Go Beyond Traditional Practice

with SSW Professional Education

The careers that create meaningful, lasting change in people’s lives are led by professionals who all share a determination that routinely takes them above and beyond. And you can find those individuals in the professional education programs of Smith College School for Social Work. Here you’ll find a community that recharges you in ways that go beyond networking, programs that transform careers and a commitment to greater justice and anti-racism.

Smith College School for Social Work Professional Education is where the best thinkers come together to tackle the relevant issues in clinical social work today.

Upcoming Events

Professional Education offers two types of events: virtual seminars and webinars. 

Virtual Seminars are taught in Zoom classrooms and offer the same lively interaction as our on-campus seminars but from the safety of your own home. Seminars may include role plays, group discussions, breakout room activities and/or practice applications. These courses are not recorded so one must attend live to earn CEs. Participants are asked to have their microphone and camera enabled.

Webinars are synchronous lectures with a moderated Q&A at the end. These courses are recorded and CEs (self study) may still be earned if you are unable to attend the session live. Participants need to be able to see the slides, type in questions to the Q/A box and hear the presenter.   

(Webinars noted below with *)

Professional Education Policies and CE Accreditation Information

Resilience skills help individuals to manage stress and navigate challenges with greater emotional strength and flexibility. The session will provide an overview of several resilience-building strategies and the research behind them. This is an interactive workshop in which participants will learn and practice a range of exercises and discuss how they can be used in their work with clients. Exercises include self-compassion practice, guided visualizations, writing and reflection. 

CEs: 2 CEs are avaible for social workers and psychologists for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register.

Increasingly we are being called to understand the role that brain development plays in a number of key functional domains in children who have experienced developmental trauma. These domains include sensory integration, self regulation, relational and cognitive capacities. Each of these is mediated by neural networks which develop in a particular sequence and particularly rapidly during the ages of conception through 3 years. Better understanding these key aspects of brain development and the sequential nature of processing is key in relation to working with children who struggle with symptoms of developmental trauma. This workshop will introduce participants to core concepts in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT™) - developed by Dr. Bruce Perry - as they apply to working with children who have experienced developmental trauma in a variety of settings. Particular attention will be payed to “operationalizing the concepts” in practice and the relevance of early intervention. Descriptions of core concepts in practice will illustrate their relevance in “real life” settings and situations. Pragmatic hands-on emphasis will be a key focus throughout this training.

CEs: 6 CEs available for social workers. 

Learn more and register. 

There is much research that supports the fact that LGBTQIAP+ communities experience a higher level of stress and that there are subsequent mental health and addiction disparities that occur.  These disparities are due to violence and discrimination perpetuated against members of these communities and exacerbated by multiples sites of marginalization. It is imperative for mental health clinicians and addiction professionals to receive training and education about how to understand and integrate culture into their work, and how to actively cultivate an anti-oppressive and affirmative lens when working with members of these communities. 

Many practitioners report feeling ill-equipped and lacking competence in providing affirmative care to LGBTQIAP+ individuals. This course is specifically for clinicians who have had limited experience with the above-named communities, and will prepare the practitioner to accurately recognize, assess, and treat individuals who identify as LGBTQIAP+ who are struggling with substance abuse and related problems. 

Participants will have the opportunity to examine their own socialization around sexuality, and how it has impacted them personally and professionally. Insight strategies will allow participants to explore the importance of examining functioning across domains of functioning, including sexuality and sexual identity. Terminology will be reviewed, and special attention will be paid to culturally-specific risk and etiological factors, and evidence-based culturally-responsive and affirmative treatment.

CEs: 6 CEs available for social workers and psychologists for a $10 fee.

Learn more and register.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors have been increasing among children and adolescents in the United States over the past decade, and social workers are routinely faced with the challenge of assessing and managing this risk. This workshop will increase participants’ competencies for understanding, assessing and managing suicide risk in children and adolescents utilizing evidence-based strategies that are applicable in real-world clinical practice settings. Participants will learn about and gain hands-on experience with a flexible, evidence-based tool for suicide assessment, the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS), and an evidence-based strategy for suicide risk management, the Safety Planning Intervention (SPI). Participants will also: 

  • Review current research related to suicidal thoughts and behavior in youth, including examination of risk and protective factors in the context of an individual’s cultural background and diverse identities. 
  • Increase professional self-awareness and  explore vicarious traumatization as it pertains to working with high risk youth and families. 
  • Discuss strategies for assessing and responding to suicide risk in a developmentally appropriate manner, as well as ways to address common concerns regarding suicide assessment for youth.
  • Identify developmentally appropriate adaptations of this intervention, and considerations for application across clinical settings.

CEs: 3 CEs available for social workers and psychologists for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register.

Within the world of clinical social work, and in particular psychodynamically oriented work, there have been growing tensions between those who perceive clinical social work as an art versus a science. While there are some scholars that have demonstrated the effectiveness of psychodynamically-oriented interventions (such as Shedler and Fonagy), the issue of how psychodynamically trained social workers can incorporate research into their everyday practices has been very limited, both in the literature and discussions within clinical practice circles. An important focus should be on psychodynamic interventions as both an art and a science. This presentation will identify how the evidence-based practice process (EBP) can and should be a critical part of every social work practice, and how its principles can be a complement to and enhancement of the psychodynamic interventions that clinical social workers are using within their practices.

CEs: Public lectures are free and open to the public. Lectures also provide one and one-half (1.5) Continuing Education Credits (CEs). The cost to register for CEs is $15 per lecture. 

Learn more and register. 

This seminar is designed to help clinicians identify how early childhood attachment experiences and/or failures are directly connected to the development of one’s beliefs, values, motivation and assumptions about the self in the world and self-in-relationship to others. Regardless of one’s your therapeutic orientation or your level of experience, conceptualizing how parts of the person connect or do not connect to form an integrated, cohered self is an acquired skill that deepens and improves over time. Participants will review techniques including moment-to-moment tracking, part-whole analysis and listening to the subtle nuance of language to help uncover hidden feelings that lie beneath the surface of the therapeutic exchange. Through tracking these process dynamics, participants will be shown how to stay aligned with the client’s experience in the present, thus creating a more secure therapeutic holding environment.

The structure of this course will be a combination of lecture, group discussion, pre-recorded videotaped session vignettes as well as therapist-client process recordings. Through these examples, participants will be shown how minor disappointments can trigger feelings of shame, micro-dissociative ruptures and possible negative transferential responses on the part of our clients. We will discuss and practice how to catch and repair minor ruptures that occur throughout the treatment process, thus preserving and strengthening the therapeutic relationship.

CEs: 6 CEs are available for social workers for a $10 fee.

Learn more and register. 

Motivational Interviewing (MI), an evidence-based communication style particularly useful in conversations about change, is widely utilized in a variety of social work practice settings.  Despite the abundance of research supporting the importance of the relational elements of MI (empathy, partnership), most training focuses on MI skills (open ended questions, affirmations, reflections and summaries) and strategies (evoking change talk, softening sustain talk).  This seminar fills that gap, exploring the relational as well as technical elements of Motivational Interviewing, with an emphasis on the spirit of MI.  Participants will consider the connection between the spirit of MI and other psychoanalytic and behavior change theories, reflect upon the effect of practitioner and client social identities on the clinical space and practice integrating skills and strategies to enhance partnership and empathy in practice.  Participants will also consider the opportunities for practitioner self-assessment using the Motivational Interviewing Treatment Integrity (MITI) coding instrument.  Highly interactive in nature, participants will have the opportunity to practice MI, as well as provide and receive structured feedback using the MITI.  Demonstration of MI, practice exercises and discussion will be facilitated via large and small group breakout sessions. 

CEs: 6 CEs are available for social workers for a $10 fee. 

Learn more and register. 

This course will familiarize participants with the basic facts of interrelated aspects of the climate and biodiversity crises, and to inform participants about the social and psychological impacts of these crises on individuals, families and communities. Recognizing and approaching client concerns related to these crises will also be discussed. Additionally, an understanding of psychological defenses and socio-cultural factors at play in the avoidance of these crises will be described. The workshop will highlight the concepts of psychological containment and the “window of tolerance” needed for facing anxiety-generating information related to the CEE.

Participants will learn how to use relationship and containment for maintaining hope, developing a sense of agency, and avoiding “information overload.” Participants will also learn how the current economic system fuels oppression and creates a “culture of uncare,” leading individuals to feel a sense of moral injury and lack of freedom by virtue of simply being embedded within the system. Participants will understand the importance of collective action to create systemic change, and will also be able to identify examples of socio-cultural habits detrimental to sustainability goals, such as frequent air travel and participating in a throw-away culture. Common emotional reactions, as well as defenses impeding change will also be discussed. Clinical scenarios involving clients approaching these issues will be briefly discussed.

CEs: 1.5 CEs are available for social workers for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register. 

Depression is a leading cause of disability in the United States and worldwide. It is estimated that one in five individuals will experience depression in their lifetime, and while these symptoms are common, under-treatment is often seen in practice. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a valuable evidence-based intervention and effective approach to use in practice for individuals experiencing depressive disorders. This training will discuss depressive disorders, CBT theory and approach in practice and use of CBT to treat depressive disorders among adults.  

CEs: 3 CEs available for social workers for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register.