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

The Alternative Family Structures Approach (AFSA), created by Shannon Sennott, is an eight-session foundational guide for clinicians who are working with clients who wish to be in consensually non-monogamous relationships or redefine their family structure to include other emotional, sexual, or intimate partnerships. This workshop leads clinicians through the eight-session arc, offering therapeutic tools and structures to make meaning and create shared language about things that have only previously existed in unspoken forms for clients. 

The AFSA approach is general enough that it can support all kinds of variations and constellations of relationship orientations and structures. This approach supports a partnership that is considering opening their relationship after years of being monogamous, or relationships that are having difficulty finding compromises within their polyamorous commitment that is already present, and all that lies in between and beyond. We remind clients that these are often not skills of communication that were learned as an early blueprint in families of origin for clients. Therefore, it can be helpful to have a therapist attune to the meta-communication of the partnership while working within a structured approach, to aid partnerships in finding language and agreements that meet everyone in the relationships’ needs.

The Alternative Family Structures Approach has an assessment component and an agreement planning component. AFSA is founded on transfeminist and feminist thought, social justice frameworks and principles of allyship (Sennott, 2011, Smith & Sennott, 2011). AFSA can be understood as a lens for other therapeutic models and orientations (i.e., CBT, DBT, Individual, Group or Family Treatment). AFSA is designed for affirming clinical treatment with polyamorous, consensually non-monogamous and open relationship systems.

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

Learn more and register.

In the setting of astounding losses throughout the country and world, practitioners may want to reimagine how they think, talk and ask about grief and loss – with their clients and themselves. Starting with a review of evidence-based literature on grief theory, we will discuss the many ways grief, loss and bereavement can impact your patients/clients lives. The workshop will facilitate conversation around the many points of intersectionality related to loss and grief, including race, culture, environment etc. in addition to discussing what is different and/or similar about loss during COVID-19.

We will draw from a  psychodynamic perspective to discuss the importance of our own conscious and unconscious reactions, issues and understanding of grief and loss. We will use case discussions, taking a loss history and other interactive exercises to best understand our own role in this clinical work.

The workshop will present and discuss concepts of loss, grief and bereavement, intervention strategies, use of language, and self awareness techniques for clinicians working in a variety of settings and situations for their clients. Participants will leave with a toolbox of clinical articles, and direct practice suggestions to help them work with clients around loss and grief.

CEs: 4 CEs for social workers and psychologists are available for $10 fee 

Learn more and register.

Effective treatment of the spectrum of narcissistic injury must include an integrated understanding of narcissistically driven defenses and behaviors, ranging from:

  • expansive self-enhancement to crushing self criticism, 
  • devaluation of others to over-idealization and hero-worship, 
  • perfectionistic standards for achievement to defiant or flagrant disregard of rules and laws. 

This workshop will address how these contradictory facets of the self form a tightly constructed defensive organization to keep feelings of shame and inadequacy at bay. Through lecture, case examples and small group discussion, we will begin by examining the three basic styles of narcissistic overcompensation that are defensively-based constructions, comprised of beliefs and behaviors that were created in an attempt to preserve a positive sense of self and maintain emotional equilibrium and self-regulation. Participants will be provided with specific questions to enhance therapeutic inquiry techniques in the service of developing deeper listening and intervention techniques. 

To better understand how narcissistic defenses are maintained, participants will be introduced to an integrative Four Quadrant Model, a visual graphic that presents a picture of how narcissistic defenses can be understood from an intrapsychic and relational vantage-point. We will explore how compulsive-driven behavioral compensations are not sustainable over the long haul and eventually result in symptom break-through as well as episodes of punishing retaliation. Based on foundations in attachment theory, this model and the material provided in this seminar can be applied to psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral approaches with equal facility. 

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

Learn more and register.

This interactive workshop teaches a social justice framework for direct practice and pedagogy. Dr. Rani Varghese will incorporate didactic elements into a largely interactive workshop in which participants will have opportunities for individual and collective self-reflection to foster critical consciousness and engagement. In this workshop, participants will explore the connection between clinical practice and social justice work. They will learn how to reflect critically on social identities, personal biases and its intersections that affect perceptions of difference. Finally, they will identify strategies that foster transparency, accountability and shared power during encounters.

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

Learn more and register

Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. It is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. In the U.S., trafficking victims are almost exclusively immigrants-- the majority of which are women. This seminar will help participants understand what human trafficking is, in what forms it occurs and how social work can respond without re-traumatizing survivors. 

From a trauma-informed perspective, participants will engage with the intersectional phenomenon of human trafficking and take part in an informed discussion of how social work can work towards empowerment and social change. Participants will investigate intersectional injustices and social work practices on micro, mezzo and macro levels. 

Examining diverse materials, we will develop empowering hands-on social work tools and acquire a critical perspective on well-intentioned social work interventions that, while aiming to help victims, might instead cause victims arrest, incarceration, family separation and/or deportation. This seminar will include discussions of cultural dynamics and the cultural appropriateness of various clinical social work interventions. Reflecting on the appropriateness of advocacy tools will include understanding demand, prevalence, experiences of survivors, types of human trafficking, trafficking methods as well as national and global power dynamics. 

Skills acquired in this seminar strengthen clinical social work practices that work towards empowerment and are informed by cultural awareness, respect and the aim to provide trauma-informed care and harm reduction. The exploration of these ideas takes into account issues of culture, power, privilege and oppression. 

CEs: 12 CEs are available for social workers and psychologists for a $10 fee. 

Learn more and register.

Stigma against people with substance use disorders (SUDS) degrades the quality of services available for clients. This stigma also radiates out to the family and limits the informal social supports that families receive from their community, and the development and dissemination of quality services for families. Are we, as helping professionals, unwittingly contributing to the stigma these families face? If so, what can we do about it? How can we use what we already know about the value of unconditional positive regard, cultural humility and the family system to guide us forward and improve services for families experiencing a substance use disorder?  

Weaving together wisdom from multiple theoretical orientations, this short course will challenge the outdated paradigm of co-dependency, detachment and confrontation to build a more validating, strength-based, theoretically grounded base to work from when helping families survive a substance use disorder. 

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

Learn more and register.

The journey from adolescence to adulthood has always had many challenges but the COVID pandemic makes it even more daunting for Generation Z. Whether neurodiverse young people are facing high school or college graduations, many of them can’t seem to take the next step and move into an independent, satisfying adulthood they desire. Instead, they seem stalled by executive functioning challenges that are often combined with anxiety, depression, substance abuse or other co-occurring conditions—particularly related to COVID restrictions. Resentful of the efforts of their well-intended but sometimes overbearing parents, neurodiverse teens may struggle to navigate effectively during this complex stage of human development. In this webinar, Dr. Sharon Saline will offer you a comprehensive framework for understanding emerging adulthood. She will describe innovative, practical  tools to help clients balance their growing autonomy with appropriate levels of family engagement. She will describe how to foster key executive functioning skills that are critical for self-management, how to offer techniques for coping with the stress of "adulting" and how to intervene with challenging parents. Participants will leave with a clearer picture of extended adolescence and practical approaches to prepare your clients for the next chapter of their lives.

CEs: 2 CEs available for social workers for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register.

This seminar explores the foundations of domestic and sexual violence (DV/SV), including childhood exposure to and experience of such violence. Content includes basic conceptual knowledge about people who use violence, including the patterns of behavior, belief systems and sociocultural supports that help create and perpetuate DV/SV. Participants can also expect to gain an understanding of the dynamics, prevalence and effects of DV/SV on adult and child survivors, including the differential impact based on a survivor’s social location. By the end of this six hour training, participants will also acquire evidence-informed strategies regarding prevention, assessment and intervention.

This seminar meets the requirements for Massachusetts-based health professionals of state regulation Chapter 260 §9 and has been approved by MA Department of Public Health. Chapter 260 §9 requires that to maintain licensure with their respective licensing board, health care providers much have completed have training on domestic and sexual violence approved by MA Department of Public Health. Chapter 260 §9 applies to the following health care providers: social workers (LICSW, LCSW), licensed mental health counselors (LMHC), psychologists (APA), licensed educational psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), physicians (CME), physician assistants (CME), nurses(CME), nursing home administrators (NAB) and licensed rehabilitation counselors (LRC). 

CEs: 6 CEs are available for social workers for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register

“I think I’m broken.” When a client’s sexual experience doesn’t fit our society’s incredibly narrow set of narratives, they often feel broken, alone and/or confused. But you don’t have any special training in sexuality. How do you understand what is normative? Does your client need a doctor? A sex therapist? More information? 

This 3-hour seminar will provide intersectional psychoeducation regarding sexuality and sexual dysfunction from a cross-disciplinary perspective. It will provide a framework for social workers to evaluate and triage sexual health questions among clients, with an eye toward effective referral making and addressing the idea of what’s “normal.” At the end of this session, you’ll have the tools to support your clients when they need to confront a stressful diagnosis or navigate the healthcare system. You’ll also walk away with a broader understanding of diverse healthy sexuality and current concepts in sex education such as enthusiastic consent.

CEs: 3 CEs for social workers are available for $5 fee 

Learn more and register.

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 for a $5 fee. 

Learn more and register.