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
 

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. 

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Our work as social workers often involves supporting our clients and their families through difficult decisions. Numerous factors influence how decisions are made, including our own and our clients’ habits of thinking. These might include, for example, whether individuals are accustomed to thinking about the decision context, or whether they depend on specific people to help them make a decision. Deepening our understanding of decision making will help us make more effective decisions, as well as respond to and guide clients, helping them to find approaches that are more mindful and less reactive. To this end, this course will discuss a standard decision-making process that describes how we generally make choices. We will then explore how and why factors — including emotional stress, uncertainty, and incomplete information — alter the usefulness of the standard model. We will examine how cognitive shortcuts (called cognitive heuristics) that serve us well in our daily decision making can, under stressful circumstances, instead lead to what are called cognitive biases, or errors, that negatively affect decision outcomes. Some of these cognitive heuristics include availability bias, framing effect, confirmation bias and the false consensus effect. Taking these influences into account improves our own decision-making skill and our ability to improve how we navigate conversations with our clients. Better decision making and clearer conversations will improve treatment plans. 

CEs: 2 CEs are available for a $5 fee. 

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rates of violence towards Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) individuals has increased drastically. Join Dean Marianne Yoshioka, M.S.W., MBA, Ph.D., LICSW, and our panelists Hye-Kyung Kang, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D., Rani Varghese, M.S.W., Ed.D.  and Phuongloan Vo M.S.W, LISW-S to discuss the current challenges facing the AAPI community and the roots of AAPI racism in the United States. The panelists will also explore the effects that this increased racism is having on the AAPI community and the role of social work to intervene. Panelists will identify programmatic and services needed as well as actions that can be taken at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Finally, the panel will discuss the vicarious traumatization, especially on AAPI providers, and the important steps to support AAPI social workers in radical self-healing.

CEs: 1.5 CEs are available for a $15 fee. 

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Social Work leaders, clinical supervisors and directors of organizations/agencies have been tested throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with experiences of shared trauma and disruption to the psychological and physical wellbeing of the organization's life, its leaders and its supervisees/employees. This seminar will examine the challenges and opportunities of transformational leadership and social work practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also examine creating healthy organizational culture and organizational growth using the framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and holding environments for social work agencies to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic world.  Lastly, attendees of the seminar will develop action plans and next steps to incorporate these concepts into their leadership and social work practice. 

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

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This course is designed for clinicians working with non-monogamous or polyamorous individuals or couples/relationships. It assumes that therapists know some basic definitions and concepts of Consensually Non-monogamy (CNM)/ polyamory. This course will build on that knowledge and explore variations and different themes in CNM and polyamorous relationship structures. The first half of the course will dive deeper into understanding the lived experiences and challenges of CNM/polyamory. We will examine philosophical and values-based frameworks that influence one’s choice to pursue non-traditional relationship structures,  as well as how hierarchy and power dynamics can influence and inform decisions made within those relationships.  Intersectional identity themes of various polyamorous/CNM individuals and groups will be explored, and participants will gain a deeper understanding of how and where oppression shows up and intersects with those who practice CNM or polyamory.

The second half of the course will focus on key therapeutic skills to assist clients with navigating challenges and pitfalls within polyamorous and CNM relationships, all from a trauma-informed lens. The different dimensions of attachment and attachment injuries will be explored as they relate to CNM and discussed within a framework of actively grounding relationships  in empowered and collaborative care, healing, and mutuality. Core themes of differentiation, autonomy and secure base will be integrated in discussions of the therapeutic relationship and therapeutic skills taught.  Themes of codependency and boundaries will be discussed, and participants will have the opportunity to practice leading discussions that assist clients with getting clear on their wants, needs, boundaries, expectations and agreements with their partner(s).  Other core skills of conflict resolution, dealing with jealousy, navigating changes and sexual health will be discussed.  Participants will also gain understanding of the importance of community-building and other key resources that will help CNM and polyamorous clients feel more empowered and prepared to navigate their relationships.

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

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This interactive webinar offers an introduction and deepening discussion around the relational turn which has gained momentum in psychoanalytic thinking and practice - particularly in America - over the last four decades. Unpacking the integrative theoretical origins of the paradigm, the workshop will focus on the key principles which scaffold relational thinking and practice. The workshop begins by tracing the origins of the relational tradition, highlighting its integrative foundations in which can be found the influences of object relations, interpersonal, as well as sociological theories. The workshop will spotlight some of the core tenets of the relational frame. In particular, and drawing on clinical vignettes, we will explore notions of co-construction in the therapeutic relationship, non-neutrality and the subjectivity of the therapist, intersubjectivity and thirdness, multiple self-states, social-constructionism, and the significance of the social context against which the encounter unfolds. In discussing these central principles, the relevance of a relational sensibility to the field of clinical social work will be emphasized. The workshop will close with a discussion of the potential of relational thinking and practice to contribute to social justice imperatives, linking relationality to feminist theory, queer theory, critical race theory, and positing its potential activism role within the socio-political movements which define our contemporary times.  The workshop will consider the contribution which relational psychoanalytic work can make to the social justice issues of our time, and how relationally-oriented therapists can participate in social activism through the clinical encounter.

CEs: 3 CEs are available for a $10 fee. 

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The understanding of gender identity continues to evolve at a fast pace with growing diversity and nuance. In spite of increasing acceptance of transgender identities, trans community members still face intense stigma, violence and barriers to participation. Many service providers have good intentions about trans inclusion; with a deeper understanding and expanded toolbox, they can build on those intentions to create truly trans-inclusive practices. This course explores the impacts of the current binary gender system and its relationship to histories of colonization and examines key terminology and concepts for understanding trans identities, as well as barriers, risks and resilience factors common in trans communities.  The course provides examples of trans-inclusive practices, practice applying them and an opportunity to ask questions about real world scenarios. Participants will leave this course with a foundation for integrating trans-inclusive and -affirming practices into your work.

Please note: Back by popular demand! This course was previously run as a webinar called Foundations for Trans Inclusive Practice in 2019 and the recording was available as an online course. If you have already taken it, much of the content will be be similar.

CEs: 2 CEs are available for a $5 fee. 

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In a therapeutic relationship with a survivor of domestic violence, it is imperative that clinicians be prepared to assess risk, apply safe and supportive interventions and understand the community resources available to their client. This live, interactive webinar strives to enhance clinical competence and confidence when working with identified adult survivors of domestic violence. Through case studies, engaging activities and thoughtful conversations, learners are invited to expand their perspective and integrate trauma-informed, intersectional and collaborative responses into their practice.

Content of this seminar includes an overview of basic risk assessment as well as an exploration of various evidence-informed clinical approaches for therapeutic work with adult survivors of domestic violence. With both of these components in hand, participants are asked to practice assessing the level of risk facing a survivor, and to subsequently practice identifying and applying the proportionate level of intervention. Additionally, participants can expect to critically analyze potential consequences from often well-intentioned interventions as well as systemic barriers to much-needed interventions. By the end of this three-hour training, participants will also acquire knowledge of the various community resources available to survivors. 

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

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Suicide is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States and worldwide. Nearly 50 percent of individuals who die by suicide see a healthcare provider within a month of death, yet suicide risk assessment and treatment is consistently difficult in practice. With the majority of mental health services in the U.S. being delivered by social workers, it is imperative that risk assessment and safety planning knowledge and skills are in place for our work with clients with the ultimate goal being to prevent premature suicidal death.

This workshop will discuss and present on suicide as public health issue in the U.S., risk and protective factors, warning signs, barriers to help-seeking, risk assessment process and risk formulation, safety planning and cultural humility in risk assessment with use of a clinical case.  This workshop is focused on the adult population.

CEs: 6 CEs are available for $10 fee

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This program is focused on interweaving Somatic Experiencing (SE), a trauma therapy, into psychodynamic therapy for clients who suffer from unresolved early trauma and severe forms of dissociation. David Levit, Ph.D., ABPP, SEP, will outline the SE model and discuss its basic principles. He will illustrate ways to draw upon approaches from SE by presenting clinical process from an ongoing therapy with a client who struggled with catastrophic dissociative episodes and who had a history of severe early trauma. Levit will discuss the interweaving of SE in terms of various psychodynamic perspectives, with emphasis on Winnicott, and especially on the role of SE in enhancing provision of "holding." He will also illustrate in a broader sense how the SE model can supplement talk therapy by enriching our ways of looking, listening and responding. 

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a model originally developed by Peter Levine for understanding and treating post traumatic stress disorder. It has been expanded to treat psychic/somatic/nervous system dysregulation more generally. SE provides perspectives and approaches that are especially helpful in our work with clients who are prone to either states of intense over-activation (anxiety, panic, terror, agitation, rage, etc.) or under-activation (freeze, numbness, emptiness, deadness, etc.). A central aim of SE is to facilitate the restoration and enhancement of the client’s intrinsic regulatory capacities, with the larger goal of bringing a more highly resourced self to the task of processing life’s ongoing experiences (including experiences in the therapy context). SE has particular relevance for people who are vulnerable to the triggering of dissociative states related to trauma. 

This program is appropriate for all psychotherapists, those who are informed by psychodynamic, CBT, EMDR or other approaches. No prior knowledge of SE is needed.

CEs: 3 CEs are available. 

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How do therapists become more effective at helping teen clients and beleaguered parents survive the delusional thinking of adolescence? Most therapy traditions hold that a mark of healthy functioning is to see reality as it is (whatever that means). But what if a key sign of adolescent health is, instead, an “optimal delusionality?” What would happen if therapists stopped looking to modify or work around the unique structure and functioning of the teenage brain—delusional though it may be at times—and do more to intentionally foster and celebrate the creative and generative aspects of that adolescent’s alternative worldview?

In this workshop, participants will learn strategies to help join with the spirit—if not the style— of adolescent clients and support their worried parents. Using Developmental-Relational Theory (DRT), participants will explore the benefits of effective dependence and how compassionate adult engagement can provide relational bumpers for young clients careening on their way toward rich and complex identities. Drawing on research into adolescent social, emotional and neurological development, we will discuss the four most common adolescent delusions. This conversation will be framed within the context of legitimate adult concerns based both in memories of our own teen years and a shared appreciation for the unprecedented dangers and challenges of growing up in 2021. Through case examples and lively discussion, we will consider what happens when we stop trying to correct and override adolescent thinking errors so they problem-solve like adults while helping younger clients to stay safe and live fully as they are.

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

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