November 27, 2011

Coming Out of Different Type of Closet: Breaking the Silence About Suicide

I don't need to tell anyone reading this blog how important it is to break the silence about suicide. I know we live in an age where it's uncouth to pry or offer unsolicited help, especially when it comes to those around us who are experiencing marital problems, legal troubles, substance abuse issues, etc. As a result, many of us prefer to be polite rather than risk putting ourselves out there or being put in an awkward situation. As a result, those individuals with suicidal thoughts or ideation feel even more isolated, since no one around them seems to notice what they are going through.

As the individual delivering the Ted Talk below states, "Because of our taboos around suicide, we're not sure what to say, and so, quite often, we say nothing." I truly believe that this silence perpetuates suicide.

As a call to action to my fellow social workers, I implore you to not only put yourself out there, but encourage your family and friends to look for the warning signs of suicide, and to start asking questions to those around them, even if it feels uncomfortable. If your friends or family don't know where to begin, start by sending them this short 4-minute talk.

UCLA MSW: Recruitment Materials 2011

A few weeks ago, UCLA's MSW program hosted its annual Diversity Day, a recruitment fair designed to give prospective students an opportunity to learn about the program, and to engage directly with faculty and students currently in the program. From a personal prospective, Diversity Day was incredibly influential in my decision to attend UCLA over other prestigious programs. I not only learned that student and faculty initiatives jived with my own interests, but I grasped that the UCLA MSW name and community would equip me with the right tools to achieve my long-term goals.

Due to geographical constraints, I know that several Nor-Cal and out-of-state prospective students were unable to attend. For those currently undergoing the application process, I highly recommend you read the following information packet that contains helpful hints on obtaining recommendations, tips for writing application essays, an application checklist, information about the GRE's, and several other helpful items. If interested, I've posted recruitment materials from the 2009, and 2010 Diversity Fairs. Enjoy!

UCLA MSW Diversity Fair Info Packet 2011

November 22, 2011

An Insider's Perspective: The Great and Not So Great Things About Community Mental Health

As I'm nearing the close of fall quarter in the second year of UCLA's MSW program, I wanted to take some time to reflect upon my experience interning as a Child and Family Therapist for a Community Mental Health (CMH) Center in Inglewood, CA.

From the moment I started seeing clients, my internship experience accelerated from 0 to 60 faster than I can say "self-care." Between learning agency norms, to deciphering Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) acronyms, to absorbing how to document clinical sessions (writing progress notes), to staying present in 8 hour trainings, I feel as though I'm in a constant state of playing catch-up. Someone important to me recently made an analogy that, in several ways, captures how I feel on a day-to-day basis at my internship. In describing his own experience at a new and very demanding job, he said that, "It often feels like I"m drinking from a fire hose." I too, feel as though information is gushing my way at a tremendous speed. Part of me questions how viable it is for an intern, who only works 20 hours a week, is supposed to absorb all the non-clinical information, all while trying to deliver mental health therapy sessions to a caseload of 7-10 clients?

Despite feeling behind most days, working in a CMH setting is tremendously fulfilling and has validated my decision to transition from the corporate sector to the humanity sector. On the not so great days, I always remember what a privilege it is to provide services to struggling individuals. And while the business of relationships is exhausting, it certainly is worthwhile.

Because I am a big fan of lists, below is a brief list of the great, and not so great things about interning in CMH.

Not So Great:
  1. The ungodly amount of paperwork
  2. Frequent client cancellations
  3. Shortage/lack of resources (includes offices to conduct therapy sessions, office supplies, broken bathrooms, etc.)
  4. Being at the mercy of the Department of Mental Health
  5. Shortage of trained translation staff
So Great:
  1. Clinically fascinating cases
  2. Tremendous support from other agency employees (psychiatrists, nurses, other therapists, interns, directors, coordinators, administrative staff, etc.)
  3. Client diversity (culture, religion, diagnosis, family dynamics, immigration status, etc.)
  4. Number of hours of supervision (5 hours/week or 25% of my time is spent in supervision!)
  5. Ongoing learning opportunities (primarily through continuing education seminars and group supervision)

November 17, 2011

Resources for Social Workers in LA County: The School of Mental Health Resource Directory

I just recently got my hands on LAUSD's Resource Directory, which contains a plethora of mental health agencies, hotlines, case management resources, and several other useful listings to aid social workers in supporting their school-aged clients. This is the most comprehensive directory I have seen thus far, and hope my readers find it useful. Enjoy!

Smh Resource Directory 2011-12 Final

November 8, 2011

Pre-Licensure Courses & Qualifying Curriculum

For those of you who don't know, MSW grads who wish to become licensed, that is, become LCSW's, are required to take the following pre-licensure courses prior to sitting for the licensure exam in California:

  1. Human Sexuality (3 sessions) 
  2. Spousal Abuse & Reporting (5 sessions)
  3. Aging & Long-term Care (3 sessions)
  4. Substance Abuse & Reporting (5 sessions)
  5. Child Abuse & Reporting (2 sessions)

In a gracious effort to alleviate some of the costs associated with tuition hikes, the UCLA MSW program announced that the department will offer the 5 pre-licensure courses free of charge to their second year students.

Because the classes can be expensive (up to $50.00 per session online) and time consuming (each session lasts 3-3.5 hours), I was very appreciative that the faculty was willing to schedule board-approved instructors to conduct the courses on campus. I happily signed up for all 5 and started attending the courses.

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you want to look at it), I recently found out a frustrating piece of information that would have significantly changed which pre-licensure and UCLA classes I enrolled in from the start of the year. True to form, the department did not mention that UCLA students can take courses within the department to satisfy a corresponding pre-licensure course.

Just so my readers don't end up taking unnecessary pre-licensure courses, below is a grid that details which UCLA MSW courses are accepted by the BBS:

Pre-Licensure Course
UCLA Course
1. Human Sexuality
Human Sexuality Undergraduate Course*
2. Domestic Violence
SW251: Violence Against Women
3. Substance Abuse & Reporting
SW231: Substance Abuse Intervention
4. Aging & Long-Term Care
SW231: Advanced SW in Aging
5. Child Abuse & Reporting
M203: Child Abuse & Neglect**

*According to faculty at UCLA, the BBS will accept an undergraduate course that contains "Human Sexulity" in the course title.

Buried deep in their website, the BBS has a list of "approved courses" that satisfy pre-licensure requirements (also shown below). Of note is that additional courses might be accepted by the BBS, so long as the syllabus and course title correspond with the pre-licensure course.

To make it easy for my second year readers to plan out the rest of their academic year, here is a list of UCLA MSW Classes for fall, winter, and spring quarters:
2nd Year Class Schedule