We’re back….well, almost. For our first September 2017 Twitter Chat, we will be talking about how to be Media Savvy Social Workers. There are many areas that the Social Work Grand Challenges address. We have countless social workers in the field who know so much about each of those topics. This chat will address how […]
There's a lot of work to do. If you are a social worker, staying neutral on the subject of institutional racism is not an option. It's part of who we are.
Today, it's August 13, 2017, and we've witnessed a horrifying event in Charlottesville. It's disgusting and completely predictable. Let's first stand up and show we are part of the solution.
Rachel West, a partner in #MacroSW, has created a crowdsource document that helps locate events where we can demonstrate our solidarity with those who are standing up for basic human decency. (You know, anti-white supremacists. Anti-white nationalists. Nazis.)
Here's the document:
Once again, we reach that time of year when #MacroSW will go on vacation for the month of August. Come prepared to share your favorite summer self-care, including books you have tucked away in your beach bag or on your tablet, favorite summer recipes or treats, music or video playlists, and travel or staycation plans. […]
I’m looking forward to this chat, possibly because it reminds me I’ll be taking a few days off at the beginning of August.
Have you heard? The technology standards have been updated. This will be the focus for this week’s #MacroSW Chat.
From the MacroSW blog:
Technology is no longer an optional part of social work practice. Videoconferencing, online social networking, social robots, digital documentation and storage, texting, mobile apps, and other forms of technology are used in many realms of social work practice. The recently published Standards for Technology in Social Work Practice offers a roadmap to think critically about […]
An internet that’s managed and manipulated by for-profit interests may sound like the reality we live in, but it’s not. Yes, when you access broadband service, you (or your institution or employer) are paying a fee. But the important feature we take for granted is this pipeline is more or less the same wherever we go.
I won’t use this space to tackle the numerous concerns we already struggle with (lack of consumer choice to access the web, even more limited access in rural areas, the fact that the United States is, compared to the rest of the world, suffering from slower bandwidth). What’s at stake is the basic ability to access the web without a myriad of commercial interests gouging you as a consumer. Worse, grassroots organizations, which rely on an open web to get their message out, could very well experience suppression if net neutrality is no longer the standard line.
You can take action: contact your state representatives and demand support for Net Neutrality.
This week’s MacroSW blog:
“The 2016 presidential election left many social workers wondering about the future of the profession and what Donald Trump’s victory would mean for social workers and the populations they serve. Now, more than eight months later, we’d like to hear about what you’ve been doing since the election.
Join us on Thursday, July 13, at 9 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Pacific) for the #MacroSW chat co-hosted with Social Work Today (@SocialWorkToday). We’ll explore social work in a post-election nation, share ideas about how to get/stay involved in advocacy and discuss ways social workers can help heal the deep divisions exposed by the election.”
Head over to the MacroSW blog for all the information, as well as how to join the Twitter chat.
I’m finally starting this new blogging project, where I occasionally comment on popular podcasts, with a social work POV. This first one is…not exactly timely. “Missing Richard Simmons”, finished its short run months ago. I drafted this in April and I promised myself I’d get this out sometime in the summer. So, here it is.
Richard Simmons wasn’t a therapist, but part of his persona included reaching into peoples’ lives, rather than just simply reaching out. The hit podcast may seem invasive, but I appreciate the reasons for making it, and from a practice perspective, its creator has a point.
I listened to all of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast a couple of weeks ago. I confess I added the podcast to my queue out of morbid curiosity. The premise had less-than-defensible overtones: Simmons, a well-known health guru and public figure (at least to people in their 40s and older), a person who appeared to thrive on public attention, decided to retire from view. Abruptly. Or (this is where the speculation starts) maybe he didn’t make that decision on his own. The media concern for his well-being suggested a story with a low factual threshold: that Simmons was taken out of the public eye by force and exploited for his wealth…or, maybe, something along those lines. It’s a mystery! Simmons eventually made a public statement last year, assuring us he’s fine.
The six-episode podcast series was created, written and hosted by Dan Taberski, who worked for the Daily Show and was a member of Simmons workout studio in Los Angeles. He created the show because he saw Simmons as a positive force, and his retirement seemed too abrupt, just simply too unlike the Richard Simmons he came to know, to be understandable without at least some explanation.
A little personal disclosure: I’m old enough to remember the home exercise craze of the late 1970s and 1980s. Our early-adopter family had a VCR in 1981, and I recall my mother recording The Richard Simmons Show. I was only 10 years old when this show was on the air, but even then, it was clear to me that Simmons was more than a host: this man was clearly motivated by his mission. His motivation to help people improve their lives seemed authentic. For Simmons, this meant weight loss. In the show’s opening credits of his talk show, you see Simmons’ personalized license plate, and as a mission statement, it’s all you need to know: YRUFATT.
Until 2013, Simmons stuck with this mission. Depending on where you start the clock, that’s about four decades. That early show is long gone, but the books, the home videos, the guest appearances, and the workout studio lived on. He’s been there for his fans, particularly people who truly need him to be the force in their lives. Missing Richard Simmons includes an amazing example of how real this relationship with the public manifested: Simmons encountered a woman in Iowa, working at the factory that produced the cookies Simmons was branding. She expressed her need to lose weight. Simmons didn’t just have a single, life-changing conversation with her. He maintained a relationship over time, by phone, for years.
Consider the expectations for a formal helping relationship, and Taberski doesn’t seem the one actively crossing boundaries; in the parallel context of social work practice, he fits the role of client. When Simmons all but disappeared, after failing to showing up to his workout studio one day for a scheduled class, Taberski (and, by extension, anyone who saw Simmons as a leader or a mentor) was concerned, confused, and, understandably, hurt.
Now, of course, let me observe the big caveat with this analogy: Simmons is not a licensed therapist. He’s a public figure, and while he has sought to help people, he was never in a legal contract, nor was he professionally obligated by any Code of Ethics to end relationships in a way that provides people with a sense of closure and understanding of what to expect in the future. That said, throughout his public presence, Simmons built a brand on emotional human connection. The example in Iowa is one case. For Simmons, his professional brand included not just his guest appearances on late night television talk shows, but his willingness to really connect with people over time. When you are calling someone on the phone to extend support to that person, expectations are going to develop.
The NASW Code of Ethics does have language regarding the termination of services (1.16, b): Social workers should take reasonable steps to avoid abandoning clients who are still in need of services. This section of the code states that, should termination be deemed necessary, social workers should be aware of all the possible factors to minimize negative impact on clients, including assisting in making appropriate arrangements.
Again, this is not something Simmons was bound to do. And, quite frankly, we don’t know what led to his decision to withdraw. That speculation is what led Taberski to create the podcast.
What Missing Richard Simmons does demonstrate is the impact ending a helping relationship precipitously has on those being helped. For those of us in social work, it’s worth noting how much power we have when we extend a hand to those who need it, and how we set expectations for when, inevitably, we need take that hand back.
Code of Ethics related to this post:
1.01 Commitment to Clients
1.16 Termination of Services
Missing Richard Simmons home page: https://www.missingrichardsimmons.com/
NASW Code of Ethics: http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/Code/code.asp
This week’s #MacroSW blog will take place on Thursday, 9/8 Central, on Twitter. The discussion will focus on the lack of support for disabled students’ rights on campus, despite the language in the ADA and Section 504.
From the blog post this week:
“As we prepare to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the ADA on July 26th, and the start of the 2017-2018 academic year in a few weeks, it is fitting for students, professors, and social workers to understand the barriers disabled students on campuses experience, and how to advocate for their rights. “
Read the full post over on the MacroSW blog. You’ll find possible discussion questions and further reading. If you’d like to join the chat but aren’t sure where to begin, be sure to check out the FAQ.
If you’re interested in how social workers engage with technology, you’re probably aware that the practice standards on this subject needed some updating. The previous statement from NASW was published in 2005. This week, the official update was released. Find a comfortable chair, block off some time, and read them here. For what it’s worth, I’ll provide a few thoughts in this space shortly.
National Association of Social Workers (2017). NASW, ASWB, CSWE, & CSWA standards for technology in social work practice. Washington, D.C.
Join the #MaroSW chat this Thursday! We’ll be discussing Toxic Inequality. MacroSW Partner Karen Zgoda will be hosting Dr. Thomas Shapiro. Read about the chat here.