There is no more valuable resource than your time and I’m most grateful for all the times you have taken the time to visit, read and/or comment.
This post highlights 18 thoughtful comments you made this past year.
Whether you are a new or regular visitor, reading through these comments can give you an idea of the wide range of topics covered in 2014 from career management and licensure exam tips to trauma-informed care, trigger coping strategies, child protective services, hoarding, self-disclosure in therapy to supervision and more.
Please note that your responses are listed in chronological order, with the earlier ones appearing first.
I hope you enjoy going through these as much as I did 🙂
Good post Dorlee. I like the idea of a blog post like this one (or a series of blog posts) on just the habit of leaving comments. There is an art and science to it. To answer your question, I also recommend responding to a question with another question. It gives the blog author or other readers an open invitation to continue a discussion thread – which opens up other ideas and connections.
Helpful post! I would like to add a trauma therapy perspective. When I am working with clients with a history of child abuse or neglect, they cannot trust me if they can’t read my positive intentions, so I encourage clients to check out their assumptions about what I am thinking and feeling. I also make every effort to be as authentic and transparent as possible about my emotional reactions, while remaining constructive and therapeutic. This type of disclosure helps clients with impaired trust to learn to distinguish between the intent of my behavior and that of their abusers.
I have also found that sharing briefly about overcoming my own trauma history, without details, can help give clients hope that they can heal. I have used this kind of self-disclosure to resolve therapeutic impasses, especially when a client views suicide as a viable escape from intolerable emotional pain.
Great tips! One tip I would like to share is something I found as I was prepping for my 3/31/14 exam: naming something based on the alphabet.
For example, you can name food items. Apple, banana, celery, etc. as you’re going along, you feel calmer and it’s distracting you because you’re really trying hard to find the next food item. I was surprised that it actually worked!
Along with studying content, taking timed pratice exams, traveling to the test site a few days prior, and not telling many people I was taking the exam, I was able to pass on the first try. Here’s the video of the de-stress exercise: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=E1NGshsC1I4
Sounds like an interesting book. I wonder if the book addresses some of the technology challenges: women being tracked via their cell phones, etc.
I also wonder about cultural differences and also the differences in women who live in urban areas with a lot of services as opposed to those in rural areas.
I agree that a holistic approach, that includes the woman in the decisions and builds on her strength would be beneficial.
Amy Knitzer, LCSW said on Battered Women’s Protective Strategies – Book Review…
Thanks for a thoughtful and concise summary, Dorlee of this important book.
Sounds like the author is quite brave(in challenging myths) in her approach to this issue. I guess I did buy into the myth that the best approach in working with battered women was to encourage them to make a plan to leave the batterer.
I thought that the cycle of violence continued and often got much worse and could lead to death for the battered women, so then the only route to saving womens’ lives was to leave the relationship.
In your summary, I’ve picked up that there are dangers with any choice the woman makes but that there are choices that need to be carefully explored, besides leaving the man involved. Sad that the legal system penalizes the batterer.
I’m also glad that the author dispels the myth that not leaving equals passivity. I’ll take that view with me after reading your review.
Wow: Your graphic (illustration) at the top is so vivid, laced with words like ‘courage, fear, dare, anxiety.’ Your poetic post then serves to knit together what the words all mean, how they interlace.
As you’ve been encouraging us to understand through your prior research and blog writings, our brain interprets ‘something new’ as ‘mistakes or possible threats.’ I think that is such an important lead-in to your post as we often misinterpret our fear of the ‘new’ as being a warning that we shouldn’t proceed.
Further, the idea of mini-goals is so smart and reasonable, and powerful. The smaller goals add up, sometimes bit by bit and sometimes it seems almost suddenly as if we’ve climbed a mountain in short order (even if it happened over the course of days, weeks, months or even years!).
DARE is such a wonderfully empowering and liberating word. I love witnessing your journey in employing the word ‘daring’ into your 2014. You sound invigorated, hopeful and motivated. And you are motivating others of us with your finely architected messages!
Thank you for opening up your heart, soul and learnings with us!
PS – Linda Graham’s suggestion that we dare to do something new each day has me thinking and pondering. What I like about that is, if we are having what may feel like an uninspired or dull (or even sad) day, just giving ourselves ‘permission’ to do one thing (no matter how small) that is daring (even if it’s as simple as sending a note to someone you’ve been dragging your feet on or, adding a new line of copy to your website that you were resisting adding because it was new or uncomfortable <– obviously this is the entrepreneur in me brainstorming), it can add an empowering, sparkly or otherwise invigorating feeling to that day!
Thanks again for all you do to educate, inform and inspire, Dorlee!
Bonnie Mattingly said on Core Principles of Trauma-Informed Care: Key Learnings [1 of 3] …
Thanks for posting this! I’ve been learning in the past 2 yrs how important trauma-informed care is, and now I’m using the UCLA PTSD screen every time I get a referral that indicates trauma.
I get really surprised by the scores I get on it sometimes…and I’ve been seeing that there is a strong correlation between acting out in anger and past traumatization. Even traumas that people don’t necessarily see as traumatic…like a successful medical surgery that the child perceived as invasive, terrifying, etc.
Dorlee, thanks for writing this post! As a BSW educator, I am frequently asked for recommendation letters from students wanting to attend graduate school or trying to get a job. Your post covers all the important steps from being an engaged student in the classroom to writing a thank you note for the recommendation. I often ask students who request a letter from me to first write a draft letter.
While this does help me to offer a better recommendation (I am often unaware of volunteer work or overall GPA), I find it also gives students an opportunity to reflect on their own skills and career development to date. Many BSW students find it very challenging to write their own recommendation letter and I plan to share your post with them. It always makes my day when a student tells me that they were accepted to graduate school or that they got the job!
Excellent post, Dorlee. You’ve covered all the key points. One additional suggestion I would make is that if you’re asked to draft a letter yourself, ask for help from another student who knows you well, preferably someone who has been in class with you. It’s very hard to write a letter about yourself, and often people overlook qualities or accomplishments of their own.
Getting some input from someone who knows you well – be it a classmate (or former employer) may be of tremendous help to students who have been asked to put together a letter of recommendation draft.
This is likely to remind them of personality attributes and achievements that they take for granted (or just draw a blank on) but should not because they are part of what distinguish them vs. other applicants.
Kallena Kucers said on Social Worker Living Successfully with Dissociative Identity Disorder …
Lovely write-up and interview. Thank you so much for sharing your story “Janet”. It’s so so good to read about someone managing to live and work (especially as a social worker – as that is one of our ‘past careers’ – and really, the paid job we had that all of us liked the best) with DID.
A lot of how you describes your parts co-operating is how we were around maybe 5-6 years ago. We could choose who would be “out” for what occasion, we co-operated that the part best suited to whatever event went and did that, we had ‘safe places’ for most of the parts that needed them to be in while we were doing things that were not OK for them to do and we could ask someone else to come out and take over if one part got too tired… Yet – we still tried our best to hide it all from everyone else. Always.
There is so so much stigma and we’d never tell if we still worked as a social worker either, and I think we even come from a different continent to you. I guess you have a very strong “part that does the job”, or otherwise have a social work job very different to the type of jobs we did (before we found out we had DID). We had already lost our social worker job before we discovered we had DID and moved into academia before beginning our journey to learn about all of us and manage to live with all our parts.
I feel the types of social worker jobs we did would be massively too triggering for us to do ever again though, most likely. Even then, when we did have a separate part that did the job, we got triggered into massive flashbacks several times by having to work with people who’d experienced really violent and/or abusive things that were too close to what we’d lived through.
In some respects it has become more difficult for us to function as we used to since our parts became even more integrated, as “we” naturally morph into “I” overall as there is no longer that ‘extroverted part’ who can go to social functions on behalf of us all, for example. Now it feel like “I”, have to motivate all of me to make what is a huge effort to do something that is so “not me” overall.
But – who knows? Probably the most problematic factor in getting another job as a social worker for us would, in the end though, be the realities of the horribly competitive and underfunded sector and the problems of ‘returning to work after a long break on disability’ rather than whether we ourselves with our were capable of returning to that type of work and whether I made the decision that that was the career and life path that suited me most overall or not
I wish you all the best in your continued life and career. Thank you for sharing. X
Hi, Dorlee! I’m getting to this post late but wanted to thank you for reviewing this book on supervision. So many times mental health professionals who have really great clinical skills believe that because they are good with their clients, that they must also be good at clinical supervision.
Research has consistently shown that while there is overlap in skill sets for clinical work and clinical supervision, there is also an entirely different set of skills that is also needed for effective supervision to take place.
I know in the field of counseling, the trend is for clinical supervisors to have additional formal training in supervision. I wonder if that is true for the field of social work, too . . . . Are clinical supervisors in social work expected to have formal training beyond their master’s level training?
I strongly agree with the premised of your question regarding clinical supervision. I’m referring specifically to the belief that mental health professionals who have excellent clinical skills with their clients, “must” also be good at clinical supervision. I think that they may or may not be good clinical supervisors.
Many factors are involved from my perspective. One would be how seriously the supervisor takes this responsibility, how much time they spend preparing for a supervision session and for supervision in general. The understanding of the supervision process, on the part of the supervisee and their ability to be open about doubts or concerns they have about their work with a specific client or in general, is also a significant factor in how effective the supervision process can be.
If the supervisee, for example, sees the supervisor as someone with enormous “power over them,” they are likely to be very closed and withholding during supervision which can turn supervision into more of a “power struggle” than an opportunity to learn and improve one’s knowledge and skills. So, the research findings that you summarized seem very logical to me, and completely consistent with my perspective, as stated above.
I have been a clinical supervisor, which first requires having an LCSW. The supervisee is typically known as P-LCSW. I attended the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board’s Supervision Certification course…
They had a good number of presenters over the course of the 3 days, and I generally found them to be knowledgeable, spoke about relevant issues, and had good presentation styles, keeping their material clear, understandable and presenting it with considerable passion!
Among the presenters there, as best I recall, was the then current Board Chair, and he spoke powerfully about ethics issues, boundary issues and the extreme importance of establishing and maintaining strong boundaries with one’s clients. He specifically spoke about the fact that having any type of sexual relationship with a client or supervisee is strictly prohibited, and that the Board has ways of watching out for such occurrence, and that any complaint filed would be fervently investigated until a determination of its substantiation or non-substantiation were made. If any allegation was found to be true, that social worker was expelled from the profession, without any opportunity to return.
Another presenter that I recall was the current Board Vice Chair, and her presentation also focused a lot on ethics. So many topics were covered it really wouldn’t even be feasible to attempt to include them all. Among some I recall, one is that 100 hours (minimum) of supervision must be provided to the P-LCSW licensee, must be done face to face and cannot include telephone or online communication.
Twenty-five of the 100 hours may be group supervision. The appropriate use of the supervision hour was also discussed. It should include a review of cases by the supervisee, including assessment and diagnosis, interventions used, theoretical rationale for the intervention, and outcome of each intervention.
Issues of transference and counter-transference should also be discussed, as well as sexual attraction and boundaries. Supervisors should also regularly review documentation included in the files of the supervisee’s clients for clarity, relevance, description of what was discussed by client, what interventions were made, and any mention of any substantial change in mental status.
Within the Supervisor Manual provided to the conference’s attendees, Sample Emergency Crises Plans, Sample Supervisory Agreements and Log, a bibliography of supervision literature, continued education requirements were all included, plus much more!!!
As I’m sure is evident, the certification class is rigorous, extremely detailed, presented in a very serious and professional manner and I perceived it to be exhaustive in what it covered.
There was also a take home test to be completed and returned to the Board by a specific date, which the Board reviewed and determined if the test was passed or not. If passed, one received their certification for clinical supervision, as per the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board. Fortunately, I did pass!
Thank you for asking the question Tamara. I sincerely liked and benefited from thinking and reading about clinical supervision again!!
Katherine Holguin said on A Day in the Life of a CPS Social Worker …
The blog was very helpful, especially the part about possible interview questions! I have an interview with CYFD coming up soon. I also appreciate the insight about what to expect when conducting home visits and meeting with children in the school environment.
I have to admit that I am most concerned with my ability to defuse uncomfortable situations. I can only imagine how upsetting it would be for a parent to handle this type of situation. Overall, I found the blog very useful and intriguing. Something I would have wanted to hear more about are possible ethical dilemmas that a CPS social worker may encounter.
Dorlee, What a unique way in which to share some important information. One of the rules of teaching is to disseminate the information in as many different ways as possible in order to meet the needs of the different learning styles of the students.
In this case, you’ve chosen poetry, in order to make the distinction between collecting and hoarding.
Additionally, the creative sharing of Mary’s story helps to keep the boat of hope afloat.
I agree with Amy – this is a heavy topic, and your way of writing about it may help someone lighten the load enough to start movement in the desired direction. Well done!
This is a great post… I want to preface my comments by saying that I am not quite sure if I have read the post correctly. Please clarify if I haven’t.
Are they suggesting the therapist using these techniques in session while feeling triggered? Or is this for the therapist using during one’s own supervision or therapy? If it is meant to be used in session, I have some questions. If it’s meant for out of session, I feel it could be incredibly useful in helping a therapist work through his/her own emotional reactions to a client and teasing apart what part of her reaction is about the therapist herself and what is about the client.
These are great resourcing, body based techniques. I feel like ideally these would be used in the context of therapy or supervision to help develop some resources for the therapist. For instance, the sacred place could be practiced outside of session and called upon in session.
It does seem important to have some methods to use in session should we get surprised and find ourselves triggered, but if we are consistently triggered to the point that we need to use these techniques while in session, then I am not sure that treatment is going the way I would like. I believe that in order for sessions to be safe and productive, the client AND the therapist must feel safe with what is happening in the room. For example, if the client is verbally attacking the therapist, this is not safe for anyone. The therapist needs to intervene to somehow shift the dynamic.
The client may pick the therapist’s discomfort up and also feel unsafe or feel that they are perpetrating on the therapist. How can the therapist hold the therapeutic space if she/he is so triggered that he must put so much energy into these visualization exercises? How can he be attentive?
I am a strong believer in using self-as-instrument. This means being very aware and attentive to the therapist’s own internal responses in session. This also means the therapist has the insight to discriminate between her own issues and the client’s.
I own too that it is natural as a therapist to have times where one’s own traumatic material gets called up. Again, I’m not sure if I am reading this wrong, or if it belongs in a larger context that speaks to the role of supervision, etc. However, I don’t think it’s appropriate for therapists to work with someone if they are consistently triggered by them and can’t focus most of their attention on the client and the work.
If this came up for me in session with a client, I would want to talk with a supervisor about the following: Am I emotionally prepared to work on this issue without being triggered and be present?
What about this client or session was so overwhelming for me? Has the client has dug too deep too quickly? Should I be helping to set some boundaries on how much and how quickly she shares?
Or is some of my traumatic material getting called up? Am I holding appropriate boundaries with the client? Am I too involved? Do they remind me of someone? Can I work this through in supervision and/or therapy? Can I provide safe, quality care for this client?
Will using some of these techniques in supervision outside of session offer me the resources I need in session to do the work in a present, boundaried, and relaxed way?
In my own work with clients, when I have felt triggered, I have usually found that I need to examine some of the questions I stated above. Sometimes I need to make my boundaries less permeable. I may need to be very empathic, but not get “in the hole” with the client, or create a bit of a psychic bubble around myself with a client who is spewing a lot of anger or fear my way. I may need to change my expectations of progress, etc.
I am curious what others have to say because for me being triggered in session speaks to needing to do some exploration around why I am getting triggered and what the best next steps might be. It always speaks to the need for supervision, and sometimes my own therapy work.
I wonder how you read it, Dorlee? Thanks so much for engaging me in this thought provoking post. While I am not sure I will fully use these tools while in session, I may well use them outside, and call upon some aspect of them as a reminder about my goals in session.
While your post is titled: “Got Triggered By Client in Therapy? Use Coping Tools!”, I can see this retitled to “Got Triggered By Your Staff in a 1-on-1? Use Coping Tools!”.
Not only would the four CRM Resources for Therapists be helpful for an executive, manager or supervisor provided we practiced these; but your list of somatic responses is useful in pinpointing when we are being triggered. Many executives, managers and supervisors tend to be head people and consequently, we aren’t as attuned to our physical responses.
Thank you for another post that is applicable for many, not just social workers.
Betty Blythe said on Social Justice: How Everyone Can Help Heal the World …
I was happy to learn about this book. I ordered a copy as I think some of the readings will be relevant for my global perspectives/gender inequality class. Thank you for bringing it to my attention!
Dorlee – these are great questions. I’d add:
Would you be willing to be on-call nights and weekends?
If the full time position is filled, would you take a prn/relief worker position?
The agency doesn’t provide cell phones. Are you willing to call clients from your personal cell?
Thanks so much again for your loyal leadership and valuable contributions!
Which were your favorite posts this year? Are there any particular topics that you would like Social Work Career Development to cover in 2015? Please share your thoughts/comments below 🙂