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    Using Twitter as a Comment Box: Week One Wrap #SWHelper Twitter Study

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    Does anyone remember the wooden comment boxes positioned conspicuously at places of business? Customers would use these comment cards to either praise or complain about their service interaction. The majority of the time, consumers would not have any idea if there was any action taken on behalf of the business as a result of their comment card.

    Some consumers who felt strongly about their service interactions would follow-up with corporate headquarters via snail mail or email. However, the response time for feedback could easily take months to reach the consumer. Week One of the #SWhelper Twitter study looked at using Twitter as a comment box in the scope of social work policy and practice.

    suggestionboxWhen you think about it, how often do you see comment boxes in today’s society? They are rare if not extinct because corporations have learned to respond fairly quickly to consumer likes as well as their dislikes to prevent small issues from trending on various social media outlets.

    Businesses have learned to harness the power of social media not only as a marketing tool but as a way to provide customer service and improve public relations. In the scope of nonprofits, social policy and practice, these entities have not spent an equal focus on the power of social media from institution to consumer (B2C) or from an institution to institution (B2B) perspective.

    In my opinion, it appears most of these institutions tend to view social media as a digital bulletin board with little to no engagement. However, it must not be forgotten that aspiring students, currently enrolled students, and practitioners are consumers, and associations, academic institutions, continuing education organizations are the institutions of services when we look to measure and analyze interactions through social media engagement. It is also must be acknowledged by the nonprofit and public sector that consumers of services can still become brand advocates or brand haters which can affect funding and outcomes.

    Marketing departments in these institutions are acutely aware of the necessity for social media interaction from a marketing perspective in order to promote their respective programs to increase enrollment or drive fundraising goals. Corporations have learned the hard way not to ignore dissatisfied consumers’ social media mentions as it can correlate to declining profits and create a public relations crisis. Can this same dynamic correlate to decreased social work enrollment or influence policy decisions?

    Week One: Evaluation of an Emerging Issue

    On March 11, 2014, I saw an awesome tweet about free #socialworker T-Shirts being given away at the SXSW 2014 Interactive Tech Conference in Austin, Texas. The same day, I sent a tweet to them expressing concerns once I realized it was social marketing firm using the #socialworker hashtag, and I received a response from them a few hours later.

    “Hiplogiq, the Parent company for Social Compass, developed a marketing campaign using the hashtag #socialworker to attract industry leaders to their booth. They also provided free #socialworker T-shirts to visitors, and it appeared to have been a huge success. The company tweeted out pictures of the Hootsuite and PepsiCoJobs Teams taking pictures with their #SocialWorker T-Shirts. My first reaction was how awesome for Social Workers to get some publicity at a major Tech Conference. Then, it dawned on me that this company has successfully branded #SocialWorker as a marketing campaign for their social marketers.”

    Ultimately, Social Compass agreed to participate in our live #SWHelper tweet chat on March 16th as a way of engaging the social work community and identifying concerns within the community. Not only did they agree to participate, the Co-Founder of the parent company, Hiplogiq, felt it was important enough to engage us directly and not designate an appointee.

    Methodology

    There appears to be some confusion on the measuring metrics of social media as well as how it translates into the social sciences. Until recently, likes, shares, retweets, follows, and faves in the context of Facebook and twitter respectively were seen as the primary metrics for measuring engagement.  However, when businesses designed campaigns and developed products based solely on those metrics, they begin to realize this data may not be aligned with the general populace. Due to social platforms, such as Facebook limiting organic reach in an effort to sell ads or obtain pay for promotion, this data alone does not provide access to accurate organic traffic and spontaneous feedback when needed.

    On the other hand, the duality of Twitter in both its simplicity and complexity is what makes this tool a researcher’s dream. Although Twitter has incorporated a pay for promotion within their structure, it has not instituted any barriers limiting users reach or potential reach. Twitter has very few rules without any limitations on who you connect with or who you can tweet. Just this past week, I was contacted by OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, because they liked one of my tweets during #Lifeclass social lab.

    For the purpose of Week One’s Twitter study, I wanted to use the live twitter chat as the format for engaging the social work community to gain organic feedback and insight on the use of the #socialworker hashtag by the Social Compass software company. For quantitative data, I asked questions then provide responses to participants to RT the response best in line with their perspective. As qualitative data, I asked participants to comment on each question like an open-ended question in order to gather responses. Then, there is the organic retweets and faves of commentary made during the chat. In the detailed study, I will be looking at other variables such as reach, influence, and potential reach.

    Best Tweets of the Week

    Takeaways

    Challenges, Barriers, and Limitation

    Within the confines of the study, participants who had not read the article on the subject matter had difficulty contributing as a spontaneous participant who happens to see tweets from the chat in their timeline. Additionally, participants who are not familiar with the construct of social media may base their assumptions and expectations on real-world ideology and not within the confines of the virtual space.

    If social marketers want to hold live twitter chats using the hashtag #socialworker, does title protection laws legislate the virtual space? Also, is there a need for social workers to understand how marketing works in the virtual space in order to elevate awareness and market the profession? Essentially, Twitter is like the Wild West where people race to stake their claim on a piece of land. In the present case, hashtags are the real estate and the individual/entity with the most successful social media campaign viewed by users…Win.

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    Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    Education

    How Social Workers Can Practice Trauma-Informed Care

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    Sponsored Article by Adelphi University

    Over the past few decades, there has been increasing recognition of the widespread and profound impact of trauma on individuals and communities. The results of an international mental health survey suggest that traumatic events have affected over 70 percent of the population, and can lead to prolonged physical and psychological harm.

    These findings have transformed the field of social work, shifting the focus of education and training onto practices that recognize, support, and empower survivors of trauma. Referred to as “trauma-informed care,” this framework is especially important for social work professionals who have a high likelihood of encountering people with a history of trauma in practice settings.

    Expanding the Definition of Trauma

    Trauma-informed care starts with an understanding of the intricacies of trauma, and how it impacts individuals and communities. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”

    For most people, the concept of trauma conjures up images of soldiers who have survived violent combat. Others may think about people who have been exposed to physical abuse, sexual assault or natural disasters. While these are some of the most distressing experiences that an individual can endure, trauma isn’t defined by an extreme event—it’s what the event means to the individual.

    Trauma-informed social workers must take the time to understand a person’s unique perception and response to an event, taking into account the complex layers of identity, power, and oppression that contribute to trauma. Adopting this framework, researchers have expanded the definition of trauma to include the following categories:

    • Complex trauma: The result of being exposed to repeated, ongoing, or simultaneous traumatic events, such as chronic neglect from a caregiver or long-term exposure to war conflict.
    • Intergenerational trauma: This type of trauma is passed from those who directly experience trauma onto subsequent generations.
    • Historical trauma: A type of intergenerational trauma that is experienced by specific racial, ethnic or cultural groups that accumulates across generations. Some experiences most commonly associated with historical trauma include the colonization and forced migration of Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans.
    • Institutional trauma: This is a type of trauma that occurs when institutions take actions that worsen the impact of traumatic experiences; for example, when a university covers up a sexual assault violation.
    • Secondary trauma: Many helping professionals experience this type of indirect trauma, through hearing or witnessing the aftermath of a traumatic event experienced by a survivor. In addition to expanding the definition of trauma, the social work field has begun to outline some essential components of trauma-informed care.

    Promoting a Sense of Safety

    Trauma-informed social workers recognize that clients may have a history of trauma and prioritize creating an environment that feels physically and psychologically safe. Physical safety can be ensured by keeping areas well lit, monitoring who is entering and exiting the building and providing clear access to exits. Psychological safety involves a client’s feelings of trust in their relationship with the social worker, and can be ensured by modeling respect, consistency, acceptance and transparency.

    Acknowledging and Reinforcing Patients’ Strengths

    Many social service and healthcare professionals focus on diagnoses and interventions, framing symptoms as problems or weaknesses. Trauma-informed social workers, on the other hand, recognize that these symptoms are coping strategies in response to trauma. These practitioners highlight resilience and acknowledge strengths, cultivating hope for recovery and change.

    Creating Opportunities for Choice

    Trauma survivors often feel a sense of powerlessness, resulting from a loss of control and predictability in their experience of trauma. Trauma-informed social workers attempt to return the client’s sense of control by offering them choices and actively involving them in goal-setting and decision-making. As clients practice making decisions in the social work setting, they develop coping strategies and self-advocacy skills that support their functioning in the outside world.

    Applying Your Knowledge

    To maximize your impact as a social work professional, you need an extensive understanding of the latest theoretical perspectives, including trauma-informed care. An online master of social work program can help you acquire the conceptual knowledge and hands-on field instruction that you can apply to improve clients’ lives and achieve your professional objectives.

    The Adelphi University Online Master of Social Work program brings decades of expertise and a legacy as a leading social work school to a flexible curriculum designed for working professionals. As a graduate student in the program, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with faculty members at the forefront of research on trauma-informed practices. Our graduates complete the program prepared to become Licensed Master Social Workers and fill the need for a skilled trauma workforce.

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    Justice

    In A New World, Social Work Leads the Way

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    This is a sponsored article by California State University at Northridge

    How Cal State Northridge is doing its part.

    The pandemic, if nothing else, exacerbated the unequal distribution of resources in society. For millions of people, access to food, shelter, and health care is now more uncertain than ever.

    What’s emerging is a new, somewhat dire need for experienced social workers – professionals able to compassionately address a disparate and evolving set of issues. Not only here in Los Angeles, but all over the world.

    For much of the pandemic, the field has championed relief efforts, such as the rent moratorium. This provided a necessary, if temporary, reprieve from the daily fear of eviction. Outside of California, however, this moratorium is over. As are federal unemployment benefits.

    And the impact is tragically visible. In California alone, the homeless population is over 151,000, with 41,000 of that in Los Angeles. And that’s just according to official estimates. The true number, allege some experts, may be much higher.

    This is the sad, beautiful truth of social work. No matter where a client is, whether it’s in the classroom, at home, or on the streets, the field will be there.

    But the field itself is evolving, too.

    Following the death of George Floyd, social workers are increasingly involved in policing, augmenting first responders with a new option: one aiming to mitigate crisis and, as importantly, prevent the use of force.

    As cities and states consider policing alternatives, social workers can help to ensure each community’s voice is heard, especially communities of color. Gaining popularity, the idea is to offer a more compassionate approach to law enforcement. Rather than responding with aggression, an arriving unit could instead respond with care, assessing the situation from a mental health standpoint, not one of criminality.

    Likewise, opportunity youth – sometimes referred to as “at-risk” – now face many new challenges (among them, a skills gap from a year of remote learning). On top of food scarcity and uncertain housing, there’s also the real risk of contracting COVID. And for these youth, who often lack access to health care, this can be especially dangerous.

    In all these cases, a humane approach is needed. Many social work programs incorporate hands-on experience, giving students access to the communities they’ll serve. One such program is the Master of Social Work (MSW) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

    Unlike many social work programs, CSUN’s MSW expands participants’ career possibilities by offering a generalist approach. This enables graduates to work at ALL levels of the field: individual/family (micro); group/community (mezzo); and societal/policy (macro).

    The program is offered fully online in two- and three-year formats. The two-year option is a full-time program with an intensive curriculum designed to help students complete their degrees and enter the field in as little time as possible. The three-year option, on the other hand, is an excellent choice for those who would prefer the same curriculum at a less intensive pace.

    The master’s degree, which is often ranked among the best in the country, promotes the well-being of urban communities. Through its curriculum, participants learn how to assess a community’s needs from the inside, in large part through active listening.

    As the field continues to evolve, those who comprise it must evolve too. That begins with knowledge of the new world, but ends, as it always has, with the people who need us most – the ones for whom we care.

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    Culture

    What “Bachelor in Paradise” Can Teach us About Empowering the Disability Community

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    Are you a fan of “Bachelor in Paradise?” Whether you realize it or not, this season of the “Bachelor” franchise spinoff took on the topic of disability empowerment. Which is not exactly an expected topic for mainstream television. For years, the “Bachelor” series has been criticized for featuring primarily White contestants, and has worked to diversify the races and ethnicities of the people they draw on the show. But what about people from the disability community or people who identify as Deaf or hard-of-hearing?

    Being disabled or Deaf or hard of hearing are also social identities in American culture – identities that should not be overlooked in the show’s representation. These communities represent what some refer to as the largest minority community in the United States at 26 percent of the U.S. population according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the following, we’ll discuss more about why this year’s “Bachelor in Paradise” was so significant and what that may mean for social workers.

    Introducing Abigail

    A few years ago, we did have Sarah Herron on the show, a woman with a physical disability, although her presence was short-lived. But this season, the very first person down the stairs to the Mexican beachfront hacienda was Abigail Heringer, a 26 year-old woman who identifies as Deaf due to congenital hearing loss from birth. She received cochlear implants at the age of two but does consider herself disabled due to her hearing impairment and loss. Abigail was a central figure in this summer’s Bachelor in Paradise due to her romance with Noah Erb.

    It was refreshing to see a disabled person in a romantic relationship given the history our culture has of thinking that disabled folks are asexual, incapable of having sex or in need of being protected from any kind of sexual contact. Abigail and Noah’s relationship has played out on television screens across Bachelor Nation – from their devastating breakup at the show’s conclusion to their rekindled romance announced subtly on social media later. This demonstrates that members of the disability community have relationships too, and that this is 100% normative behavior, with breakups, glitches, awkwardness, kissing and all!

    The Dignity of Risk

    So how does this relate to social work practice? One of the central tenets of good disability social work is how we need to honor the concept of the dignity of risk. This is the idea that everyone can learn from everyday risks. Central to honoring the dignity of risk is respecting an individual’s autonomy and self-determination to make choices. Also important, is the right for our clients to make choices even if social workers or other professionals in the person’s life feel that they could endanger the decision-maker in question. In order to respect a person’s dignity of risk, one should provide intermittent support even if others do not approve of the choice.

    As there is inherent dignity in the experience of everyday risk, this concept suggests that limiting a disabled person’s ability to make even a risky choice, or limiting their access to the learning that comes along with a potentially emotionally painful risk, such as dating, does not foster overall wellness in the long run. Abigail, from this year’s “Bachelor in Paradise” is a wonderful example of the kind of empowerment needed, rather than sheltering one from risks in life.

    Robert Perske famously wrote:

    “Overprotection may appear on the surface to be kind, but it can be really evil. An oversupply can smother people emotionally, squeeze the life out of their hopes and expectations, and strip them of their dignity. Overprotection can keep people from becoming all they could become…”

    Arguably, the dignity of risk may be among the most challenging tenets for social workers to embrace in their practice, but it is vital to accept given its intersection with self-determination. The dignity of risk also involves learning about the part of life that involves sexual and romantic relationships. Social workers need to remember to talk to their clients about sexuality in a developmentally appropriate manner. It is important not to cut off conversations about this topic, or to skirt the subject when it comes up. We must also support our clients in exploring how to engage in healthy relationships when they have the opportunities to be in them.

    It’s wonderful that Abigail Heringer can be a model in reminding us of this important lesson for empowerment-oriented disability social work. One that embraces the dignity of risk for those who wish to date! With that being said, here’s to Noah and Abigail’s relationship!

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