2013 News about the School for Social Work

Josh Miller keynotes at the Northampton Human Rights Day 2013

Tuesday, December 11th was the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, marked by local Northampton champions of human rights and social justice with a celebration that drew more than 100 people and local officials to the Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence on Main Street. Our very own Josh Miller, Associate Dean and Professor at the Smith School for Social Work was the keynote speaker, speaking about the United State's history of racism, and how it is a problem that continues to permeate American society today.


WHAW- Typhoon Haiyan: Disaster Relief and Recovery in the Philippines

Monday, November 25, 12:00 p.m. Lewis Global Studies Center, Wright Hall The Lewis Global Studies Center and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life will host a WHAW (What’s Happening Around the World) in response to the recent typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines. This discussion will include panelists Richard Chu, Five College Associate Professor of History with expertise in South Asia; and Josh Miller, Smith Associate Dean and Professor at the School of Social Work with a specialty in psychosocial disaster response; with opening remarks from President McCartney. A WHAW is an open forum to learn about and discuss global issues.


What is Gratitude?

Is gratitude an impulse hardwired in human nature? Is it a virture or is it a practice? How does gratitude affect everything from the brain and the spirit, to the economy and the culture at large? To get answers, Insight asked a number of Smith professors, including the SSW, to consider this question.

Smith Represents at First White House Briefing on Social Work Education

The first White House Briefing on Social Work Education was held on September 25, 2013. The briefing was arranged by the Council on Social Work Education and represents a real acknowledgement of the importance of social work by the Executive Branch of government. James Drisko, M.S.W. '77, Ph.D., represented the Smith College School for Social Work. About 80 invited social work educators and administrators from across the country heard presentations from the Obama administration on its recent efforts to support social work education and service. Topics included the impact of demographic shifts, the growing increase in Hispanic and Asian Americans throughout the United States, and the needs of multiethnic citizens were emphasized by Commissioners from SAMSHA and the Administration for Intellectual and developmental Disabilities. Changes in health care under the Affordable Care Act were detailed by Secretaries from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Opportunities for social workers to provide care, lead in service integration and aid in service navigation were all addressed. The Obama administration's effort to support community dialogues on mental health were also discussed (details online here). Finally, efforts to support social work education and loan reimbursement were described by administrators from DHHS. Social work participants advocated for explicit inclusion, clearly stated, of social work roles in the Affordable Care Act regulations. Participants also advocated for inclusion of LGBTQ persons in federal law to ensure equal access to all services. Many of the government administrators were professional social workers. It was a great source of information, advocacy and affirmation of the key role of the social work profession!

Witt Kieffer Secured in Search for New SSW Dean

College officials have contracted with Witt Kieffer, a firm well recognized for identifying academic leadership - particularly in schools for social work, to assist them in the search for a Dean to succeed Dean Jacobs. A Search Committee is working closely with the firm to provide guidance and direction about the unique aspects of Smith's School for Social Work. The search committee includes representatives from the various SSW constituencies including: Marilyn Schuster, Ph.D. - College Provost and Search Committee Chair; Associate Dean Josh Miller, Ph.D., Joyce Everett, Ph.D. and Phebe Sessions, Ph.D. - SSW faculty representatives; Randy Frost, Ph.D. - Smith College faculty representative; Chris Vaughan, Ph.D. '06 - Alumni Representative; and Karen Tsai and Isaiah Jones - student representatives. The Firm has met with members of the SSW faculty, administration and staff, student and alumni groups, and members of the College in an effort to better understand the School's priorities and the qualities needed in a new dean to meet those priorities.

Commencement 2013

School for Social Work confers degrees to 112 new graduates: Dean Carolyn Jacobs presided over the School's 93rd commencement on August 16 not only marking her final commencement with the School before her retirement, but also President Kathleen McCartney's inaugural address at the College. President McCartney and Dean Jacobs were joined by Dr. Salaman Aktar, who gave the commencement address; Vickey Sultzman, who spoke for the doctoral graduates; and Deepa Ranganathan who represented the M.S.W. graduates. See here for the full photo album. To hear President McCartney's full address, click here.

Award-winning psychoanalyst Salman Akhtar delivered the commencement address at the Smith College School for Social Work's commencement exercises, Friday, August 16. For the full address, click here.

Summer Lecture Series 2013

Stanley A. Holbrook, M.B.A, M.P.M., M.T.S.; Arlenis Morel; Dora Robinson, M.S.W.
Monday, August 5

Panel presentation title: Promoting Representative Leadership Structures in Social Justice and Social Service Agencies

The audience got to hear from three panelists about how they have worked to create organizational leadership structures that represent the communities they serve. The lecture was followed by an interactive workshop offering students the opportunity to reflect on both how to influence agency context upon graduation, and implications for the organizational structure of SSW student groups.

Kathryn Basham, M.S.W., Ph.D.
Monday, July 29
Lecture Title: Women in the Military: Rewards and Challenges

This lecture delved into the unique issues faced by women in the military, including: health and mental health outcomes; caregiving of children and elders; moral integrity/moral injury; military sexual trauma; and negotiating a masculinized culture. A synthesis of feminist, attachment and trauma theories, bolstered by neurobiology, informs a clinical social work practice approach with these servicewomen and their families.

Bringing kids in trouble back from the brink

Elissa Bellinger, a Smith College School for Social Work student, is determined to use her degree to help social-service systems, especially the justice system, adopt restorative-justice techniques. Read the article here!

2013 Career Fair for M.S.W. Graduation Students

Over 20 employers attended the 2013 Career Development Fair sponsored by the Lazarus Center for Career Development. Employers seeking to fill full time clinical positions competed to woo Smith students to consider their organizations upon graduation. In addition to the employers, the Fair included a “Networking Nook” hosted by alumni representing a variety of social work roles. Alumni in attendance included: Michael Carter, M.S.W. '08, Health Care and Rehabilitation Services (HCRS) Brattleboro, VT; Sarah Rigney, M.S.W. '09, Behavioral Health Network, Springfield, MA; Linda Puzan, Supervision Certificate, ’06, Univ. of Connecticut, Berkshire & Franklin County Elder Protective Services Program; Andrea Torres, M.S.W. '09, United Services, Inc., Willimantic, CT; Leah Krieger, M.S.W. '11, Treehouse Foundation/Berkshire Children and Families, Easthampton, MA.

Summer Lecture Series 2013

J. Michael Bostwick, M.D.
Friday, July 19th
Lecture Title:
Sex and Gender in the Olympics and the Real World Annual Conference and E. Diane Davis Memorial Lecture
Individuals with intersex conditions challenge binary definitions of sex and gender. Through two cases -- one an international celebrity, the other a patient who presented in routine clinical practice -- Dr. Bostwick explored challenges facing individuals who fail to fit neatly into either male or female categories, and suggest that such neat delineations are ultimately specious.

Vigil for Restorative Justice in The Wake of the Trayvon Martin Verdict

On Tuesday, July 16, the Smith College community held a Vigil in memory of Trayvon Martin. Short readings and musical interludes were offered as those in attendance mourned the absence of social and racial justice represented by the Martin case. Reverend Matilda Cantwell, who spearheaded the gathering commented, "As social workers, each of you is specially located in this time, and in so many times of upheaval and despair. For each of you in different ways, the tragic death of Trayvon Martin is your time; to feel what you feel without judgment; to acknowledge the unspeakable pain being felt by those intimately involved; and then, in time, to begin to act to bend the moral arc of the part of the universe you inhabit toward justice." The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life and the School for Social Work Spirituality in Action Program. (Full transcript of Rev. Cantwell's comments.)

Summer Lecture Series 2013

Charles Swenson, M.D.
Monday, July 15th
Lecture Title:
DBT Principles in Action: Psychotherapy of Disorders of Severe Emotional Dysregulation
This lecture provided a detailed discussion of the three paradigms, their associated principles, and how they inform the therapist in sessions. Several case examples were used to illustrate the teaching.


On Eve of Retirement, Social Work Dean Lauded

When she was a new student at the Smith College School for Social Work, Deepa Ranganathan attended an event during which Dean Carolyn Jacobs offered her class some valuable advice. "Focus and keep going and carefully select which battles we were going to fight," Ranganathan recalled during a retirement reception for Jacobs in June.


Summer Lecture Series 2013

AndreAs Neumann-Mascis, Ph.D.
Monday, July 1st
Lecture Title:
A Clinically Meaningful Understanding of People with Disabilities and the Impact of Ableism
This lecture reviewed the evolution of disability as an identity, a community and a field of study. Dr. Neumann-Mascis examined the impact of disability and ableism from a sociopolitical perspective and a psychodynamic perspective and identified the ways in which disability and the impact of ableism can shape clinical themes. She also discussed a dimensional framework for providing informed and meaningful care to this diverse community of people.

Moderator: Michael Funk, Ph.D.
Panelists: Enroue Halfkenny, LCSW Arden O'Donnell, M.P.H, M.S.W, LICSW Elizabeth Rodriguez-Keyes, Ph.D., LCSW

Monday, June 24th
Lecture Title:
Anti-Racism Work in Clinical Practice
Anti-racism Lecture
This panel brought together a group of Smith College School for Social Work graduates to discuss how they put antiracism work into action in a clinical context.

Richard Davidson, Ph.D.
Monday June 17th
Change Your Brain by Transforming Your Mind
This lecture presented an overview of studies conducted in a laboratory on neural changes associated with different forms of meditation, exploring how one can transform the mind through meditation.

John Creswell, Ph.D.
Monday June 10th
Mixed Methods Research and Social Work: State-of-the-Art
This lecture presented the basics of mixed methods research for the novice researcher to give the participant a solid introduction to the field of mixed methods research.



Melanie Suchet, Ph.D.
Monday, June 3rd
Lecture Title:
Relational Psychoanalytic Practice:
Subjectivity and Self-Disclosure

This lecture explored the analyst's subjectivity in relation to self disclosure. Has the pendulum swung to a point where self disclosures are not only permissible but valorized? How does the analyst find the right balance between an open, authentic experience which depends on the use of their subjectivity and a careful, thoughtful approach that does to thrust the analyst's self unnecessarily onto center stage?

Associate Dean Joshua Miller Featured in Insight Journal Summer Lecture Series 2013

When disaster strikes-whether it’s in this country or in places like Sri Lanka, China, Haiti or northern Uganda-the recovery process unfolds differently from one region or culture to another, and healers coming to help must honor these differences if they want to be effective, according to disaster mental health responder Joshua Miller. He has come to recognize that the healing of human minds and spirits plays an essential part in rebuilding and reckoning with loss.