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Honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

From the Office of Dean Heller

Dear Colleagues,

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. First established as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in 1978, the observance was expanded to a month by Congress in 1992. At the School of Social Work, we take this opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, staff, faculty, and members of our community.

The past few years have been especially challenging for AAPI communities who have faced harassment and attacks across our nation. As a School that values diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism, we oppose this bigotry and stand in solidarity with AAPI communities. We know they make UConn and the School of Social Work stronger.

Our support of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month aligns with the mission of our profession and the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. These ethical standards include social justice, dignity and worth of the person, and the importance of human relationships.

All month long, let’s make a commitment to honoring the rich heritage and cultural experiences of AAPI communities. Throughout U.S. history, AAPIs have contributed to and shaped American culture, science, medicine, literature, art, government, politics and so much more. Today, AAPIs are the fastest growing racial group in the country. Read the history and take part in events in your local area.

In solidarity,

Nina

Nina Rovinelli Heller, PhD
Dean and Professor
Zachs Chair in Social Work

 

Trauma-informed Care in the Age of COVID-19

William C. Gilbert, PhD, LCSW, AADC
Saturday, June 11, 2022Register Now for CE programs now
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

Trauma affects many of the clients we serve and is the catalyst for many mental illnesses. Now, our country is faced with a new universal stressor: COVID-19. The pandemic has caused the loss of lives, businesses, and has changed the “normal” way of life for many. The trauma experienced because of COVID-19 has created problems on micro, mezzo, and macro levels.

The first hour of this webinar will explore our current understanding of trauma reactions including polyvagal theory and the work of Bessel van de Kolk. The second hour will apply the ideas discussed to the current trauma experienced as result of COVID-19.

By the end of the webinar, participants will be able to:

  • describe the current theories on trauma reactions
  • understand how these theories are applicable to the COVID-19 pandemic to micro, mezzo, and macro systems
  • apply the information shared to your work with clients

Honoring Arab American Heritage Month

From the Office of Dean Heller

Dear Colleagues,

April is Arab American Heritage Month, an opportunity for the School of Social Work and the University to celebrate the cultures and achievements of Arab American communities. Nearly 4 million Arab Americans can trace their roots to 22 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. Despite a history of exclusion, today, Arab Americans reside in all 50 states, representing a wide range of faiths, races, and languages. In 2021, President Joe Biden officially recognized April as National Arab American Heritage Month.

Highlighting this occasion is part of the School of Social Work’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. We stand in staunch opposition to all forms of systemic racism, including policies and practices that oppress our Arab American neighbors. As a school community, we are called to promote teaching, scholarship, and community/professional action that reflects this commitment to justice. The Code of Ethics for our profession emphasizes the inherent dignity and worth of the person, and in that spirit, we will work to ensure a sense of belonging for Arab Americans throughout our school and campus community.

Please join me in commemorating Arab American Heritage Month! Learn more here.

In solidarity,

Nina Rovinelli Heller, PhD
Dean and Professor
Zachs Chair in Social Work

Surviving COVID Fatigue

Jennifer Berton, PhD, LICSW, CADC-II

Monday, March 14, 2022Register Now for CE programs now
10 am – 12 pm
2 CECs

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

When COVID initially arrived, clinicians jumped into crisis mode to help our clients manage the myriad issues that came with it. Two years later, the pandemic is still here and we are exhausted, frustrated and needing specific tools to help manage it all. This webinar will target the characteristics of COVID-specific Burnout and the needed tools to address it.

Lunar New Year

From the Office of Dean Heller

Dear Colleagues,

This month, we celebrate the Lunar New Year and the history, contributions, and achievements of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. The Lunar New Year has been observed for thousands of years and 2022 marks the Year of the Tiger. At the School of Social Work, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight the rich heritage and cultural experiences of our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander students and colleagues.

Supporting the Lunar New Year and its significance to Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities aligns with the mission of our profession and the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. These ethical standards include social justice, dignity and worth of the person, and the importance of human relationships. Highlighting this occasion also supports the School of Social Work’s strong commitment to anti-racism and inclusion.

We know that the last two years have been especially challenging for many in Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. We stand with these communities and believe they make UConn and the School of Social Work stronger.

We are excited to celebrate with our students and colleagues during the week-long Lunar New Year 2022 UConn events starting on February 13. Please join me in supporting these events and our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities.

In solidarity,

Nina Rovinelli Heller, PhD
Dean and Professor
Zachs Chair in Social Work

 

Celebrating Black History Month

From the Office of Dean Heller

Dear Colleagues,

As we begin the celebration of Black History Month, we are called to remember both its origins and its importance in our current contexts. As we are all aware, these last few years have been challenging ones for our Black and African American communities.

The story of Black History Month can be traced back to the beginning of the last century when Negro History Week was first recognized in 1926. Decades later, the event was expanded to a month as an annual celebration of Black history and the contributions of Black Americans to our nation’s cultural life.

Several years ago, a group of UConn SSW students, faculty and staff came together to form a Black History 365 committee with the goal of intentionally honoring and highlighting Black lives, contributions, and culture throughout the year. We’ve since offered a range of programs and events that explore Black history and current affairs and promote mental health and wellness among Black Americans. These programs have recently included a panel discussion on Black Lives Matter Facts vs. Myths and The Naked Truth: Death by Delivery discussion about black maternal health, among others.

This year, the committee was clear about focusing our February events to highlight cultural experiences. On February 8, we have partnered with UConn Hartford and UConn School of Law to highlight the experiences of the Black and African American communities through Black Joy, a celebration of self-love, health and wellness, pride, family, food and culture. Later in the month, our students will also host a cooking demonstration, Cooking with Chef Ross; please visit our website at ssw.uconn.edu for details.

All month long, I ask you to join me in celebrating the achievements and contributions of Black and African American communities to our history, society and culture. Black History Month also aligns with our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, as well as our goal to support and value the experiences of our Black students and colleagues.

In solidarity,

Nina Rovinelli Heller, PhD
Dean and Professor
Zachs Chair in Social Work

Confronting Fear and Anger

Jelan Agnew, LCSWRegister Now for CE programs now

Thursday, February 24, 2022
1 pm – 3 pm
2 CEC

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

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

Step away from trauma responses and move toward responses based on alignment. Transition from fight, flight, and freeze to acknowledge (observe and describe), surrender, and be. Participants will explore the function of anger and fear, and how to use the momentum of intense emotion to achieve goals. Trainer Jelan Agnew will use a trauma-informed and culturally competent lens, with a focus on mindfulness and guided meditation, to help clinicians and clients confront fear and anger.

Participants in this webinar will:

  • examine how we manage intense emotions and learn skills to increase our ability to manage our feelings
  • learn how trauma may play a role in the way we experience these emotions
  • learn how to use the concept of “Observe and Describe” – Where do I feel Fear in my body? Where do I feel Anger in my body?
  • use the “momentum of the emotion” to increase effectiveness in achieving goals

“Good Trouble” at School: A Call to Action for School Social Workers

Tanya Bulls, DSW, LCSWRegister Now for CE programs now
Christine Limone, PhD, LCSW

Monday, February 21, 2022
2 pm – 4 pm
2 CEC

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

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

School social workers don’t always receive discipline-specific clinical supervision in their school setting. The lack of supervision is inconsistent with known best practices of the social work profession. It is time for school social workers to examine the social conditions, policies, and practices within the school setting that contribute to this inequity and advocate for the specialized field of school social work with the same tenacity and persistence as civil rights leaders. This interactive webinar will explain how this came to be and the resulting consequences. In addition, Dr. Tanya Bulls and Dr. Christine Limone will provide tools to empower participants to advocate for change in their home districts.

This webinar is intended for experienced and new school social workers, principals, and building administrators. Upon completion, participants will:

  • understand this phenomenon and its impact on the field of school social work
  • engage in activities to practice how to get into “Good Trouble” for themselves and the students they serve
  • be empowered with tools to advocate for organizational change in their districts

Disordered Gambling

Thomas E. Broffman, PhD, LICSW, CAADAC, CCS, CEAP
Monday, January 31, 2022Register Now for CE programs now
10:00 am – 12:00 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 CT Council on Problem gambling estimates approximately 70,000 Connecticut adults meet the clinical criteria for problem gambling disorder. An additional 285,000 people are at risk of developing a problem in their lifetime. Problem gambling is often times under-assessed or a component of an undiagnosed co-occurring disorder. This webinar will examine why people gamble, the diagnostic criteria for disordered gambling, screening tools, and available Connecticut treatment resources.

This webinar will examine:

• what is gambling
• why do people gamble
• diagnostic criteria for disordered gambling
• screening tools for disordered gambling
• CT treatment resources

Happy Holidays from Dean Nina Heller

Dear Colleagues,

I hope this greeting and update finds you all well and healthy. It has certainly been a strange twenty months as we have had to find ways to adapt and develop new ways of relating, teaching, learning, and working. For some of you, things may feel a bit more “back to normal” and others may find that there are lessons learned through the pandemic that we can incorporate into our family and work lives.

Here, at the School of Social Work, we are nearing the end of the fall semester, with almost all our classes taught in person and with appropriate health measures. For most of our second year MSW students, this is the first time they have stepped foot on our campus, having taken the three prior semesters online. Our BSW and MSW students are back in their field settings and they and our partner agencies have certainly found this preferable to providing remote services. At the same time, we know that current and residual effects of the COVID pandemic have disproportionately affected many of the communities we serve. Where possible, we have placed more students in agencies who have expressed significant needs of their clients and opportunities for our students. As always, we are grateful to our community partners for their role in educating the next generation of social work practitioners.

Our faculty continue to engage our students in our classrooms and through advising and mentoring. They are also engaged in research and scholarship that explores pressing social issues such as substance abuse; food insecurity; juvenile justice; the isolation experienced by many older adults; health, educational, and economic disparities; and the effects of racism.

Of particular note, is the forthcoming book by two UConn professors, Dr, Ann Marie Garran, and Dr. Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, along with Dr. Hye-Kyung Kang and Dr. Josh Miller. Racism in America: Implications for the Helping Professions, 3rd Ed., to be released at the end of December, this book addresses historical, structural, theoretical, and interpersonal perspectives. This is the right moment for this book, and it provides a critical overview of contemporary issues around race, with a particular focus on the educational and professional needs of social workers and other related practitioners.

The SSW embarked on a Strategic Planning Process last spring, under the leadership of Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Joanne Corbin and Doctoral Program Director, Dr. Scott Harding. We will continue our work for the next several months with a completion date of mid-spring 2022. Our aim Is to produce a living document that emphasizes our strengths and guides us through investment in areas for development and expansion. Core to this plan is a focus upon multiple aspects of diversity, inclusion, and equity and the creation of an anti-racist culture at the school. Our ultimate goal is to promote a sense of belonging for all, while preparing to meet the multiple needs of the communities and profession we serve, through our teaching, scholarship and community engagement. Our focus upon emerging needs.

We always look forward to connecting with our alumni and hearing about all you are doing with your UConn SSW degree. Our students are eager to see what their degree can do for them and what they, in turn, can give back to the profession and people we serve.

Please come and visit, support our students through the UConn Foundation, check out our Continuing Education options – and have a healthy happy holiday season.

All the best,

Nina