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 Policies and CE Accreditation Information
 

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 a $10 fee. 

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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 a $5 fee. 

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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 a $5 fee. 

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As the world struggled to contain COVID-19, many things that seemed routine were disrupted. Many individuals were affected both directly and indirectly by the pandemic and the many social issues the pandemic brought to light.  One population that experienced significant disruption in their daily lives were children and adolescents.  As we return to our daily lives with reduced restrictions, children are returning to school and activities. This change brings some challenges as children and adolescents return to in person learning, manage social relationships, deal with grief and loss, etc.  This workshop will focus on how clinicians can support children/adolescents and their families as they manage academic, social and family relationships.

CEs: 3 CEs are available for a $5 fee. 

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Racial inequities have become central in the national conversation about serious illness care during COVID-19. Moreover, the constant exposure to the indelible reality of health disparities across racial groups amplifies the need for cultural competence in palliative social work.

If we are to dismantle structural and systemic racism and provide equitable care for all, we must commit to becoming anti-racist healthcare practitioners. Reflecting on the current climate of social unrest and race-related inequities across diverse populations, a critical race theory perspective helps frame an understanding of the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 and the relevance for palliative and end-of-life care.

This webinar provides participants with knowledge and understanding of the revised NASW Code of Ethics, its values and principles. This session will examine the barriers and mediating factors influencing healthcare inequities and discuss cultural competence as a tool for addressing racism in palliative social work. 

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

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This course is designed to broaden the understanding and treatment of race-based traumatic stress (RBTS) within a historical and sociocultural context. The seminar will cover: 

  1. the role of integrating social justice principles into clinical practice when treating RBTS
  2. theoretical perspectives for case conceptualization
  3. assessment tools
  4. challenges involved in assessment and diagnosis
  5. clinical implications and approaches for RBTS

The richness of this seminar lies in case examples and group discussion that calls for a willingness to be present, to be curious and to share about clinical experiences. The overall goal is for participants to complete this seminar series having more confidence in working with clients of color who are experiencing RBTS and greater insight into the opportunities for growth and learning in your clinical practice. Although this seminar is geared towards clinicians with experience working with various types of trauma, those who may have less experience but are interested in learning more about the topic are welcome and encouraged to attend.

CEs: 9 CEs are available for $10 fee 

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Financial capability and financial well being can contribute to overall well being in clients by decreasing stress and increasing efficacy skills. Social workers use a broad range of interventions that support their work with individuals and families to improve lives and reduce harm. These interventions often include mental health counseling, parenting programs, substance abuse counseling, and sometimes, job training. What is missing from these interventions is a social workers’ ability to address the financial and economic vulnerability that continues to create instability and leads to families falling back into crisis. This financial social work course approaches financial capability from an economic justice framework. Materials and lectures include the historical legacy of racial, gender and social economic policies that have created and maintained the racial and gender wealth gap. The course seeks to dismantle the framework of personal responsibility as the core tenet of building financial capability for individuals, families and communities. Students are challenged to identify root causes and real-life solutions to address these disparities inherent in our financial system.

This workshop will provide a framework for social workers and other practitioners to examine their role in advancing the economic stability of individuals, families and communities. Participants will gain a foundation in techniques, tools and resources available to help clients build financial stability. Through a series of exercises and discussions, practitioners will understand the origin of the current race and gender wealth gap and gain insights about how values, habits and beliefs about money affect financial behaviors and impact client well-being. Participants will also learn practical skills like how to help clients create a budget, build credit and how to set and stick to a financial goal.

CEs: 6 CEs are available for $10 fee 

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This course offers an opportunity to learn more about the treatment of young adults who are struggling with an emerging mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia. We will begin by describing the fundamentals of diagnostic assessment for clients who are first presenting with symptoms of mania or psychosis. We will also discuss the principles of psychopharmacologic treatment of mania/hypomania, bipolar depression and psychosis. The course will then move into a discussion of the therapeutic work with clients as they navigate their illness. We will explore the advantages and disadvantages of a diagnosis, how to talk with clients about their psychotic symptoms and develop a shared vocabulary around them, how to navigate feelings of shame and stigma related to having a mental illness and how to work with clients to support them in the often frustrating process of medication treatment. We will use clinical vignettes to illustrate the nuance and tremendous impact that this work can have for treatment adherence and long-term prognosis and to describe the psychotherapeutic challenges of working with these clients. Participants will deeply explore the nature of this work and engage with one another, as well as the course material, in thinking about how to support young adults as they navigate and integrate a serious mental illness into their identity.

CEs: 3 CEs are available for $5 fee 

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This course will present Mentalization Based Treatment (MBT), a recent psychoanalytic  extension of attachment theory and research. MBT places strong emphasis on the relationship between attachment and mentalizing situated within the broader developmental gene-environment context. The multidimensional nature of mentalization will be addressed with attention to assessment of mentalizing, automatic (implicit) versus controlled (explicit) mentalizing and cognitive versus affective mentalizing. Additionally, the course will address MBT principles used in the treatment of relational trauma. Finally, there will be a discussion of the "relational passport" and other therapeutic techniques, illustrated with case examples. Course participants will be invited to share their own disguised case material, as appropriate.

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

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This course will provide an introduction to bioethics and offer an opportunity to apply frameworks for ethical decision-making in social work settings. There will be an emphasis on health care settings, however the content is applicable to a broad range of settings. In this interactive course participants will explore their personal and professional values and ethics, learn foundational principles and approaches to ethical decision-making drawn from the field of bioethics, and practice applying these approaches to decision-making in challenging cases. We will move beyond the typical four principles of bioethics (autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice), to include a wide range of ethical theories, including critical race, feminist, and intersectional theories. Self-reflection is a key aspect of this course in which we discuss the influences of individual decisions and organizational contexts on social inequities in health and health care. Discretion is key to quality, responsive and compassionate practice in organizations, and yet social workers must operate with a high level of self-awareness to avoid perpetuating personal and institutional biases in these spaces. We will also explore the conditions that create moral distress in practice within organizations and discuss interventions to decrease the impact of moral distress to support social workers and interprofessional colleagues. We will introduce the concept of organizational justice and apply an ethical decision-making framework for organizations to ensure equitable and inclusive policy-making processes and practices. This course encourages participants to come together with curiosity, empathy, respect and a readiness to share knowledge, be uncomfortable and have challenging conversations. 

CEs: 12 CEs are available for a $10 fee. 

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Mental health care providers face the daily challenge of interacting with individuals and families whose race, culture, national origin, living circumstances and family composition are different from their own, especially as populations of individuals from diverse backgrounds are increasing in both urban and suburban areas. In BIPOC communities, there still appears to remain a stigma against seeking mental health services, however, more recent research suggests that more individuals who identify as BIPOC are engaging with these services. In contrast, the sociocultural location of mental health providers is different than that of many of the clients that they serve. This overall difference creates the possibility of a disconnect between clients and their providers affecting the delivery of mental health services including engagement in services, acceptance of treatment approaches and successful treatment outcomes. This course will highlight the importance of self-reflection in working with BIPOC clients and their families, culturally responsive and competent cognitive behavioral assessment techniques, treatment planning and effective mental health service delivery.

CEs: 3 CEs are available for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register.

This course will provide an introduction to bioethics and offer an opportunity to apply frameworks for ethical decision-making in social work settings. There will be an emphasis on health care settings, however the content is applicable to a broad range of settings. In this interactive course participants will explore their personal and professional values and ethics, learn foundational principles and approaches to ethical decision-making drawn from the field of bioethics, and practice applying these approaches to decision-making in challenging cases. We will move beyond the typical four principles of bioethics (autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice), to include a wide range of ethical theories, including critical race, feminist, and intersectional theories. Self-reflection is a key aspect of this course in which we discuss the influences of individual decisions and organizational contexts on social inequities in health and health care. Discretion is key to quality, responsive and compassionate practice in organizations, and yet social workers must operate with a high level of self-awareness to avoid perpetuating personal and institutional biases in these spaces. We will also explore the conditions that create moral distress in practice within organizations and discuss interventions to decrease the impact of moral distress to support social workers and interprofessional colleagues. We will introduce the concept of organizational justice and apply an ethical decision-making framework for organizations to ensure equitable and inclusive policy-making processes and practices. This course encourages participants to come together with curiosity, empathy, respect and a readiness to share knowledge, be uncomfortable and have challenging conversations. 

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

Learn more and register.

At the heart of communication in health care settings and beyond are decisions related to language and word choice. As palliative care has developed and been integrated across settings and diagnoses, phrases and concepts such as “quality of life,” “goals of care” and  “suffering” weave across discussions, often without consciousness of the cultural, social and historical contexts of the patient and family we are serving. No matter the setting, words and phrases significantly impact patient and family experiences, decisional outcomes, bereavement and legacy. Well-intentioned, yet misplaced word choice, can negatively impact patient interpretation of information and create distance when the goal is to enhance connection. Social workers, as experts and leaders in communication, can model and educate as they attend to their own language in speaking and documentation, and invite colleagues to join them in mitigating the unintended consequences of ineffective word choice.

CEs: 3 CEs are available for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register.