Why the DSM 5 Doesn’t Acknowledge Sensory Integration Symptom and How that Harms All of Our Clients

Register for CE programs nowRuth Pearlman, LISCW

Wednesday, November 10, 2021
10 am – 12 pm
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition where a person has difficulties regulating their senses within their environment. These are our clients who can experience the world as being “too loud” or “too intense”. They can experience the world as being so sensory over-whelming that their bodies go into a defensive “fight, flight or freeze” stance. For many people with SPD, their constant need to re-regulate their senses to adapt to the stimuli around them, creates symptoms of distractibility, irritability, anxiety, and depression.

So where is SPD in the DSM-5? It isn’t. Although more than half of all the diagnostic criteria of disorders in the DSM-5 describe symptoms of SPD, the APA refuses to acknowledge SPD as a disorder. Therefore, DSM-5 conditions such as ADHD, PTSD, Tourette’s, ASD, ODD, the Anxiety Disorders as well as Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, are never understood or treated through the lens of sensory integration. Yet all of the above disorders are, in large part, sensory-based disorders. Imagine trying to treat a client with ASD or PTSD and not teaching the client about their sensory system reactions?

In this interactive webinar, participants will:

  • Explore the long-delayed need to incorporate sensory integration issues into our working knowledge of the DSM-5
  • Recognize that negative behaviors of are better de-escalated when sensory overload can be quieted (calmed down), similar to “sensory rooms” and “sensory placed” used in schools
  • Consider the clinical cost of these misinterpretations for both children and adults

Understanding Military Culture: Implementation in Treatment

This webinar provides 2 hours of content on practice with Veterans.

Christopher Morse, MSW,  Readjustment Counselor, Providence Vet CenterRegister for CE programs button

Thursday, November 11, 2021
10 am – 12 pm
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

While the U.S. is seeing increased attention paid to the mental health, substance abuse, and suicide issues within the military and veteran communities, there is also increased concern about our nation’s capacity to provide the services needed. More and more veterans are obtaining mental health care in the civilian sector, but frequently community clinicians have a limited understanding of military and veteran culture.  To assist in developing a therapeutic rapport with veterans and service members, trainer Chris Morse MSW, has drawn on his own military and clinical experience to develop this webinar. Chris will provide clinicians with an overview of military culture, norms, and mores and explore how military life and the combat environment may shape the presentation of the client throughout treatment.

This webinar will:

  • provide a brief overview of military culture and cultural components
  • examine how military service may later affect a veteran’s future interactions
  • identify aspects of military culture that may influence the presentation of the client

Dr. Kathryn Libal Co-PI on OVPR Research Excellence Program Award

Dr. Kathryn Libal Co-PI on OVPR Research Excellence Program Award

Dr. Kathryn Libal, Associate Professor and Director of the UConn Human Rights Institute, was named a Co-PI on an Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) Research Excellence Program (REP) award:

Investigator: Oscar Guerra, Digital Media and Design
Co-PIs: Glenn Tatsuya Mitoma,  Curriculum & Instruction and Human Rights Institute; Kathryn Libal, Human Rights Institute
Project: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout in Stamford, CT: A Multimedia Archiving Project
Award: $24,999.35

The primary goal of the Research Excellence Program is to provide seed funding to fuel innovative research, scholarship, and creative endeavors with strong potential for:

  • Significant extramural funding from federal and state sponsors, corporations, industry partners, and foundations.
  • Achievements consistent with the highest standards of accomplishment in the discipline.

Shall We Zoom? Benefits and Challenges of Providing Group Work Services in a Virtual Environment

All practitioners of groups are welcome – those currently facilitating in the virtual world and those facilitating in person groups who are interested in developing new knowledge and skills to integrate into their practice.

Joan Letendre, PhD, LCSWRegister for CE programs now

Thursdays, December 2 and 9, 2021
1 pm – 3 pm
4 CECs

$80 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$100 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us personally and professionally. At a time when many of us were experiencing personal challenges related to the pandemic, we were asked to develop ways of creating positive virtual group experiences in our agencies, communities, and classrooms. Flexibility and creativity were called for as practitioners and educators adapted new models for working safely with clients so in need of services during this time.  With the use of technology for delivering services, it was necessary to adapt different ways of engaging and working with students, group members and colleagues. This 2-part webinar will focus on the challenges and successes of this work.

We will have an opportunity to learn about and experience a virtual group as we examine this model.  We will pay special attention to the elements that foster group engagement and development of mutual aid. In Session 1, we will focus on planning and engagement of members in the overall group and each session and activity. Much of the planning will involve the translation of elements of an in-person group to one that is virtual. In Session 2, we will use a problem-solving model to address the common challenges that group workers encounter (high and low participation, conflict, value-laden topics, curriculum vs process etc.).  Instructor and participant examples will be used to illustrate the problem-solving model that encourages members to be active participants in learning from one another and offering mutual aid.

Using didactic instruction, small and large group discussions, activities, and videos, participants in this 2-part webinar will:

  • Develop a group climate where we can share the challenges and successes of on-line formats of group service delivery
  • Review planning and engagement strategies and apply to on-line formats
  • Share different creative strategies for developing a climate of support and mutual aid in on-line groups
  • Review the problem-solving model in relation to common group challenges that may be exacerbated by the on-line format
  • Learn to manage conflict in a way that gives affirmation to many points of view

Understanding Animal Assisted Therapy: How it Conforms to Social Work Practice

Lori Ratchelous, LMSW
Register for CE programs now

Saturday, October 23, 2021
9 am – 11 am
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

The webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

Animal assisted therapy (AAT) has become increasingly popular over the past decade. Questions surface as to what AAT really is. Therapists often question if by having their animal present while working are they actually providing AAT services to their clients. AAT is a specialty and is much more than bringing a pet into the office.

This webinar will explore a model of understanding the impact of the human-animal bond on attachment, affirmation, and affect regulation while providing an overview of three broad areas: a) What is AAT and how is it incorporated into our practice; b) How human-animal interactions and the human-animal bond can impact human health and well-being; and c) The powerful potential that positive connections with animals have for healing and promoting resiliency in human beings while at the same time providing a benefit to the animal.

At the conclusion of this webinar, you will be able to:

  • describe and classify human benefits-including physical, emotional, psychological, and social benefits that can be communicated through HAI (human-animal interaction) and HAB (human-animal bond)
  • demonstrate the ability to match differing therapeutic animal roles and interventions to address the different types of human-health and wellness related needs in different settings (schools, nursing homes, hospitals)
  • identify and examine values, ethics, and risk issues for both humans and animals involved in human-animal interactions
  • gain knowledge on ways to incorporate animals in a psychotherapeutic process for special populations (children on the spectrum, elderly, dementia)

JSWE Focuses on Education During the Pandemic

Dr. Cristina Wilson, Associate Professor and Research Director, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UConn Health), coedited a special issue of the Journal of Social Work Education (JSWE) that included 19 articles focused on best practices and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and prior natural disasters. Visit the CSWE website to read more and access the special issues. 

Helping Parents Navigate the New Normal: Promoting a Child’s Social and Emotional Wellness

Deborah Poerio, DNP, APRN, FNP-BCRegister for CE programs now
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
2 CECs

$40 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$50 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

The past year and a half have brought about unprecedented transitions for families and many parents find themselves in uncharted waters. Unanticipated life challenges, added roles to parental responsibilities, social isolation, and fear of the unknown have increased stress for both parents and children. Participants will examine these remarkable transitions and their impact on preschoolers (2 – 5 years) and parents. The webinar will incorporate approaches from ADAPT©, a multidimensional community wide evidence-based, screening, assessment, and therapeutic intervention program.

Through lecture and the use of case scenarios, participants will:

  • review the normal growth and development for Preschoolers (2 – 5 years)
    • identify common deviations and the methods children use to express deviations
    • learn about effective interventions and valuable resources to address behavioral issues

SSW Alumni Spotlight: Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro, MSW












  1. Name, Profession Title, SSW Class & Concentration.

Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro MSW, 092 (pending), 2016 – Administration and Case Work

  1. Briefly describe your current career path.

I have been fortunate to continue doing community work around many social issues. Currently, my role as Vice-Chair for Interval House Connecticut allows me to create awareness on domestic violence and intimate partner violence issues; it is the largest safe house in the state. I am proud to serve my community and give back to the very agency that I once resided in. I am also a school social worker for Hartford Public Schools and I run a small business, ‘Ends2meet LLC’, which creates awareness on poverty and provides people with basic needs including counseling. Additionally, I am the Co-owner of ‘2AssureUS’ LLC, which will be providing consultation services for mental health startups and offer therapeutic services as well as parenting programs.

  1. What are your favorite hobbies?

No hard work goes without some fun! Family and good friends are priorities. I make time to enjoy traveling, working with photography and hosting events.

  1. What was your favorite moment at UConn SSW?

Some of my favorite moments were making lifelong friends even though I came in as an adult learner. Additionally, I was fortunate to meet inspiring professors who demonstrated trust in my abilities and even donated to my then cause, End2meet.

  1. What is something you learned at UConn SSW that still applies to your work today?

I learned to be a better leader and not to give up, especially when the moments are challenging! It is in these areas where our strength is found. I learned that our gut feeling is more important than the credit it gets. Most importantly, I learned more about advocacy and today most of my work revolves around it, whether I am speaking up for a student’s needs, joining a cause, speaking at events, creating awareness, building equity and hope all comes from knowing the importance of advocacy.


The Role of Self-Stigma in Engagement in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Associate Research Professor Hsiu-Ju Lin is working on several federally funded projects related to the opioid crisis. She is a co-investigator on a Nation Institute of Drug Abuse funded Diversity Supplement study for Transitions Clinic Network: Post Incarceration Addiction Treatment, Healthcare, and Social Supports (TCN-PATHs). To read more about the TCN-PATHs project, visit the UNC Center for Health Equity Research website.

Beyond Borders: The Human Rights of Non-Citizens at Home and Abroad

Beyond Borders: The Human Rights of Non-Citizens at Home and Abroad

Dr. Kathryn Libal, Associate Professor and Director of the UConn Human Rights Institute, co-edited Beyond Borders: The Human Rights of Non-Citizens at Home and Abroad. Published by Cambridge University Press, the book was made available online in August 2021.

Read the preface below:

States have long denied basic rights to non-citizens within their borders, and international law imposes only limited duties on states with respect to those fleeing persecution. But even the limited rights previously enjoyed by non-citizens are eroding in the face of rising nationalism, populism, xenophobia, and racism. Beyond Borders explores what obligations we owe to those outside our political community. Drawing on contributions from a broad variety of disciplines – from literature to political science to philosophy – the volume considers the failures of law and politics to guarantee rights for the most vulnerable and attempts to imagine new forms of belonging grounded in ideas of solidarity, empathy, and responsibility in order to identify a more robust basis for the protection of non-citizens at home and abroad. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

Molly Land is the Catherine Roraback Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut School of Law. Her research focuses on the intersection of human rights, science, technology, and innovation.

Kathryn Libal is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Human Rights and Director of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut. Her publications have focused on human rights, social work, and refugees and asylum seekers.

Jillian Chambers is a Juris Doctor Candidate at the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she is the Symposium Editor of Volume 53 of the Connecticut Law Review and Executive Brief Writer for the Connecticut Moot Court Board