ruling, Judge Joseph Spero rebuked United Behavioral Health for under-treatment, for putting profits before people, and for failing to meet “generally accepted standards of care.” Dr. Bendat provided guidance on advocating for patients with their insurance companies and questioning the company on the Medical Necessity Criteria and Standards of Care that insurance companies are using but often not revealing.

Laura Groshong was one of several social work presenters. She spoke about the history of social work and a challenging trend in social work education: increasing use of online social work education and the resulting diminishment of the worker-client relationship. She also participated in a lively panel focused on advocacy.

Several of the presenters were clinical social workers, among them Laura Groshong, who gave an excellent talk on the decline of clinical training in social work graduate education and the rise of social work degree programs that are entirely on-line. She also participated in a practical panel focused on advocacy. And while the majority of the 180 participants were psychologists, the overriding concerns were common across the world of psychotherapy; perhaps needless to say, clinical social workers were outspoken in raising issues that we need to be addressing together.

Adele Natter is an emotion-focused therapist with over 40 years of experience in mental health settings, including day treatment, in community mental health, and in private practice. She holds in BA in Psychology from UCLA and got her MSW from the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She completed her Core Training in Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy with Jon Frederickson at the Washington School of Psychiatry.

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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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Legislation & Advocacy | Federal

Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

Legal and Ethical Issues Raised by “Trust and Consequences”

The Washington Post published an article on February 15, 2015, called "Trust and Consequences", written by Hannah Drier. It is an excellent description of how immigrant minors are being seen by therapists, some of whom may be LCSWs, and then have their confidentiality violated while in detention or after leaving detention.  You can find it at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/immigration-therapy-reports-ice/?utm_campaign=wp_evening_edition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_evening

As with any potential ethical violation,  it is prudent to start with the Code of Ethics (CSWA Code  of Ethics, 2016):  “Confidentiality b) Clinical social workers must know and observe both legal and professional standards for maintaining the privacy of records, and mandatory reporting obligations. Mandatory reporting obligations may include, but are not limited to: the reporting of the abuse or neglect of children or of vulnerable adults; the duty to take steps to protect or warn a third party who may be endangered by the client(s); the duty to protect a client from self-harm; and, the duty to report the misconduct or impairment of another professional. Additional limits to confidentiality may occur because of parental access to the records of a minor, the access of legal guardians to the records of some adults, access by the courts to mandated reports, subpoenas and court orders, and access by third party payers to information for the purpose of treatment authorization or audit. When confidential information is released to a third party, the clinical social worker will ensure that the information divulged is limited to the minimum amount required to accomplish the purpose for which the release is being made."

The underline is the relevant section because when the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) takes custody of immigrant children they become in loco parentis or the guardian of the minors. This is the way that the right to privacy is circumvented by ORR.  The article was about a minor who was taken into custody at 16 and stayed in custody for three years.  In some states, the minor would have the right to decide to whom his personal information is disclosed at the age of 13 or above.  In Texas where the minor was kept, there are very specific reasons for a minor consenting to treatment and nothing on whether the minor has the right to keep his record private:

Under the following circumstances, a minor may consent to his or her own medical, dental, psychological, and surgical treatment, including if he or she is one of the following:

  • At least 16 years old, living apart from parents, conservator, or guardian, and managing own financial affairs.
  • Consenting to examination and treatment for drug or chemical addiction or dependency, or any other directly related condition.
  • Seeking counseling for chemical dependency or addiction, suicide prevention, or sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. (Texas Family Code § 32.003)

This heart-breaking article shows how a minor who believed that the therapist he saw would keep his information confidential was emotionally harmed when this did not happen.  CSWA will be writing a position paper on all the implications of this article for us as mental health professionals.

Action Items

In the meantime, CSWA recommends sending the following message to your members of Congress.  You can find their email addresses or contact information at https://www.congress.gov/members?searchResultViewType=expanded&KWICView=false . A suggested message is as follows: “I am a constituent and a member of the Clinical Social Work Association.  Please take action to end the way that immigrant minors being held in detention have no right to confidentiality when seeing a clinical social worker for psychotherapy.  This fundamental ethical principle of psychotherapy is currently being violated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement according to the Washington Post (see article at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/immigration-therapy-reports-ice/?utm_campaign=wp_evening_edition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_evening  ). The process of psychotherapy becomes potentially traumatic without the right to confidentially. I would be happy to discuss this with you further.”

Please feel free to use your own language in this message.  Contact me if you have questions or need more information.  As always, let me know when you have sent your messages. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

There is also a petition that is being sponsored by the Psychotherapy Action Network (PsiAN), an excellent group that CSWA has been working with for several years. Anyone who is interested in signing this petition can do so at https://www.thepetitionsite.com/379/862/396/tell-orr-and-ice-stop-using-psychotherapy-notes-to-betray-and-endanger-children/

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

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Membership Dues Tax Deductible Amount: For the 2019 tax year, the percentage that is not deductible for tax purposes will be 24%, based on our projected lobbying expenses.  76% of your membership dues is deductible as a valid expense.

Legislation & Advocacy | District of Columbia

Adele Natter

The Board of Social Work meets the fourth Monday of every month. These meetings begin with Open Session (open to the public) at 10AM and proceed into Executive Session (closed to the public).

At the DC Social Work Board meeting of January 27, the Board discussed future CE topics that the Health Department will require of all Boards. The question of whether an LGBTQ CE requirement and a sexual health CE requirement could be met by a single course was raised. The topic was tabled for discussion at a future Board meeting. During this license cycle, social workers will need to devote four (4) CEs relevant to public health topics posted on the Board’s website. (See “Policy Statement Identifying Public Health Issues for Continuing Education” in the Policy Guides and Statements section of the website.) At the November meeting, the Board stated its commitment to using a liberal interpretation of the requirements.

Before the January meeting ended, a hearing was held regarding a Notice of Intent to deny a licensee’s reinstatement application. Because the licensee did not appear, the District’s attorneys made the case that she did not meet her burden of proof in presenting her case for reinstatement. Your GWSCSW representative was not privy to the Board’s subsequent discussion. However, this case was further evidence of the importance of showing up in order to be heard. Over the past 18 months, we have seen how effective that can be, with the formation of policies around LGSW’s in private practice. In that case, a number of GWSCSW members and others attended meetings of the Board and really educated the Board about many aspects of this issue.

The next meeting of the DC Board of Social Work is scheduled for March 23, 2020.

Adele Natter, LICSW, Co-Chairs  the GWSCSW Legislation & Advocacy Committee for DC with Margot Aronson, LICSW. 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.

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Legislation & Advocacy | Maryland

Judy Gallant

In early January, the Maryland General Assembly started their annual 90-day legislative session. As of this writing at the very beginning of February, we have submitted testimony on two bills, both in support of the bills’ aims.

We presented testimony in support of Senate Bill 245, clarifying language from the social work licensing bill passed in 2017. In particular, the bill clarifies that social workers are entitled to treat alcohol, drug use and addictive behavior, as well as use technology as set forth in regulations. We also requested language clarifying that any treatment by an LMSW or an LCSW of biopsychosocial conditions must be done under the supervision of an LCSW-C. Although these are currently in our scope of practice, this makes the language unambiguous in the law. I am grateful to Dan Buccino for his input re. our position on this bill.

Testimony we presented regarding Senate Bill 324 supports efforts to provide services to veterans and their families, specifically Mental Health First Aid programs, through requiring Maryland’s Department of Health to coordinate with the Veterans [no apostrophe] Administration.

We will be looking closely at two bills scheduled to be introduced by the Parity Coalition. One will require more rigorous network adequacy compliance reporting by insurers and the other will address out of network costs for individuals who are unable to receive in-network care due to inadequate networks.

We continue working in collaboration with our friends at the Maryland Behavioral Health Coalition at the MHA in supporting efforts to restore behavioral health funding in the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget to the levels required by both the 2019 minimum wage bill and the bi-partisan HOPE Act of 2017. The proposed budget slashes mandatory funding increases from 4% to 2%, under-funding public mental health and substance use treatment by nearly $25 million. The additional State funding is necessary to support increasing reimbursement rates for community behavioral health workers. (This does not impact insurance reimbursement rates; it specifically affects Maryland’s public mental health system.) Over 260,000 Marylanders rely on the state’s public behavioral health system for their mental health and substance use treatment needs, and without the additional funding, Community Mental Health Centers could be forced to reduce or eliminate services. Additionally, the legislature is working to fund strategies, recommended in the Kirwan report, that will help our schools. These budgetary issues are always difficult, and all the more so when a Republican governor works at cross-purposes to the largely Democratic legislators.

Interested in any of these topics? Please contact Judy Gallant at judy.gallant@verizon.net or sign up to volunteer to help our legislative committee on-line at our website at GWSCSW.org. We’re stronger working together.

Please feel free to contact me any time at judy.gallant@verizon.net.

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

The 2020 Virginia Legislative session has seen the passage of some bills beneficial to social work.  These bills passed the House in which they were initiated and went to the other House for reconciliation on February 11, which is known as "Crossover Day."  SB 1046, Clinical social workers: patient records; involuntary detention orders. This bill adds clinical social workers to the list of eligible providers that includes treating physicians and clinical psychologists who can disclose or recommend the withholding of patient records, face a malpractice review panel and provide recommendations on involuntary temporary detention orders.  SB1562, Music Therapy: definition of music therapist, licensure. Requires the Board of Social Work to adopt regulations establishing a regulatory structure to license music therapists in the Commonwealth and establishes an advisory board to assist the Board in this process.  Under the bill, no person shall engage in the practice of music therapy or hold himself out or otherwise represent himself as a music therapist unless he is licensed by the Board.

Another bill that has been proposed is SB53: licensure by endorsement, which requires the Board of Social Work to establish in regulations the requirements for licensure by endorsement as a social worker.  The bill allows the Board to issue licenses to persons licensed to practice social work under the laws of another state, the District of Columbia or a US possession or territory, if in the opinion of the Board, the applicant meets the qualifications required of licensed social workers in the Commonwealth.

Other more general but equally important bills include a bill passed in the House that ends discrimination in housing, accommodations, employment and other forms of discrimination and a bill to extend protections of the hate crime bills to all persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

There is also a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15.00, with multi-year step increases. The laws that had been passed in prior years designed to make it more difficult for a woman to have access to an abortion when necessary are being repealed.  Additionally, a number of laws that have made it more difficult and cumbersome to vote have been repealed and the law regarding absentee voting will now enable voters to cast an absentee ballot for any reason, with no restrictions.

The last item of focus in this article is the prospect that I may be leaving my position as Virginia Chair of the Legislation and Advocacy Committee as early as July, 2020.  Thus far, a few students have expressed an interest, but, as students, have had no time to consider even accompanying me to Richmond or Charlotesville to attebd board meetings of the Virginia Society of Clinical Social Work (VSCSW).  If there is no one to fill my position, then we will literally have no voice in how legislation affecting us in Northern Virginia will be shaped.

Yes, it's a lot of work.  Yes, it means driving to Richmond three times a year and Charlotesville once a year. Yes, it's easier for me to do this because I am single and have no family obligations. Yes, you write a quarterly article for the Newsletter.  And, yes, if there is crucial legislation pending, then there are times when there are weekly legislative committee telephone meetings to strategize and plan actions.  Yes, it is a lot of work.  Yet, the rewards are great.  Because of the work done by Margot, Delores and Alice before me, and continued by me (forcefully at times), we now have true joint decision making and an equal voice in how legislation is shaped to include Northern as well as southern Virginia social work and client interests. It would be very sad if this is lost because no one (or two or three) will step up to take over this important work.

I am more than willing to stay on for six months or even a year or more if there is someone or several someones who would be willing to experiment going to meetings with me one or more times to get a sense of the position.  There are some perks.  The Society pays for me to stay in Richmond overnight the night before the meeting and I get the opportunity to eat lunch at and enjoy the exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which I joined. (The exhibits are wonderful and it's a delightful museum.)  I discovered an enclosed Amish market that I pass en route between my home and the meeting in Charlotesville and I always stock up on fresh nuts, pretzels, cheese, eggs and home made fudge before leaving Charlotesville. I have learned a great deal about Virginia's legislative process and have gained a great deal of respect for our lobbyist, Sue Rowland. and the members of the VSCSW Board, and especially Joe Lynch.  I am reaching out to anyone or more than one person to join me on an experimental journey with no commitment.  If there is more than one person, we can figure out how to split responsibilities.  Please give my request some consideration.  

Judy Ratliff, Chair, Virginia Legislation and Advocacy Committee

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Kirwan Commission recommendations for greater public school funding in Maryland includes having a mental health professional in each school

By Katie Smeltz, MSW, LMSW

In this legislative session, State legislators have a chance to correct the Maryland education funding formula by passing the Kirwan Commission bill.

After looking at the best schools in the world, the Commission spent years figuring out how to make sure that the State invests in the right areas and at a rate that creates equity. Their recommendations include investing in Pre-K and early childhood education, college and career readiness, high quality and diverse teachers, more resources for high-needs students,  and accountability and oversight. The Kirwan Commission’s recommendations include increasing resources for high-need students and advocates that each school have a mental health professional on staff.

Correcting this formula is essential because:

· Maryland schools have fallen to 26th in national rankings. Only 40% of Maryland graduates can pass a basic algebra test or a 10th grade English test. 

· In 2015, Maryland schools were found to be underfunded by at least $2.9 billion

· Black students are disproportionately impacted — 53% of Black students attend underfunded schools compared to 8% of white students. 

The Kirwan Commission recommendations will become a bill this legislative session and Marylanders will need to push our state legislators to get it passed. Contact Your Lawmakers now.

The Kirwan legislation had one hearing only. All four committees heard the bill at one time on Feb. 17,  which has already passed.

For more information: Katie.Smeltz@gmail.com or call/text 240-688-0592. Please join us.

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Attention New Members, almost new members, anyone who wants to meet new members, and non-members who are interested in finding out more about GWSCSW!!

Mark your calendars for the next Membership Brunch on March 22, 2020.

Time will be 11-1. Place will be the home of Cindy Crane, 7313 Millwood, Bethesda, MD. This is a FREE event, but please register so we know how many people will be attending.

If you have questions please contact Nancy Harris (301) 385-3375 or nlharris1214@gmail.com

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Diversity Committee Update 

Steve Szopa

I am writing to update you on the status of our Society’s diversity efforts. Here are several important updates and questions:

I have resigned as leader of the Diversity Committee as was planned at its inception. Unfortunately, no one has stepped forward to lead this committee and the committee has disbanded. Therefore, the first task of a new leader would be to check with former committee members to see if they would like to rejoin. I would be very happy to be an advisor to anyone interested in leading. The time commitment is modest and the new leader, along with committee members, would have significant influence on our Society’s diversity, inclusion and welcoming policies. Feel free to reach out to me if you are interested or have any questions:  steveszopa@gmail.com.

Diversity Meet-ups are still occurring but we need volunteers to host a book or video discussion about diversity-related themes. I would like to keep these popular events going but attendance at the last two meet-ups was low. I am interested in knowing if you are still interested in activities like this and if you have any alternatives.

I am also interested in knowing if anyone in the Society feels isolated or overlooked because of their race, age, way of identifying, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, etc. (Please forgive my imperfect attempt to list the many ways people can be made to feel “othered” and unwelcome.)

I look forward to your input.

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The Mentor Program is always looking for new mentors to work with newer social workers who are looking for guidance and help as they start their careers. You determine how much time you want to give; this is worked out with the mentee. For questions, please contact Nancy Harris, Coordinator of the Mentor Program, at (301) 385-3375, or nlharris1214@gmail.com. Thank you for your support of this important benefit of GWSCSW membership!

Communications Branch 

Kate Rossier, Director of Communications | Email: kazrossier@hotmail.com

Our website updates are complete, at least for now!  The quarterly newsletter is continuing to come out in its wonderfulness, thanks to our editor, Nancy Pines, and administrator, Donna Dietz. Thanks to all of you who contribute articles and poetry.  Chana Lockerman, our Social Media chairperson, along with our Treasurer, Alex Wood, are beginning to explore ways to expand our social media presence.  We’ll keep you posted as that effort gets going!

Please send any questions, suggestions, feedback or comments to admin@gwscsw.org.  

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Education Branch 

Susan Post, Director of Education | susan.post@gmail.com

Many interesting programs were offered during the fall and many more are scheduled for this spring. Please be sure to check your emails for notices of upcoming workshops offering Category I CEUs.

For the coming year, Leila Jelvani will be taking the reins as Director of Education. She is an enthusiastic proponent of continuing education for social workers and will be creating an exciting schedule of events. We are also looking for a few people to fill out the continuing education committee, so think about whether you’d like to become more involved in GWSCSW and what we bring to our members! 

We are already working on programs for the fall of 2020, so if you have an idea and would like to present to our membership, contact Leila at leila.jelvani@gmail.com and go online to our website and look up the application form for proposals: https://www.gwscsw.org/proposal-request. The sooner applications get to Leila, the easier it is to work on scheduling. 

Our presenters are paid $100 per presentation hour. The Continuing Education committee will work with you to find a venue and advertise your workshop. And if you’ve never presented before, we can help you work through objectives, the agenda, and A/V issues. 

Leila Jelvani: leila.jelvani@gmail.com
Shauna Alonge: salongelaw@gmail.com
Robin Seiler: rsseilerjr55@gmail.com

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Security for Your Therapist Website

By Sarah Gershone

Are you making sure your therapist website visitors feel safe? Understanding how to make your therapist website secure is a crucial step to having a successful website.

The online world is constantly evolving and changing. As more and more people come online, there is a bigger and bigger push for security and transparency in all of our online interactions. While this is a good thing overall, it can also be confusing for small business owners, who aren’t always aware of the most recent changes in the way the online world works. Making sure that your  therapist website is secure means taking a few extra steps to certify that the website you are running is really what it says it is. This is done through a Secure Sockets Layer certificate, or SSL.

What is an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a way of making sure that, when a website visitor fills out an online form or sends other confidential information through a website, the information actually reaches the right destination, and is not hijacked along the way by someone with malicious intent. Having an SSL certificate is a way to verify that your website is legitimate, and that the people who visit your website can be confident that any information they input into that website will be safe. It used to be that you only needed a secure site if you were going to be actually handling credit card payments, or other financial transactions, online. You may still find people who will tell you that therapists in private practice don’t need to worry about securing their websites.This is the kind of advice that is well-intentioned, but is very out of date, and in the long term can end up doing a lot of harm to your private practice.

The truth is, things have changed.

For one thing, people are a lot more cautious now than they were in the past about even sharing their email addresses. But more than that, people in general want the security of knowing that the websites they are interacting with are really what they say they are. And as a therapist, it is extremely important to ensure security for your therapist website. This is not only because it will make visitors to your website more comfortable, but because browsers have begun penalizing websites that are not secure.

As internet users get more and more savvy, platforms like Google and Firefox are aware that users really value security when using the web. To respond to this, most platforms are now actively penalizing sites that do not have an SSL certificate. This means that, if your site isn’t secure, Google will move you down in the rankings when someone does a search. Since they are now evaluating your site quality in part based on whether or not you have an SSL certificate, if you don’t have one, they will be less likely to show your website to people who are searching for you.

(To learn more about how to show up in the search results when a potential client does an internet search, sign up here for my free video course, where we go in-depth on this (and many other super helpful topics relating to your therapist website!). Many browsers now will display a warning or red stop sign symbol like this one to visitors:  


Or this one:


These warnings will inform potential visitors that the site they are viewing is not secure, and suggest that they not visit your website.

Not all browsers currently display these warnings, but many do, and it will likely be standard practice for all website browsers in the near future!  If you are trying to build a sense of trust with a potential client, having a warning like that pop up on your site is the very last thing you want to have happen. In fact, a recent Hubspot study showed that 82% of Internet users will immediately leave a site if they see a warning that the site is not secure!

So, is your website secure?

If you don’t know the answer to that question . . . then the answer is most likely 'no'. In general, you can tell from the URL of a therapist website. If the url for your website says, “http://www.yourawesomepracticename.com” then your site is NOT secure. If it says, “https://youraweseomepracticename.com” then your site IS secure. (“Secure” is what the “S” stands for!)

If your website is not secure what should you do? Answers to this question will vary, depending on where your website is hosted. You may want to contact your website hosting company, and ask for step-by-step instructions for how to secure your site.You can also try simply googling the name of your hosting company and the phrase “get SSL.” 

If you don’t feel up to DIYing, simply contact me and I’ll be happy to help. The good news is, this can usually be fixed fairly quickly, and then you can rest easy knowing that visitors to your therapist website will feel secure, and search engines will recognize your website as the high-quality site that it is.

Sarah Gershone is a Web Designer and Developer who specializes in creating websites for mental health professionals. You can reach her at Sarah@strongrootswebdesign.com or visit her website at: https://strongrootswebdesign.com

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Committee Reports

Continuing Education Committee
Shauna Alonge| Leila Jelvani
cecommittee@gwscsw.org

Click here to submit a proposal. Once submitted, the proposal will be reviewed by the Education Chair and the Continuing Education Committee. 

Legislation & Advocacy Committee
Judy Gallant
dirlegislation@gwscsw.org

You may have seen on our listserve, our website and elsewhere in this newsletter, requests for people to step up into leadership positions. This can be a real benefit to you as an individual, growing in your clinical and leadership skills and making meaningful connections with other clinicians as friends and colleagues. It is also a benefit to maintaining and expanding our Society, which all of us clearly value.

It looks like there may be an impending crisis in our Legislation and Advocacy (L&A) branch. Judy Ratliff is planning to retire from her position as Chair of the Virginia L&A Committee at the end of June. She has offered to work as a Co-Chair in conjunction with one or more volunteers, to help them become knowledgeable about the collaborative structure of working with our Virginia lobbyist and the Virginia Society of Clinical Social Work, which covers southern Virginia counties not covered by the GWS. That offer still stands, including helping people become familiar with current legislative issues in Virginia. But if no one steps up by July, the GWSCSW Virginia L&A Committee may cease to exist. We really need someone to step forward NOW!! Please see the article about Virginia L&A issues earlier in this newsletter for more detailed information about what is involved and contact Judy Ratliff at jratliff48@hotmail.com, or Kate Rossier at kazrossier@hotmail.com.

In Maryland, I am happy to report we have three relatively new committee members: Rebecca Deku, Erika Werfel and Rachel Dietrich, who are becoming involved in learning about the legislative landscape and our committee’s work. This makes it so much easier for me, as the Chair of this committee, to know that I have colleagues to help give perspective on the many issues that come up for us, and makes me feel hopeful for our future. I would also love to have a Co-Chair of the Maryland Committee, as well as a Co-Director for our Branch, but I am planning to continue for the next year in both of those roles.

In DC, Margot Aronson and Adele Natter continue as our Co-Chairs of that committee, and there are several members who have become involved in different ways, in monitoring the Social Work Board’s and the DC Council’s activities. If you are interested in joining them, your help is always welcome.

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 at anatter@verizon.net. in Maryland, Judy Gallant at judy.gallant@verizon.net; and in Virginia, Judy Ratliff at jratliff48@hotmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Membership Committee
Cindy Crane, Nancy Harris, Catherine Lowry
membership@gwscsw.org

Mentoring Committee
Nancy Harris
mentoring@gwscsw.org

The Mentor Program is always looking for new mentors to guide newer social workers who are looking for guidance and help as they start their careers. You determine how much time you want to give; this is worked out with the mentee. For questions please contact Nancy Harris, coordinator of the Mentor Program at (301) 385-3375, or nlharris1214@gmail.com. Thank you for your support of this important benefit of GWSCSW membership!

Newsletter Committee
Nancy Pines
npines12@aol.com 

Your newsletter welcomes ideas and articles about clinical social work and practice. We are also very interested in hearing from members who have specialized knowledge or adjunct therapy practices they want to share. 

Please consider your own life experiences and how they may have affected how you practice. One of the things I love about our profession is how we are always learning. Why not share your expertise and life lessons with fellow members? Send an email with your story/article ideas to npines12@aol.com. 

We now have three "proofers" (which AOL is always telling me is not a word, but whatever): Adele Natter, Shoba Nayar (both of whom have been doing this for several years),  and Steve Szopa, our former president. Thank you for your willingness to check out my work!

Social Media Committee
Chana Lockerman
socialmedia@gwscsw.org

The Committee is exploring how we can best serve you. Please email if you would like to weigh in or help out! We’re grateful to Alex Wood for consulting on this exciting transition. In the meantime, we are continuing to update the GWSCSW Facebook page with articles. Please visit the page, and like or comment on the posts. We have a fantastic guest contributor to the Tech Tips column. Please contact Chana Lockerman at chana@rockcreekcounseling.com with any questions or suggestions for future Tech Tips columns.

Volunteer Committee
Beth Pascoe
volunteer@gwscsw.org

If you are interested in volunteering, we need you! Check out our website  to see all the committees and details on what they do. Getting involved with GWSCSW is the best way to enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. 

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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.


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.

Silver Spring. Office space is available at 8607 2nd Avenue, Silver Spring, MD ⎯ near the Silver Spring Metro Station and parking. Available in February 2020, the suite has 4 offices and a quiet waiting area in a “smoke free” condominium building with an elevator, a kitchenette, powder room, high speed internet, and office equipment. Coffee and tea for clients and therapists. Space is available in eight-hour blocks of time, up to forty hours/week from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, seven days per week for use by a therapist who is licensed to practice in Maryland. For more information, please call (240) 348-6585 or email to: r.crowel@innertrac.llc

Two furnished windowed offices available for rent part-time in Montrose Professional Park in N. Bethesda/Rockville, MD. One office is available daily until 4 PM. Second large office available Fridays, weekends and Mondays. Free, ample parking for therapist and clients, close to 270 and 355! Ground level - 24 hour access. Newly remodeled, townhouse ground level style suite - beautifully decorated waiting room! No steps! Rent includes water cooler and weekly cleaning service; wi-fi, refrigerator, microwave, keurig coffee for therapist. Decorated, serene interior office includes desk, locking file cabinet, bookshelf, chair for therapist and sofa! Suite is shared with other therapists - lots of opportunity for referrals! For more information, email Pam at PRNCounseling@gmail.com or call 301-908-0353

Nicely maintained and exceptionally quiet unit across from Belle View Shopping Center and overlooking grassy courtyards with well-established trees, shrubs, and plants. Front room serves as a convenient shared waiting area adjoining the three excellent offices "RENTING- INDIVIDUALLY with Option of the whole unit". The interior features a shared full bathroom , parquet floors, laundry in building, and calm, neutral colors throughout. This second level corner unit features a porch overlooking the grounds in the largest office space. There is plenty of parking for clients, and you can easily walk across the street to the Belle View Shopping Center, including lots of shops and restaurants. This peaceful setting would be great for a small business, therapist offices, or other commercial use. Close to Old Town Alexandria, Fort Belvoir, the GW bike trail and the Potomac River. nelsonderm.ys@gmail.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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About 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

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 npines12@aol.com

Advertising: admin@gwscsw.org

Next submission deadline:  April 30, 2020

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

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