Tuesday, April 26, 2016

THANK YOU!!!


            The BC Social Workers blog has reached an      
          unbelievable milestone of over 60 thousand hits! 

When I started the blog in October, 2012 it was my "love letter" to my profession of Social Work.

I did not know that the content would appeal to such a wide ranging audience, indeed people all over the world are visiting the blog.

Thank you to my readers for making this a worthwhile labour of love! I hope you will keep reading and that you will share this resource with others who might get something out of it!

All the best,

Tracey Young, BA, MSW, RSW

Editor and Publisher - BC Social Workers blog


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Clinical: Art therapy and the power of healing

Healing through art
Opportunities to heal from trauma offered at art therapy sessions

Sometimes it takes a blow torch to fix what's broken.

During the Women's Circle of Creativity, Healing and Art Therapy it could take putting a paint brush to canvass, a hack saw to a super hero doll or a blow torch to pretty much anything else to get to where a woman needs to be in her healing process.

The eight-week program of self-care, learning, sharing and ARTifying started Sunday at the University of Northern B.C. This will be the sixth session offered in partnership with the Northern Women's Centre.

There's no art background needed, just a willingness to explore a variety of art forms during the quest to heal the soul, purge the pain, and renew the spirit under the guidance of facilitator Si Transken, who has taught social work and gender studies for 16 years at UNBC, is a registered social worker and is now completing her training as an art therapist at the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute.

"One of the core things in social work is to never do harm," said Transken. "Never lead people anywhere they didn't want to go. So when people get to a certain point in art therapy it's not my burden to tell them where to go, it's my burden to ask them where they want to go - does it feel like red paint? Green paint? Do you want a hack saw? I have a torch. It's organic and I facilitate and nudge and encourage with what they've already said is their best direction. So I never, ever have to fear that someone is going to leave here feeling overwhelmed or over wrought."

Shelly LeBreton, a new social worker who works with the Northern Women's Centre, has taken the art therapy session with Transken twice so far.

"Your life changes with education and the power around it and understanding that the stuff that's out of your control - the system stuff that you don't have as much influence over - and putting your feelings about it there (on the canvass) really helped me step back from some of the agony I was in and during the whole art therapy process I didn't even know what I was creating in the moment I was creating it," said LeBreton. "In social work we always talk about having faith in the process because the end result will be true."

LeBreton said she has had great results from the art therapy.

"I have had therapeutic results, I have had self-care results and I have had just-playing-with-glitter results, too," said LeBreton, who is a victim of sexual violence. "I have walked in being a total mess and after the three hours walked away from it being OK. The freedom that comes at the end of it is amazing."

LeBreton said she learns from the other participants, too.

"I like hearing other people's stories because it normalizes mine," said LeBreton. "I also see how they cope and then I get to add to my tool kit of coping skills. The first time I experienced the art therapy one of the littlest things that made me feel the best was that I didn't have to set it up, tear it down or clean it up. I do all of that in so many other areas of my life it was just nice to come here relax and purge and when I left I just felt all that energy that you can take into your next place - sometimes that will last a few hours, sometimes that can last the whole week."

The session starts with participants coming together for an hour-long talk about how the week was, sharing goals, and what some of the past and present aspects are that need to be processed, changed or healed. This is done in a circle of chairs and blankets, cuddly stuffed animals and art on the walls.

"So it's very snuggly," said Transken. "Then after about an hour we go to the art room and make art and then we reconvene to talk for another half hour or an hour again."

Some issues that come up during the group sessions include things like loss and grief, marital issues, and trauma due to sexual violence.

During the sessions, participants are not asked for details when they share.

"So people will say 'I had a bad thing happen' and we discuss how they feel about the bad thing," said Transken. "'I feel sad, I feel lonely, I feel misunderstood and I feel lost,' is a response we get but they don't even have to ever say what it was or when it happened and if they choose not to say anything specific no one will know. So you can be in the circle and feel really safe."

But at the same time, it's a safe place to share it all, too, said Sarah Boyd of the Northern Women's Centre.

"If people do share that's OK, too," said Boyd, who has participated in the art therapy sessions. "It's all confidential and there's that space to bare our souls if we need it."

Nothing is ever the wrong thing to do during the sessions.

"Some people like to come here to play with glitter and sparkles and get away from their kids on a Sunday," said LeBreton. "Some people come for the therapeutic piece. I have engaged in all levels. I have found the therapy has been really great, you can purge, you can let go. Even start a piece and get half way through it and you realize you don't have to think about this no more and go and start another one. And in terms of the therapy, networking with a doctor - it doesn't get a lot better than that."

To make the Women's Circle of Creativity, Healing and Art Therapy accessible to everyone there are options for payment of the $200 fee. People who can pay the fee are welcome to do so to ensure the self-sustaining program continues. If a participant does not have the money there is an opportunity to volunteer at the Northern Women's Centre for 10 hours, doing tasks they are comfortable doing.

The Northern Women's Centre is always looking for donations of supplies, including traditional art supplies, broken toys, broken jewelry, broken mirrors, broken dishes, wall paper, old books, magazines, cards, small trinket boxes, shells, yarn, masks, dowling, wrapping paper, and anything else people would like to donate that can contribute to making unique art.

For further information call Boyd at 250-960-5632 or e-mail her at empower@unbc.ca.
© Copyright 2016 Prince George Citizen
Sometimes it takes a blow torch to fix what's broken.
During the Women's Circle of Creativity, Healing and Art Therapy it could take putting a paint brush to canvass, a hack saw to a super hero doll or a blow torch to pretty much anything else to get to where a woman needs to be in her healing process.
The eight-week program of self-care, learning, sharing and ARTifying started Sunday at the University of Northern B.C. This will be the sixth session offered in partnership with the Northern Women's Centre.
There's no art background needed, just a willingness to explore a variety of art forms during the quest to heal the soul, purge the pain, and renew the spirit under the guidance of facilitator Si Transken, who has taught social work and gender studies for 16 years at UNBC, is a registered social worker and is now completing her training as an art therapist at the Vancouver Art Therapy Institute.
"One of the core things in social work is to never do harm," said Transken. "Never lead people anywhere they didn't want to go. So when people get to a certain point in art therapy it's not my burden to tell them where to go, it's my burden to ask them where they want to go - does it feel like red paint? Green paint? Do you want a hack saw? I have a torch. It's organic and I facilitate and nudge and encourage with what they've already said is their best direction. So I never, ever have to fear that someone is going to leave here feeling overwhelmed or over wrought."
Shelly LeBreton, a new social worker who works with the Northern Women's Centre, has taken the art therapy session with Transken twice so far.
"Your life changes with education and the power around it and understanding that the stuff that's out of your control - the system stuff that you don't have as much influence over - and putting your feelings about it there (on the canvass) really helped me step back from some of the agony I was in and during the whole art therapy process I didn't even know what I was creating in the moment I was creating it," said LeBreton. "In social work we always talk about having faith in the process because the end result will be true."
LeBreton said she has had great results from the art therapy.
"I have had therapeutic results, I have had self-care results and I have had just-playing-with-glitter results, too," said LeBreton, who is a victim of sexual violence. "I have walked in being a total mess and after the three hours walked away from it being OK. The freedom that comes at the end of it is amazing."
LeBreton said she learns from the other participants, too.
"I like hearing other people's stories because it normalizes mine," said LeBreton. "I also see how they cope and then I get to add to my tool kit of coping skills. The first time I experienced the art therapy one of the littlest things that made me feel the best was that I didn't have to set it up, tear it down or clean it up. I do all of that in so many other areas of my life it was just nice to come here relax and purge and when I left I just felt all that energy that you can take into your next place - sometimes that will last a few hours, sometimes that can last the whole week."
The session starts with participants coming together for an hour-long talk about how the week was, sharing goals, and what some of the past and present aspects are that need to be processed, changed or healed. This is done in a circle of chairs and blankets, cuddly stuffed animals and art on the walls.
"So it's very snuggly," said Transken. "Then after about an hour we go to the art room and make art and then we reconvene to talk for another half hour or an hour again."
Some issues that come up during the group sessions include things like loss and grief, marital issues, and trauma due to sexual violence.
During the sessions, participants are not asked for details when they share.
"So people will say 'I had a bad thing happen' and we discuss how they feel about the bad thing," said Transken. "'I feel sad, I feel lonely, I feel misunderstood and I feel lost,' is a response we get but they don't even have to ever say what it was or when it happened and if they choose not to say anything specific no one will know. So you can be in the circle and feel really safe."
But at the same time, it's a safe place to share it all, too, said Sarah Boyd of the Northern Women's Centre.
"If people do share that's OK, too," said Boyd, who has participated in the art therapy sessions. "It's all confidential and there's that space to bare our souls if we need it."
Nothing is ever the wrong thing to do during the sessions.
"Some people like to come here to play with glitter and sparkles and get away from their kids on a Sunday," said LeBreton. "Some people come for the therapeutic piece. I have engaged in all levels. I have found the therapy has been really great, you can purge, you can let go. Even start a piece and get half way through it and you realize you don't have to think about this no more and go and start another one. And in terms of the therapy, networking with a doctor - it doesn't get a lot better than that."
To make the Women's Circle of Creativity, Healing and Art Therapy accessible to everyone there are options for payment of the $200 fee. People who can pay the fee are welcome to do so to ensure the self-sustaining program continues. If a participant does not have the money there is an opportunity to volunteer at the Northern Women's Centre for 10 hours, doing tasks they are comfortable doing.
The Northern Women's Centre is always looking for donations of supplies, including traditional art supplies, broken toys, broken jewelry, broken mirrors, broken dishes, wall paper, old books, magazines, cards, small trinket boxes, shells, yarn, masks, dowling, wrapping paper, and anything else people would like to donate that can contribute to making unique art.
For further information call Boyd at 250-960-5632 or e-mail her at empower@unbc.ca.
- See more at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local-news/healing-through-art-1.2234345#sthash.68wIsrLH.dpuf

Employment: MCFD Team Lead Integrated Services - Gibsons, BC

Ministry of Children and Family Development
Team Lead Integrated Services
Gibsons, BC

The Team Lead Integrated Services will have the authority, accountability, and responsibility to plan, develop, manage, coordinate and evaluate the delivery of services for children and families within a multi-disciplinary framework. The team delivers integrated services for various MCFD program areas. The Team Lead will be directly accountable and responsible for the quality of service to clients accessing their team, and for setting and monitoring standards of practice.

With broad responsibilities to work with diverse community partners, the Team Lead will provide direction, leadership and staff support, clinical support, as well as a broad range of staff training and development.
Candidates must either have, or be immediately eligible to attain full delegation (C6). Preference may be given to applicants with full (C6) delegation.

For more information and to apply by May 6th 2016, go to: https://search.employment.gov.bc.ca/cgi-bin/a/highlightjob.cgi?jobid=32774


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Clinical: Mindfulness in social work practice

Mindful social work: ‘I was really empathising, not just planning my well-versed response’

Learning to use mindfulness techniques is not easy, says Mia Holmes, but can really help with the emotional challenges and stresses of social work


Mia Holmes, social worker, West Berkshire

I’d heard of mindfulness of course. It was something that seemed to be quite fashionable but I didn’t really know what it was and how it could benefit me. I had attempted meditation before as part of practising yoga, but never made it past a couple of minutes until I got bored and distracted.

So when the public health team at the council offered mindfulness training to staff, I was intrigued and jumped at the chance to take the course.

During the first session, as we all sat in silence studying the intricate details of a raisin in the palm of our hands, I did wonder what on earth I was doing. I wasn’t sure if would manage the remaining seven sessions I had committed to.

However, once I had decided to stick with the programme, I slowly but surely began to feel the benefits of taking time to relax and consider things in a mindful way and am still feeling those benefits some months on as I continue to use the techniques when I can, in my work and outside of it.

Coping with the daily challenges


I really value tools that can help in how I react to the daily challenges of the job. The more I think about it, the more I believe that being a social worker requires a healthy mind to cope with what comes up when working with vulnerable people.

My role involves working with older people in hospital settings and in the community so it is often based around, or related to risk. Conversations with family members, health and other professionals are often about ‘worst-case scenarios’ and they divulge their fears about someone or something.

I am therefore constantly assessing risk and how to act on it, whilst dealing with and responding to a full range of human emotions.

I’m very aware that the decisions I take impact on people’s lives, but they also have to take into account considerations such as budgets and resources, legal frameworks, local policies and processes and professional codes of practice.

Similar challenges arise in all social work roles, so arming ourselves with the resilience that mindfulness teaches you to build is an incredibly helpful tool.

But it is a journey with its own challenges and some steep learning curves.

The eight-week course started by helping us to identify how we react to stressful situations. By focusing on the breath and by actively bringing attention, without judgment (as best you can!) to what is going on in your body and mind and your environment, you learn a lot about yourself.

It has taught me to look curiously at unpleasant or fearful feelings and welcome them instead of treating them as an unwanted guest.

Being kind to myself


For me, this had good and bad effects. The ‘bad’ was that I suddenly became very aware of aches and pains in my body, and of my own emotions that maybe weren’t always too positive.

But, on the upside, I learnt to be kind to myself during these times and accept that those were the emotions I was having at that point in time, which had a positive impact on the actions I took.

I particularly noticed this was when I was being shadowed by a colleague and had to explain our processes to her. This would normally make me nervous as I would be acutely aware that my team around me would be listening and may have different opinions on how we do things or the best way to explain it.

But I was more aware of the anxiety – the feeling in my stomach, my tendency to take shallow breaths, the tightness in my chest. And I was able to breathe through it all and therefore not be overwhelmed by it. I realised what was going on my own body and was able to carry on.

I have realised that the act of breathing, which we all take for granted, can be a powerful coping tool when done mindfully. Being kind to yourself gives a better perspective and makes scary situations manageable.

No end goal


I have somehow started (‘started’ being the word – mindfulness doesn’t have an end goal, it’s about personalised progression) to train my brain to be more focused. And this has benefited all aspects of my life.

This has made me a better communicator, benefiting me and those around me.

I practice mindfulness daily now. I’m still learning about how mindfulness can change the way I think but here’s one example from my work recently:

I was sitting with an elderly couple discussing their care at home for the wife when she left hospital. They had both been through a lot over the past few weeks. I felt my responses to them were more sincere than they would have been before.

I was really empathising, instead of planning my well-versed professional’s response. I was just reacting from the heart to what they were sharing with me and I felt that they had a more genuine interaction with me as a result.

It also reminded me that I love communicating with people and supporting them as best I can, which is why I do this job.

******************************
More on Mindfulness in Clinical practice:

Siegel, R. (2016). Therapy Combines the Scholarly with the Spiritual. Psychotherapy Networker. Retrieved from: https://www.psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/635/how-psychotherapy-embraced-the-mindfulness-movement?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=041616_pn_i_rt_WIR_sto830am


Professional Development: Expressive Play Therapy Certificate

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Employment: Ministry of Children and Family Development - various locations


Integrated Team Leader, Resources
Terrace

As Team Leader, you will function as the senior resource leader, providing direction, leadership and supervision to staff. 

An experienced professional and effective communicator, your role encompasses working with service providers, contracted agencies and MCFD staff to facilitate placement of children; promoting public awareness through written materials and public presentations; and supervising six full-time staff (some of the staff cover the West Kootenay area). 

An exemplary leader, you focus on staff development, collaborative practice and developing community partnerships.


Social Program Officer - Child Protection Worker (Growth)

Multiple positions in BC

As a Child Protection Worker, through assessment and collaboration, you develop plans with families to ensure the safety of children and youth. Your skill set will include interviewing clients, evaluating vulnerability factors, investigating child welfare reports and determining a plan of action for your clients including family support services.

Employment: Case Social Worker - Squamish Nation

Squamish Nation

Case Social Worker – Ayas Men Men Child & Family Services

North Vancouver

This is a full time delegated position where you will act on behalf of the Superintendent of Child & Family Services Department as the delegated legal guardian of Squamish children who have been taken into care. 

You will investigate MCFD Child Protection cases, make referrals, support caregivers and institutions, and advocate for the families of children in care.

Requirements for this position include: MSW or BSW; registration with the BC College of Social Workers (or willingness to obtain registration within a set time frame); experience working with Squamish Nation culture and First Nation child welfare. A BC Driver’s License and a reliable vehicle is essential.