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December 2010
In This Issue...

Recently in Social Work Today...

Data Driven, People Focused — Technology Takes on Social Work
Data management companies now realize that making their products useful to social work means collaborating with frontline social workers and demonstrating in social service language and context how the technology helps providers and clients. Read more »

Making Caring Connections and Cutting Costs — Social Work in the Emergency Department
Emergency department healthcare can be fast, frustrating, fulfilling, and costly. Social workers in the emergency department help patients, staff, and the bottom line. Read more »

People With Alzheimer’s Pool of Art and Music Memories Runs Deep
Art and music therapy have been successful in accessing deep-rooted memories and enhancing communication in older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Read more »

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Editor’s E-Note

We have all had the experience of not knowing what to do in a personal situation. We fumble for the right words, struggle to think of the best course of action, and feel like we are floundering. But the experience of not knowing how to proceed in a professional situation after years of education and training can be a uniquely unsettling one.

The author of our E-News Exclusive found herself in just that position. Fortunately, she handled it in an intuitively caring and compassionate way, but the experience forced her to ask some tough questions about the cultural competency of her training and the practice models on which it is based.

Read about her extraordinary experience and the issues she raises of whether or not her professional social work background prepared her for meeting with a client whose narrative and behavior reflected a global backdrop of unspeakable tragedies, worlds apart from this social worker’s cultural experience.

We welcome your comments at Please visit our website at and join us on our Facebook page.

— Marianne Mallon, editor
E-News Exclusive

An Experience of ‘Not Knowing’ Challenges Existing Practice Models
By Carly Goldberg, MSW, LCSW

She was dark, very dark. Petite and drowning in remnants of African garb layered with donated clothing from decades past. On her face was written a story that sadly reverberates around the globe. Rachel was an African woman infected with HIV. With her narrow back pressed up against the dimly lit office wall covered in local HIV/AIDS resources and pamphlets promoting safer sex practices, she was lost. Her eyes though, they stood out, all on their own. In the first few minutes of our meeting her eyes alone told me so much—the terror, the loss, the isolation, the trauma. The second Liberian civil war displaced not only Rachel’s body but her mind and spirit, too.

Via a refugee camp in Sierra Leone, Rachel arrived in Philadelphia just three months prior to our initial meeting. She came with her two children aged 4 and 8, her decreasing CD4 count, susceptibility to opportunistic infections, and her all-too-vivid memories of murder and rape. I, a white, privileged, American-born, licensed and master’s-trained social worker, was to acquaint her with the ways of safer sex practices and how she could reduce the spread of HIV infection. Her eyes drifted off and her gaze seemed noticeably fixed on memories of her not-so-distant past. Tears gently rolled down her face. Stumbling for words, like a fish out of water gasping for air, I choked. I choked on my discomfort, my lack of experience in working with refugee survivors of genocide and civil unrest, choked on my mother tongue, and choked on the knowledge and experience that I have come to rely on in my social work practice.

Full Story »

Other Social Work News...

Drug Companies and Academics Partner to Find New Psych Meds
MSNBC reports that several major pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers are sharing data to stimulate discovery of new psychiatric medications.

Stigma Prevents Many Latinos From Getting Mental Health Treatment
According to CNN, Latino culture attaches a strong stigma to mental health conditions, hampering treatment.

Could Rash of Bullying-Related Suicides Prompt Copycats? reports that some experts are asking whether a recent rash of bullying-related suicides could encourage others to commit suicide in a show of solidarity.

‘Not in My Back Yard’ Attitude Persists
According to The Denver Post, the good news is that public perspective on mental illness has improved but the reluctance to work and/or associate with people who have mental illness remains.

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