At Elizabeth Ann Smith LCSW, ACSW in Scottsdale, AZ, our psychotherapist has submitted a number of articles to various publications regarding her experience in the field. Browse through our research below and learn more about practical advice to help in various situations. Contact us today to schedule your appointment with our skilled psychotherapist.
Social workers can use online comments, social media to make impact, Social Work Pulse, 2014
Elizabeth Smith LCSW, ACSW
The New York Times on August 15, 2014 featured an editorial piece called To Know Suicide: Depression can be treated but it takes a competent psychotherapist that came amid the heavy media coverage of the suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams.
I was very moved by this piece by a well-known psychiatrist who is herself bipolar and works at John Hopkins Hospital. So I decided to write an online comment based on my current job as a private practice social worker and psychotherapist in Scottsdale, AZ.
My comment expressed my view that not enough of my clients go to psychiatrists for medication but instead visit family doctors who may not be trained in medical options. I think family members should also be told what to expect and how to help their loved ones.
My comment was just one of about 200. So I was surprised it garnered the reaction it did. Several weeks later a flurry of doctors from Northern California retweeted the piece and comments that I retweeted to my twitter account. Stanford University 25, a medical school website and two medical professionals are following me and the article was favorited by another doctor website as well.
The intention I had to respond to this and retweet it to my twitter account showed me (after doing this with other articles from the New York Times for my clients to have access to for years) that using social media can be another way to influence others and make a big difference in the mental health, health care and other fields.
I have long had an interest in writing going back to the 1990’s when the idea of combining journalism and social work. In 1995 an editor of a newspaper in Manassas, Va. liked the idea and worked with me to write an opinion piece about the recession. It was called Nouveau Poor. Another newspaper in the area liked the idea and did a similar article, the editor at the Manassas paper told me.
I later sent an editorial to the Washington Post opinion section about a social worker’s view of how middle class people were going to food pantries and getting welfare and how we should all be concerned . The Washington Post assistant editor liked it and tried me out for several opinion articles.
I encourage other social workers to write and show our experiences on the front line of pressing social issues of the day. We have much to offer in terms of expressing our opinions on so many avenues that often are in the news.
Letters to the editor are another way to make a difference and get out opinions and influence out there. Social workers can comment on a variety of issues, including violence in schools, medical or psychological issues and current events. Letters to the editor are another way to make a difference and get our opinions and influence out there. Social media now offers many other creative ways like never before.
Nouveau Poor, The Prince William Journal, 1993
Donna Noble wanted to scream to everybody at the mall the other week “Wake up”, “Do you know what is happening out there?”, “You are not safe either.”
Noble is a research analyst at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service in Manassas, an agency that has seen an enormous increase since summer 1990 in telephone calls from people fearful of losing their homes.
She and the agency’s manager, Vicky Dineen are among a growing number of social workers who like myself are shocked and scared by the kinds of urgent changes and problems they are seeing in their clientele.
The clients they normally serve are poor people and construction workers who come in seasonally for food stamps.
But now a new group defined by social workers as the “nouveau poor” have arrived on the scene with a lot of questions and expectations about the social system they have paid taxes into for years.
“These people have always worked and want to work but have been laid off,” said Thomas Meager director or the Prince William County Social Services.
Because of the change in clientele, case workers are struggling to keep up with the increasing caseloads while at the same time being called on to serve clients in a much more complex way on many different levels.
For example, while we are hesitant to use the words social work, the person asking for some assistance or financial assistance obviously has other problems. We are still a society that sees a person’s worth and status by home ownership, Dineen said “These people are often harshly judged and treated by those that blame them for losing their jobs.”
A client’s problems may also be compounded by the fact that we are a society that adheres to a strong Protestant puritanical work ethic and sees these people as needing to pick themselves up and go get another job.
Dineen said she thinks it is underestimated as to the long term effects this has on a person’s life.
In interviews I had recently with several social workers, directors, shelter workers and administrators the refrain was the same, a resounding fear for the middle class people who are not commonly known to these places as well as shock at how close to home the situation is to them.
We, in the field while discussing our suffering clients at times, appear to be in a state of distress and crisis ourselves as if witnessing something that not everybody knows about or as if our own fears about our own jobs are being realized.
Some said even if the economy did change soon, that it will take years to recover for many of the clients. In light of this of the many changes that are occurring, it may be a good time to look at the social welfare system and respond to the gaps in that are being unveiled.
It is, after all, people who are being affected.
Increased Childhood Stress, American Counselor of the American Counseling Association, 1993
Elizabeth A. Smith
I had an experience a few years ago while living in Arizona that I would like to draw attention to. I met two girls selling candy for their school business program to increase self-confidence by personally speaking to people.
The girls, age 11, were from different cultural backgrounds. One was Spanish and the other Native American Indian. They said they enjoyed learning about each other’s background. One girl opened up and was very candid indicating she lacked anxiety about trusting me with the details of her life. She told me of her stress, of working at home after school with her older brother help because her mother worked several jobs. Her parents were divorced, and she said. “It was heartbreak.” I suggested she not blame herself for the stress in the house or her parent’s divorce. She tried to tell me differently.
She mentioned that she dreams in Indian symbols. I suggested she speak to her grandfather, a chief on the reservation, about their meaning. This would be a good way to learn about her heritage, as well as support a relationship with a significant and valued family member.
I bring this to the attention of social workers , therapists, and other people in the helping professions because it is becoming increasingly common that children in this country are undergoing additional stress today when their parents are divorced, their mothers are working., and they must do much additional work at home as well as go to school.
I think it is important to recognize ways to nurture them, bring in additional support from outside family members, and reconnect them, as much as possible, with available adults. This increases not only the children self-worth but also their sense of importance and self-esteem, and adds to their ability to survive healthily.
Counselors today must be open to seeing children’s needs as vital in the midst of the changes that are place in their homes. It is important to be as creative as possible in helping them get the proper audience, support, and nurturing that’s needed.