US Perception of the Gender Pay Gap in 2021

While there’s a discussion about how wide the gender pay gap currently is, there’s no doubt that it persists in 2021 and more significantly impact women of color. As a society, we still have a long way to go to close the gender pay gap, but knowing how to solve this ongoing problem is more complicated.

According to the most recent survey data from Payscale, in 2021 women still make just $0.82 cents for every dollar men make, meaning the gender pay gap is 18%. More specifically, this figure represents the opportunity pay gap which measures the ratio of women’s to men’s median wages.

How is the gender pay gap perceived?

To gain a clearer understanding of how the pay gap is perceived by Americans today, Resume Genius conducted a 500+-person survey. The survey aimed to uncover views on the gender pay gap, including how it compares to the racial pay gap, whether it’s been affected by COVID-19, attitudes about ways to help encourage equitable pay as well as the future of the pay gap.

In relation to the racial pay gap

When asked whether the gender pay gap or the racial pay gap poses a bigger problem in the United States, 52% of respondents agreed that both are a problem, while 28% said that neither is a problem.

Of the remaining 20% who indicated that one is a bigger problem than the other, 12% chose the gender pay gap and 8% chose the racial pay gap.

Between male and female respondents, women were 6% more likely than men to say that both the gender and racial pay gaps are a problem, while men were slightly more likely to say that neither is a problem.

These results are consistent with Payscale’s findings that while men of color tend to earn less than their white male counterparts, men within each racial group still earn more than the women within the same racial group.

While the racial pay gap is significant, it’s even wider for women of color, with Native American and Hispanic women suffering the largest pay gap.

In relation to COVID-19

When asked whether the economic impact of COVID-19 has contributed to a widening in the gender pay gap, roughly a third of respondents said yes, while the other two-thirds didn’t think it played a significant role.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the gender wage gap actually appears to have fallen by 0.7% during COVID-19.

However, this result is deceptive because it reflects the large number of low-wage earning women who dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic, rather than an overall increase in earned wages. Women of color have been the most severely affected, with disproportionately high numbers of unemployment.

While the current perception seems to be mostly that the pandemic hasn’t had a significant impact on the gender wage gap, it could take years to determine the real effects of COVID-19 on women’s wages. Many women have had to prioritize family and child care in the last couple of years, often at the expense of career growth.

What we do know is that employees who leave the workforce for a year or longer make 39% less than their peers who remain at their jobs, and since women are more likely to minimize hours or quit their jobs to take on household responsibilities, they’re also more likely to earn less than their male colleagues in the future.

What can we do to shrink the gender pay gap?

With nearly three-quarters of respondents in agreement that there is a pay gap problem, it’s clear that we need to find ways to close the gap. Two possibilities for improving equitable pay practices include fostering greater transparency around company pay practice and policy and encouraging women to seek the compensation they deserve by asking for raises and promotions.

Get comfortable with asking for a raise

Asking for a raise is common practice in the workplace and can be an important step toward building a successful career. However, men and women don’t receive equal treatment when it comes to receiving raises, whether due to bias, the motherhood penalty, or the “ask gap”.

When asked whether they feel comfortable asking for a raise, 56% of all respondents said they feel comfortable, while 44% said they feel uncomfortable. More than half of female participants responded that asking for a raise makes them uncomfortable, compared to one-third of male participants.

According to an Indeed survey, women have grown even more uncomfortable with asking for a raise during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to an increase in pay inequity which will likely become apparent in the coming years.

Discuss your salary among peers

Disclosing salaries without fear of being penalized can contribute to a more open and equitable workplace.

Unfortunately, in American work culture, it’s long been taboo to discuss salaries and is frequently (illegally) discouraged by companies. The residual effects on employee comfort may impact our ability to move forward into a future of greater wage transparency.

When respondents were asked whether they feel comfortable discussing their salaries with coworkers, only 24% said they feel comfortable, while 76% said that they feel uncomfortable.

Additionally, male respondents were 10% more likely than women to say they were comfortable discussing their salaries.

However, Gen Z respondents break from the general public on this topic. In fact, 47% of respondents aged 18-24 are comfortable discussing their salaries, compared with only 22% of respondents over 25 years old. This significant difference suggests that Gen Z may be poised to transform salary discussion culture in the coming years.

Most respondents agree that the gender pay gap will be negatively impacted by companies discouraging open salary discussion, with a greater number of women participants agreeing than men.

The future of the gender pay gap

Views on the future of the gender pay gap are mixed. In response to the question of whether the gender pay gap will cease to exist in their lifetime, 60% of male participants answered positively, compared to 38% of women.

Younger generations are also much more likely to say that the gender pay gap will disappear in their lifetime. One possible reason for this is that they will live longer, but it may also be due to optimism about the cultural shift toward equitable pay practices and greater comfort around wage transparency.

Estimates concerning how long it will take to close the gender pay gap range from 38 years in the US, to 250 years globally. No matter whose projection is most accurate, it’s clear we still have a long way to go.

Many of the problems that give rise to the gender pay gap, such as ingrained biases and a disproportionate burden of household and child care on women, are deeply entrenched social norms and will take time and sustained efforts to overcome.

However, the noticeable perception shift around openness and discussion of wages from Gen Z is encouraging and gives reason to be optimistic that the gender pay gap will close in our lifetime through the support of workplace transparency and fair practice.

Technology and Entrepreneurship in Social Work

After helplessly watching her sister try to navigate the international adoption process, Felicia Curcuru launched Binti in an effort to reinvent foster care and adoption. Since the launch of the company in 2017, Binti has expanded its network to over 190 agencies across 26 states in the U.S. The software Binti creates helps social workers and others who work in foster care to effectively approve 80% more families and decrease their administrative burden by up to 40%.

Jimmy Chen, a Stanford graduate and the son of struggling immigrants from China, created Propel in 2014 after noticing that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients needed to call a 16-digit phone number to check their balance. In order to check their balances, some of the recipients would resort to strategies such as buying cheap items such as bananas. Currently, the Propel app helps 5 million households who are eligible for SNAP benefits to manage their finances!

Besides using technology and entrepreneurship to transform human service systems, what do these companies have in common? They were not started by social workers.

Technology and Entrepreneurship in Social Work

Technology and entrepreneurship have and will continue to transform our profession. But social workers have stayed on the sidelines of this creative process for too long. If we are to be successful in effectively disseminating our incredible values and pushing forth the mission of social work, social workers must play a more direct role in embracing the movements of technology and entrepreneurship.

This is not a new concept. Research articles on technology and entrepreneurship in social work have been published for years, and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has published reports on technology in social work. Furthermore, universities such as Columbia University in New York have embraced the movement, and have created a minor for social workers called “Emerging Technology, Media, and Society,” which trains social workers to understand the latest developments in the world of technology. Finally, thousands of social workers operate their own private practices and embrace the benefits of entrepreneurial practices.

This slow, yet continuous shift towards technology and entrepreneurship is important, but it must be accelerated. The question still remains: how do we enable social workers to embrace the power behind technology and entrepreneurship? Here are some ideas:

Enabling Social Workers to Embrace Technology and Entrepreneurship

First and foremost, social work curricula must embrace technology and entrepreneurship. The curricula must incorporate mandatory courses on technology and entrepreneurship, and these courses should be taught by experts in these fields.

Social work departments must enable field placements for social workers in technology or startup environments. By being a part of successful organizations in these spaces, social work students can be exposed to this type of thinking and be inspired by the possibilities!

Social workers themselves must take time to explore and learn about these fields. Although it is difficult enough to maintain our mental health while managing our caseloads, we can utilize the time we spend on webinars or Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to take classes in technology and entrepreneurship.

Social workers can become intrapreneurs, or employees that create new projects from within organizations and businesses. For example, during my time at a community mental health organization, I helped launch a social media channel for the organization’s therapists, which allowed us to feel more connected, share resources, and learn from one another.

Moving Forward

As social workers, we uphold an ethical code that enables us to represent the most marginalized members of our society. But we can only do this effectively by embracing the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and social work. Although there is no silver-bullet answer, we can help social workers gain entrepreneurial and technological skills by broadening the education available to social work students and ourselves so that we can all better understand the possibilities that are out there.

Nine Major Causes of Workplace Conflicts and How to Resolve Them

Every organization faces conflicts now and then, even if rules and procedures are strictly in place. Miscommunication, misunderstanding, and disagreement happen. But when they are not resolved immediately, they lead to workplace conflicts. When trivial issues turn into conflicts, they disturb the workplace and affect productivity. Workplace conflicts spread negative vibes in an organization. Effective steps from the management must curb them in the initial stage and restore peace. Here are the causes of workplace conflicts that affect production and bring down the profit for the year.

Resistance to Change

In the workplace, as days go, employees get used to their routine and start to feel comfortable with their assigned jobs. When, for a solid reason, the management restructures the office and enhances the nature of the job to the benefit of the employees, some employees show resistance to adapting to that change. Now, it becomes the responsibility of the management to help employees understand the need for change and accept it to embark on a new beginning.

Poor Working Habits

Employees must know how to work professionally once they are in their workplace. Some employees may be sloppy in their work or some may take extra care of their work. Training programs will help employees to understand their roles in the office and act sensibly while completing their assigned jobs.
Talk in person with the team members or arrange for a meeting with the professional counselor to eliminate negative vibes and bring positive changes in the workplace.

No Clarity in Assigned Jobs

Issues arise when there is no clarity while assigning job profiles to new employees. Frequently changing job expectations can also lead to confusion among employees. Even after having an adequate number of years in service, some employees fail to have a clear picture of their job responsibilities. Though induction programs clearly explain what the organization expects from the employees, it is better to have regular training sessions to help employees understand their roles and responsibilities clearly. This will help to prevent workplace conflicts.

Poor Communication

Lack of communication among teams and team members in the organization often leads to workplace conflicts. Management must exhibit transparency and give space for employees to approach them whenever they need clarification to clear their doubts. Team leaders must communicate effectively with their team members so that every team member understands assignments and instructions thoroughly. Poor communication between peers and colleagues can also trigger problems.

It is better to check if everyone has received the information correctly. For it will help to build the morale of employees to move on smoothly with no issues.

Handling Differences in Personalities

Every organization has employees from different cultures, backgrounds, experiences, preferences, and temperaments. Personality clashes among team members could lead to workplace conflicts. When there are individual differences between team members, it leads to a lack of mutual respect among them. It will have a drastic impact on workplace relationships and affect productivity.

The managers or team leaders must understand the issue and resolve them in the beginning stage itself. As colleagues, every employee must understand the strengths and weaknesses of the other employee and behave accordingly.

Lack of Supervision

The absence of good supervision in the workplace leads to workplace conflicts. The managers and team leaders must understand their supervisory roles not only to check the completion of assigned jobs but also if there to know if there is smooth interaction within the team. They must be able to identify even trivial issues among team members and be ready to listen to everyone with an unbiased approach while handling issues.

Unacceptable Work Culture

An unhappy workplace has a toxic work culture that supports bullying and abusive behavior among team members. When a trivial issue grows into a serious workplace conflict, the entire work environment turns hostile. It not only affects the productivity but also the mental strength of the employees. Since workplace conflicts have a direct impact on the productivity of an organization, management must pay special attention to maintaining a happy work environment where everyone is content and comfortable while doing their assigned jobs.

No Understanding of Workplace Policies

Every organization follows a set of policies and procedures to be professional while at the workplace. When some employees fail to follow them, there will be no effective implementation of the rules and policies. Management must make every employee understand that rules are there to benefit them and make their working hours peaceful and comfortable.

Following Different Values and Work Styles

Just like different personalities, employees have different workplace values. The workplace values supported by older workers may be different from younger workers. Not accepting the difference between workplace values may lead to workplace conflicts. When a difference of opinion leads to a workplace conflict, it may affect the harmony of the workplace and productivity as well. Similarly, it can lead to unhealthy workplace competition that can affect teamwork and bring down the confidence level of employees.

Conclusion

Workplace conflicts should never go ignored. Even petty complaints can grow into bigger issues if they are not resolved as soon as possible. Managers and team leaders who supervise employees must know to identify workplace issues. They can approach expert mediators to get tips to resolve conflicts in their workplace.

Transparency and interaction with everyone in the organization will help management know every employee. Unbiased in their approach, they must make the correct decision at the right time. If people in their supervisory roles don’t understand the problems faced by the employees, it will ultimately affect the organization negatively. Maintaining a happy environment with positive vibes is the best way to prevent workplace conflicts.

6 Helpful Webinars and Websites for Social Workers

At this time of uncertainty, it remains crucial that social workers are reminded of the importance of their roles in communities, legislation, and in their profession. After all, social worker employment is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2020). The websites listed below are intended to support social workers and other helping professionals emotionally, intellectually, and socially. Although these websites do not offer CEU credits, they serve as valuable resources to improve practice, gain new therapeutic skills, and promote self-care.

The Dibble Institute Web Series

You probably haven’t heard of them. The Dibble Institute is a nonprofit agency that specializes in relationship training for youth. Their goal is to help young people build a foundation for healthy romantic relationships now, and for lasting, positive family environments in the future.

The Dibble Institute is currently offering a 12-Week curriculum, “Mind Matters Online Series” to help the viewer develop skills and coping mechanisms to overcome anxiety and build resilience. It is presented by Dr. Carolyn Curtis and Dixie Zittlow. The sessions are recorded, so being present live is not necessary. Be prepared to gain insight towards the self, laugh, and even dance in this series.

ADDitude Resources for ADHD and helping professionals

This hidden gem has been around since 1998. Even though ADDitude is known for their website, they have a print magazine ADDitude, weekly newsletters, live and recorded webinars, ebooks, and free downloads. The inquisitive side of you will enjoy exploring since there is so much to uncover.

You may not have heard of Bessel van der Kolk, MD. He is recognized for his research on trauma and it’s various impacts at different stages of development. As helping professionals, we could learn a thing or two from what he has to say. In his presentation, On the Global Coronavirus Crisis: Steering Ourselves and Our Clients Through New & Developing Traumas, you will learn how to create and promote connection and community in this crisis and gain activities to share with clients that keep them from re-experiencing past traumas. 

Oregon State University Cancer Institute (OHSU)

Caring for Yourself and Caring for Others During a Disaster/Epidemic OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care is led by Susan Hedlund, LCSW, OSW-C. Susan is Director of Patient/Family Support Services at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. This 25-minute webinar is helpful for not just social workers and social work students, but all health care professionals seeking to manage the stress of the coronavirus pandemic.

Therapist Aid

Therapist Aid provides therapy worksheets on challenges such as anger, self-esteem, CBT, stress, and relationships. These activity worksheets can be assigned to the client as a “homework assignment” or, like most helping professionals, this can be a joint activity with the client. You can also find helpful videos on Therapist Aid to help guide your sessions or use them as a teaching tool with your clients or students.

National Association of Social Workers

Last but not least: The National Association of Social Workers (NASW). This is an obvious choice. However, the NASW is constantly releasing new information, articles, and press releases. Recently, the NASW released a document titled “Anti-racism Resources” that lists books, podcasts, articles, and films to engage in anti-racism in light of the George Floyd protests and advocacy. The NASW website has a job search engine, research library, and offers online events.

There is an endless amount of excellent websites, webinars, and articles for social workers to improve their profession and it can be overwhelming. At the end of the day, self-care also helps us improve our practice and our profession. These are resources to lean on in times like these. 

Social Work School Launches New Domestic and Sexual Violence Training for Massachusetts Licensed Health Professionals

Online training helps health professional meet state law Chapter 260 requirements and prepare them for work with survivors and others impacted by domestic and sexual violence 

Simmons University’s School of Social Work recently announced a new comprehensive online domestic violence and sexual violence (DV/SV) training to educate Massachusetts-based health professionals and prepare them for work with survivors, children exposed to violence, and people who engage in violence. 

The training, Simmons University Massachusetts Chapter 260 Training on Domestic and Sexual Violence, is designed to meet state law requirements, which mandates that health professionals participate in domestic and sexual violence training in order to be licensed by their respective boards. The training was developed to fulfill the Chapter 260 mandate and has been approved by Massachusetts’ Department of Public Health (DPH). 

“Domestic and sexual violence is a pervasive problem that virtually every health professional will encounter at some point in their career,” said Dr. Kristie Thomas, Associate Professor of social work at Simmons University, and the training’s lead designer. “This new training is a crucial resource that provides essential knowledge and tools to social workers, nurses, physicians and other health professionals so they can enhance care and better serve their patients impacted by sexual and domestic violence.” 

The online training, which takes about three and a half hours, is informed by the latest empirical evidence and best practices, and is designed to be easily accessible so health professionals can apply it in their work. 

“The training requirements of Chapter 260 will help ensure that every health professional working with someone impacted by sexual and domestic violence is informed about these difficult issues and can provide the best possible care,” said Judy Benitez Clancy, director of the Division of Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention and Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “Simmons University has provided high-quality online domestic violence training for several years. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health was excited to approve this new training, which includes extensive information about both sexual violence and domestic violence.”

The training is organized into four units and covers a variety of topics, including the health impacts of domestic and sexual violence, common physiological symptoms, the immediate and long-term impacts on survivors, the role of structural oppression in increasing risk and decreasing help-seeking, prevention strategies, reporting requirements, and a range of resources for people who are affected by domestic and sexual violence. 

“Simmons University is a leader in educating students in social work and public health, and we’re pleased to offer this new training that is easily accessible online,” said Dr. Stephanie Berzin, Dean of Simmons University’s College of Social Sciences, Policy, and Practice. “This training provides crucial knowledge and tools that thousands of health professionals across Massachusetts can utilize and apply in a tangible way to their practices.” 

Massachusetts’ Chapter 260 law requires that the following groups of MA health professionals participate in the DV/SV training: physicians, licensed mental health counselors, social workers (LICSW, LCSW), psychologists (APA), licensed educational psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, physician assistants, nursing home administrators, nurses, and licensed rehabilitation counselors.

“People who experience sexual and domestic violence interact with a wide host of health and human service providers who can be a big part of their healing process,” said Debra J. Robbin, Executive Director, Jane Doe Inc. “This online training can make a tremendous difference in the readiness and ability of these caregivers to identify, support, and refer people who are impacted by abuse to sexual and domestic violence programs. We also appreciate the inclusive, survivor centered, and trauma informed content and philosophy that runs throughout the training.”

The training will be accessible online through Simmons University and DPH at:  https://sites.google.com/a/simmons.edu/chapter-260-dv-sv-training/home

Home to the oldest school of clinical social work in the country, Simmons has more than a century of experience educating social workers who are equipped to serve urban, suburban, and rural communities. Simmons also offers the only MSW program in Massachusetts with a required course in substance use disorders for all first-year students. In addition, the Simmons MSW is the only program in New England to use hired actors as part of its innovative Simmons Clinical Simulation curriculum.

Why A Person Centered Approach Is Valuable

The face of modern social problems has changed, and old stereotypes aren’t holding up. Homelessness, for example, no longer looks like it did a decade or two ago. Service providers at Miracle Hill, a leading agency offering help to homeless people in South Carolina, reported their homeless population has grown well beyond the traditional image of the middle-aged male. Today’s homeless people include more families, women, children, senior adults, and people with mental illnesses. Social workers who treat their clients based on generalizations will find their work stymied.

In the face of changing social, economic, and demographic landscapes, how will the field of social work evolve to meet these new needs, and how will it maximize creative opportunities? Many leaders in the field believe the answers to those questions lie in a person-centered approach in social work.

What Is A Person-Centered Approach in Social Work?

Person-centered care is not unique to social work; several occupations benefit from this practice, including nurses, physical therapists, and speech and language pathologists, among many others. Like those professions, social workers can reframe their occupation in person-centered terms to meet the unique needs of their individual clients.

An article published in the Journal of Gerontological Social Work called person-centered care the “benchmark” for quality care, particularly in marginalized populations such as older adults. It merges traditional social work practices with a renewed focus on personhood, using the relationship between the care provider and the recipient as the determining factor in making recommendations for aid. Taking a person-centered planning approach literally might mean asking, “If I were the patient, what would I want my care, planning, or environment to be?” and then developing a care plan from that orientation. This approach differs from the longstanding idea in social work that what works for one person in a typical situation could be standardized as an approach for all people facing similar situations.

Many of the ideas within person-centered social work emerged from Carl Rogers, a psychotherapist who authored the book “Becoming a Person.” Rogers’ research and its applications focused on helping his patients become their authentic selves rather than a reflection of their society. Social workers applied Rogers’ theories and insights to their work and began to emphasize helping clients develop as individuals rather than as reflections of their social subset. This new approach relies on a social worker’s highly developed sense of empathy since person-centered care emerges from the worker’s ability to put themselves in the other’s place.

Examples of Person-Centered Care

Examples of a person-centered approach to social work vary depending upon the type of client served.

  • Mrs. Webb is a 74-year-old with mild dementia who lives with her son and maintains her own room and bathroom. She is still able to perform many tasks with minor assistance, such as cooking and personal care. Taking a person-centered approach, a social worker would likely recommend home healthcare for Mrs. Webb and plan to reassess her program and assistance needs as the disease progresses.
  • Mr. Watson is a 69-year-old man who suffered a massive stroke two years ago and lives in a personal care facility. He is a religious man, so a social worker would take a person-centered approach by respecting his right to spiritual development, including participation in worship services.
  • Mr. Shoemaker is a 52-year-old man who lives with his dog in a car. He recently accepted a job as a dishwasher but cannot save enough money to make first and last month’s payments to a landlord. A person-centered social worker may help him connect with a housing-first provider to move him from his car into an appropriate housing situation that would accept his dog, too.

BENEFITS FOR THE PROVIDER

  • Improves clinical outcomes. According to a study published in the Chinese Journal of Nursing, a person-centered approach improves clinical outcomes for a variety of illnesses, probably due to the clients being more involved in their medical treatment.
  • Increases staff morale. Social workers tend to feel less exhausted and more accomplished when they perceive themselves as helping a client achieve a personal goal.
  • Creates a partnership between worker and client. By focusing on the person, this approach makes clients and social workers partners in improving the client’s situation rather than establishing the power dynamic of a traditional relationship.

BENEFITS FOR THE CLIENT

  • Focus on unique interests and preferences. Clients will nearly always appreciate a plan that includes their interests in art, gardening, cooking, spirituality, reading, or another hobby.
  • Improved treatment or life care plan. By involving the client, the worker can identify the treatments or life care approaches that would work best for the individual.

As noted in The Benefits and Barriers to Person Centered Planning for Adults with Developmental Disabilities, “The concept of Person-Centered Planning (PCP) values autonomy, respect, relationships, inclusion, quality of life, and self-determination for people.” Based on these values, a person-centered approach to social work benefits both the worker and the client.

Share Your Goals – But Be Careful Whom You Tell

If you want to achieve a goal, make sure you share your objective with the right person.

In a new set of studies, researchers found that people showed greater goal commitment and performance when they told their goal to someone they believed had higher status than themselves.

It didn’t help people at all to tell their goals to someone they thought had lower status or to keep their objectives to themselves.

These results run counter to a widely reported 2009 study that suggested telling other people your goals is actually counterproductive, said Howard Klein, lead author of the new study and professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“Contrary to what you may have heard, in most cases you get more benefit from sharing your goal than if you don’t – as long as you share it with someone whose opinion you value,” Klein said.

Results showed that people were motivated by sharing a goal with someone they thought had higher status because they cared about how that higher-status person would evaluate them.

“You don’t want them to think less of you because you didn’t attain your goal,” Klein said.

In these studies, higher-status people were those who the participants thought had more prestige and respect than they did.

The study was published online recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology and will appear in a future print edition.

In one study, the researchers found that working adults frequently do share their personal career goals and that their commitment to attaining those goals was higher when those goals were shared with someone higher in status.

In another study, 171 undergraduate students were seated at computers and told they had to move a slider on the screen to the number 50 as many times as possible within the allotted time.

After counting how many times they successfully did this, they had to do it again, but this time they were told to set and write down a goal.

The experimenter then informed participants that a lab assistant would come around and check on their goals.  The same person always checked on the participants’ goals – but there were two different versions of this assistant.

In some cases, the lab assistant was dressed in a suit and introduced himself as a doctoral-level student in the business school who was an expert on today’s study topic.  That was someone the undergraduate participants agreed was a higher-status person than themselves.

For other participants, the same lab assistant dressed in casual clothing and introduced himself as a student at a local community college who was working part time at the business school. In this case, the students rated the assistant as lower in status than themselves.

A third group of participants didn’t share their goals with the lab assistant. Results showed that participants who shared their goals with the higher-status lab assistant reported that they were more committed to achieving the goal they set for themselves than were those who told the lower-status assistant.

And, in fact, those whose goals were seen by the higher-status assistant did perform better on the task than did the others.

Participants who shared their goal with the lower-status assistant performed no better than those who told no one about their goal.

“If you don’t care about the opinion of whom you tell, it doesn’t affect your desire to persist – which is really what goal commitment is all about,” Klein said.

“You want to be dedicated and unwilling to give up on your goal, which is more likely when you share that goal with someone you look up to.”

A third similar study also asked participants about their “evaluation apprehension” – how much they cared about what the lab assistant thought of them.

The results showed that participants who cared more about what the lab assistant thought of them were more committed to their goal and were more likely to achieve it. In addition, evaluation apprehension was higher when the lab assistant was viewed as having higher status.

Evaluation apprehension may be one key to why it helps to tell a higher-status person about your goals, Klein said. But it may be possible to take that too far. “We didn’t find it in this study, but it is possible that you may create so much anxiety in trying to impress someone that it could interfere with your performance,” Klein said.

A final, more long-term study examined 292 college students over the course of an entire semester. The participants set challenging grade goals at the beginning of the semester and shared them.

As in the other studies, students who told higher-status people about their goal showed more goal commitment and were more likely to achieve their target grade than those who told lower-status people.

These findings provide evidence that counters popular media recommendations – including a TED talk with more than 6 million views – that one should stay silent about a goal, Klein said.

Those recommendations are based on an oversimplification of one journal article, the results of which run counter to the majority of studies in the field, he said. So whom should you share your goals with?

For work goals, a supervisor is an obvious choice, but it depends on the situation, Klein said. If your goal is to get a better job or if you have another goal you would not want your supervisor to know, a mentor may be a better choice. You can even look to someone you admire outside of work to tell.

No matter what kind of goal you’re talking about, one thing matters when sharing, according to Klein.

“The important thing is that you need to care about the opinion of who you are telling,” he said.

Klein’s co-authors were Robert Lount, professor, and Bryce Linford, doctoral student, both in management and human resources at Ohio State; and Hee Man Park of Penn State University.

What Is a Genogram and Why Do I Need to Learn How to Create One?

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A genogram is a picture of a person’s family relationships and history. It goes beyond a traditional family tree allowing the creators to visualize patterns and psychological factors that affect relationships.

Genograms were first developed in clinical psychology and family therapy settings by Monica McGoldrick and Randy Gerson and popularized through the publication of a book titled Genograms: Assessment and Intervention in 1985. This new system visualized the client in the context of other relatives including parents, grandparents, spouses, siblings, children, nephews, and nieces.

Genograms are now used by various groups of people in a variety of fields such as medicine, psychology, social work, genetic research, education, and youth work to name but a few.

Most social work practitioners in personal and family therapy use genograms alongside sociograms for personal records and/or to explain family dynamics to their clients.

Why would I use a genogram?

A genogram is a really useful tool for helping us to understand the key people and relationships in a client’s life. It can also help us to see patterns within those relationships and generational patterns which are affecting our clients. Because of the pictorial nature of genograms, it easily shows issues and concerns that might not be spoken about usually in a non-threatening manner.

Genograms also help our clients to put a framework together that explains their circumstances. Many young people who are being abused struggle to speak about it, however showing them how to draw a genogram can lead them to draw the abusive relationship which opens the dialogue. It can also help them see their own struggles using a strengths-based way of working through the issues.

Most of all genograms can change. They are a picture of what is happening now. When I work with families, it is often when they are on the brink of an all-out war. Their genograms often look like a child got hold of the textas. Colour everywhere and squiggly lines as far as the eye can see. After a few months, we revisit and there are a few less squiggly lines and a few less colours. It is then that I show them their old genograms and ask what has happened to make these changes happen. It is a great tool for showing the changes and progress on their healing journey.

So what is in a genogram?

A genogram uses shapes to convey meaning. Squares are males, circles are females, and triangles are pregnancy related. A cross through the shape means a death. Pets even get a jersey! The shapes begin to tell us how many people and what sex they are. At this point, we can add ages, names, dates of birth, and death. We can add as much personal information as is needed.

The next step is for us to add how the relationships are brought together. Otherwise, we just have a bunch of shapes on a page. Marriage is a solid line, divorce has two strokes through it. Dating is a dotted line etc.

Finally, we need to look at the emotional nature of the relationships. Are the relationships harmonious? Are there friendships or even best friends? Are they in love? Perhaps there is even hostility in the relationship. Is there violence, mistrust, or even a family feud? Perhaps there is abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse.

All of these little bits of information come together to paint a picture of how a person’s family and relationships affect them. It shows the patterns and the history that make a person who they are. It can show situations, intergenerational concerns, and family dynamics that create the environment for our clients to struggle. It can also be used as a therapeutic tool to address the struggles and bring about strength.

Money: What Rich Social Workers Do To Make More

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Ask any random social worker on the street what the number one complaint in social work is and they’ll say it’s the money (or, rather, the lack thereof).

This is not a new complaint and not likely one to go away in the next several years. Social work has long been associated with volunteerism and poverty and it seems that the more good we try to do, the harder it is to make a living doing it.

And if it wasn’t hard enough for those of us who work in the field, it’s even worse for many of our clients. Ironically because of often limited resources those of us who are trained to do more just aren’t financially empowered to do so.

But why is that? Why aren’t more social workers making more money? Better yet, what are rich social workers doing that the rest of us are not?

Suzy, Steadman + Brené

A while back I wrote about three amazingly wealthy social workers and outlined how they had built their enormous wealth.

Besides all being linked to Oprah in some way (which never hurts), they all share the common variable in that they each created unique products or services that they then sell to those who want and can afford them. In turn they’re able to not only take better care of themselves, but they also  create more time to do more of the things they love.

Not only is this a good strategy to create wealth, but it allows you to serve many more people than you could one-on-one.

That’s Not Social Work, Is It?

The universally accepted definition of social work is that:

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work.  Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing. – International Federation of Social Work 2014

Basically, we help people grow and cooperate with their environment to reach their maximum potential.

Traditionally, the methods to do this have been through providing services such as community programs, case conferences, home visits, counseling sessions, advocacy meetings, policy developments, administrative delegations and personal burnout (just kidding about that last part…kind of). And rightly so. In order for social work to work there must be practitioners on the ground to help clients meet their goals. Without them social work would cease to exist as we know it.

Now in the business world, these services are actually called products and services and they’re no different from the products and services that rich social workers create, except that in the traditional social service work-world social workers don’t create the product, they are the product.

I call that getting swindled and pimped. ~ (Macklemore’s words, not mine.)

Case Study

Now stay with me. We’re going to look more closely at Brené Brown: a tri-degreed social worker (I just made that word up and I like it), a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and a rich social worker. Brené offers a great opportunity to take a closer look at the idea of how a social worker might create wealth through offering his or her own products and services while still working within a social work system.

I got a chance to hear Mrs. Brown speak at the National Association of Social Worker’s Conference in 2014. She was every bit the engaging presenter that you’d expect her to be. As mentioned in  the above-referenced article, Brené has managed to expand her social work efforts to the masses and in the process she’s become very, very rich.

So how did she do it? She created products.

Not only has Brené published several books  for the commercial market (not just for academics) – two of which are New York Times’ #1 Best Sellers – but she has a blog, has authored several CD’s, she’s created online classes, and she speaks at various events. So even though she has a salaried position as a university research professor, she still finds time to create products and offer high-priced services.

In short, Brené is a product creation machine. And you know what she does with those products, don’t you? She sells them and creates for herself multiple pay days per year.

Go’head Brené!

Brené Brown on Empathy

Motivation For Creation

So why would a social worker go “off the grid” and create multiple products and services, and what does this mean for you?

Well, one reason obviously is to have a way to make more money, but if your only motivation for creation is to make more money I guarantee you’re doing it wrong.

As social workers we often hear about the magical, mystical legend called “self-care.” Sadly, far too many of us continue to ignore its routine practice until we find ourselves so far down the rabbit hole of burnout that the only choice we have left is to cut our losses and run.

That’s sad and should not be (yes, I used the “s” word).

But the act of creation has it’s own kind of magic in it too. Studies show (here’s one) that when you take the time to focus your energy in a way that is creatively stimulating  in order to bring a new thing into existence  it can have tremendous benefits on your mental, emotional, and even physical health.

But I’m sure you knew that already.

The Missing Piece

What you probably didn’t know is that most social workers have no idea how to create a product or service that they might sell to someone and generally, unless we’re talking private practice, it’s a wildly foreign idea.

In the upcoming weeks I’ll share with you the process of what it takes to use your creativity and package it into a sellable product or service, but in the meantime why not schedule some time to reconnect with your inner creative? Write, paint, sing, read, connect, ski, cook, draw, climb, dance; pretty much do anything that pulls out the creative side of you and try to see if you can assess your level of prowess compared with someone else not as skilled. Those gaps may provide the very clues you need to identify  where your opportunity for product development may lie.

But for now, answer this question:

How would my life change if I were able to create and package my expertise and passion that others could then purchase to improve their lives?

The more clearly you can describe this, the better.

Finally, if you you know someone that could benefit from this, please pass it on!

7 Things Every Clinician Should Know About Introverts

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It’s not unusual for introverts to run across prejudice, even in the clinical setting. They are encouraged by spouses, bosses, and some therapists to be more “outgoing,” “on,” “cheerful,” and “energetic.” They are told that if they put more effort into what amounts to an extroverted way of being, that they will be happier, enjoy more success at work, and please the people around them.

Susan Cain makes the case in her bestselling Quiet that this bias stems from a culture that is predominated by extroverted ideals coupled with a misunderstanding of what constitutes introversion. As a psychotherapist who’s an introvert, I’ve developed an interest in this topic both personally and professionally. Here are some of the observations I’ve made about my clinical practice.

1. Introversion is normal.

Introversion/extroversion is one of the basic dimensions of personality. A preference for an introverted way of being is normal and includes more time for solitude, not wanting to assert oneself in a self-promotional way at work and other social situations, and a preference for, and even preoccupation with introspection.

Introversion is not synonymous with shyness, depression, or schizoid tendencies. It does, however, overlap with Elaine Aron’s concept of high sensitivity. Introverts are not misanthropes. Most have social skills comparable to extroverts.

Introversion and extroversion exist along a continuum and, according to Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) data, may be normally distributed. Therefore most people (two out of three) will be within one standard deviation of the mean and will have well expressed introvert and extrovert traits. Because of the need to act extroverted in many work and social situations, people who have an introverted center of gravity may wittingly or unwittingly be acting in extroverted manner. Having a better understanding of what it is to be an introvert can empower people to be more authentic and to practice better self-care.

2. You may be an introvert yourself.

Many helping professionals are introverts. They are drawn to counseling work by an interest in the inner workings of the mind and a preference for significant, one-on-one conversations. Even though the work is meaningful, it can be draining. If you are not predominately an extrovert, you will have to work to restore your energy from doing the work to offset exhaustion. Mindfulness can help with this process of energy restoration

3. There are methodological issues measuring introversion.

The most common research method for measuring introversion doesn’t measure introversion but rather the degree of extraversion that is present. Researchers Peter Hills and Michael Argyle are some of the few researchers to identify the anti-introvert bias present in research. They lament, “The view that extroversion is a preferred state has come to be widely accepted among social psychologists. In consequence, introverts are sometimes represented as withdrawn, isolated or lacking social competence, rather than as individuals who seek independence and autonomy.”

4. The culture is biased against introverts

Psychotherapist Ester Schaler Bucholz in her book The Call of Solitude pointed out, “Health professionals are actually not that different from the average person. Like a relative or companion, they may see the self-possessed introspective person as less malleable, less normal.” They differ in how they feel when those skills are expressed and the situations they prefer to express them within. For example, I prefer an in depth conversation to small talk of the cocktail party variety. My appetite for socialization differs in that I feel a strong need for compensatory solitude after most social forays.

5. You probably have a lot of introverts in your clinical practice

Psychotherapist and introvert advocate Laurie Helgoe discusses in her book Introvert Power that introverts are more introspective and curious about their inner life and therefore more prone to present to treatment. This could create a bias since the depressed or anxious introverts are sitting in your consulting room in greater numbers than extroverts with the same degree of symptoms. They don’t have more psychopathology, just more willingness to address it

6. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for introverts

Introspection has its own set of pitfalls: rumination, obsession, and worry. Introverts can get stuck in their stories and may need help getting out of their heads and into the present moment. As the embodied practice of awareness to this moment, mindfulness is an ideal fit for introverts. Mindfulness meditation practice can help them (and everyone) to better navigate the interior dimensions of the mind to foster creative imagination while mitigating rumination.

7. Introverted ways of being can be helpful for introverts and extroverts alike

As a culture, we have gotten out of balance and squeezed quiet and solitude out of our lives. This, no doubt, contributes to the stressfulness of life. We work longer hours, devote more time to children, and have access to 24/7 information and social media. Mindfulness meditation can help to restore quiet solitude in everyone’s lives. Extroverts can benefit from more quiet; introverts desperately need it.

Motivational Work versus Motivational Interviewing

Motivational work is an approach designed to help people who are considered to be unmotivated and hopeless. Most therapeutic contacts are based on the client/patient being motivated to some degree, i.e. that he or she wants to cooperate constructively and accept help.

Nobody is a hopeless case. This is the idea which I have fervently believed in during the whole of my professional career. Time after time, I have seen that it is possible to motivate all clients within psychiatry, criminal care and social services.

hqdefault (1)When you expect constructive cooperation from clients/patients, you only reach the group that is relatively functional.

This leads to the motivation paradox: the clients/patients who have the greatest need of support receive the least. Motivational work tries to resolve this paradox, so that those who are most in need actually receive help.

Motivational Work (MW) is a method that has evolved from my work in cooperation with different groups, and it differs from Motivational Interviewing (MI) by being more comprehensive and general.

MI is more specific and originates from a non-confrontational psychotherapeutic method (Roger’s client-centred therapy), which is then applied to unmotivated clients.

Motivational interviewing is a counseling style based on the following assumptions:

  • Ambivalence about substance use (and change) is normal and constitutes an important motivational obstacle in recovery.
  • Ambivalence can be resolved by working with your client’s intrinsic motivations and values.
  • The alliance between you and your client is a collaborative partnership to which you each bring important expertise.
  • An empathic, supportive, yet directive, counseling style provides conditions under which change can occur. (Direct argument and aggressive confrontation may tend to increase client defensiveness and reduce the likelihood of behavioral change.) Read More

One advantage of Motivational Work is due to it being aimed at all types of clients even those with most destructive behaviour. There is no preconceived technique to which the client must be adapted, but instead the method is adapted to the client’s behaviour. Working in this way, one has a different paradigm from other methods which are based on psychotherapeutic thinking.

For this reason, Motivational Work is built on a developed theory of the psyche, setting goals, defense and the process of change, which differs from the psychotherapeutic approach. At the same time, the theory is a support for personnel, who are able to remain emotionally involved since the risk of being burned out increases as clients are less motivated and act destructively.

Even though many of the ideas are new, some of the basic premises behind Motivational Work come from the Therapeutic community and Moreno’s psycho­drama. Both emphasize feelings and actions. The method was also inspired by Carl Rogers, but from his later development of “per­son-centred therapy” in which he worked using confrontation in encounter groups.

Part one of Motivational Work deals with the attitudes and approaches the motivational worker must bring with him to his meetings with the client. The contents of this section are not only of general interest, but they are also of profound significance to the motivational worker as regards the prevention of burnout and the maintenance of commitment.

Motivational Work is suitable for social workers, correctional workers, treatment personnel in psychiatry, hospital staff, and police. In other words, for all categories of people who meet unmotivated clients in their work.

Children From Adversity: Interview with Travis Lloyd

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Children from adversity is a term often used to describe children who have experienced childhood traumas, abuse, and/or stressful conditions which could dwarf their emotional and physical growth. When we think of children from adversity, we tend to imagine children heading down the wrong path towards prison, and we often hear the horror stories of the foster care system going wrong.

What about the successes, and those who defy the odds of escaping their circumstances? Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Travis Lloyd, an artist, and motivational speaker, who had to navigate his way through many foster homes and group homes in order to get where he is today.

The experience and knowledge of a child from adversity is a valuable resource helping professionals should be utilizing more often as a source of expertise. Are we adequately measuring, identifying, and using as resources children from adversity who have escaped their childhood circumstances in order to determine what’s working and what’s not?

Children from adversity who are able to flourish despite their environment often display resiliency and survival skills many researchers still can not predict. Fortunately, Travis is using the skill sets he has developed in order to help others. I ran across Travis on Twitter when I viewed a YouTube video someone tweeted me, and I had to share his story with you.

SWH: Tell us a bit about your background, and what lead to your current role as a motivational speaker.

Travis: I have a story of Achieving Success Against All Odds, which is the mantra that I’ve built my speaking platform on.  This stems from beating the odds of the negative statistics related to foster care.  As far as my young mind could tell, I had a fairly normal life as a child. All of that changed when my parents divorced around the age of 9.  My parents had a rough divorce, as far too many people can relate to.  My father ended up in county jail due to the physical altercations and my mother wasn’t quite able to hold things together so she ended up hospitalized for her emotional instability.  My sister is six years older than me and struggled to cope as a teen.  She ended up running the streets and doing drugs so she went to drug treatment.

I ended up in two foster homes for a couple of months before my mother, sister and I relocated to Iowa, where my mother’s family is from.  Middle school was a struggle between a constantly unstable home life and bouncing in and out of a few group homes.  My aunt and uncle made a difference in my life by taking me out of that environment and giving me a permanent home to live in when I was about 14.  I stabled out in high school, but still struggled with some identity issues when I went away to college.  I started as a business major, but switched to nursing to have a guaranteed good income upon graduating.  I started a career as an ER nurse at the same time as taking custody of my 9 year old nephew.  I wasn’t satisfied working long hours in a high stress environment so I sought other ways to spend my time.  I ended up volunteering for a foster care empowerment program where after only 3 weeks I became the regional program facilitator.  Soon after that, I realized there was a need for people to speak and inspire foster youth and launched my first website.

SWH: When you are sharing your story, what is the reoccurring narrative or feedback you receive from your audiences?

Travis: People often share comments like “your message was very inspiring and encouraged me to stay true to my dreams. I really feel like you touched the hearts of every single person in the room.” I always get a few people who said that they started crying.  Most of these people are the ones who can relate to the childhood struggles or have a close friend or family member who has been through similar things.  They love seeing that “its possible” to overcome and succeed.

SWH: What do you believe are some of the biggest barriers and challenges facing our youth?

Travis: A lack of inspiration for dreaming and a lack of encouragement from the adults in their lives.  There’s a difference between being supportive through providing basic needs versus providing all of the unconditional love and compassion that encourages someone to never see a glass ceiling.  The majority of our youth haven’t had the basics of how to be successfully demonstrated to them.  It’s hard to do something that you’ve never seen before.  And if you don’t have a dream, or feel like your dreams are unrealistic, then what’s the point in staying on the grind?

SWH: How do you feel hip-hop helps you to reach youth who have difficulty opening up to adults?

Travis: I see how drastic of a difference there is with the varied approaches to youth on a regular basis.  I actually still work part time as a mental health crisis worker.  I do psychiatric evaluations for people who are suicidal, homicidal, psychotic, or otherwise in emotional distress.  Sometimes I run into teens who won’t talk to the police officers or any of their friends or family.  When I am able to take off my “professional” hat and talk in their language they almost always start to open up to me.  Sometimes I’ll even spit something a-cappella or encourage them to share something creative of their own.  It is pretty simple.  People open up to people they can relate to. Being able to relate to people from different ages, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds is key.

SWH: What future aspiration do you have, and where do you hope this path leads you?

I plan to expand the reach of the message “Achieving Success Against All Odds” into books, audiobooks, hophop CD’s, and training videos.  I recently released my first ever music video for the song “Take Me Away” and plan to produce several more music videos with inspirational messages related to topics that are relevant to youth, social service, child welfare, and mental health advocacy.  As this brand grows, I will expand my company Changing Lives Entertainment to hold hip hop events that make a difference and have a speaker’s bureau for speakers in various markets with similar goals.  Sometime down the road, I will go back to grad school and potentially pursue a doctoral program.  I also have a dream of being the next Dr. Phil.

You can learn more about Travis Lloyd by visiting www.travislloyd.net or visit him on Twitter at @travislloyd

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