Good News for Macro Practice?

There may be good news on the horizon for social workers who appreciate the need for our profession to be more involved with influencing institutions and policies. The Association for Community Organizing and Social Administration’s (ACOSA) Special Commission to Advance Macro Practice in Social Work expects to release a report and proposals this year on ways to strengthen social work macro practice. The formation of the commission was spurred by a report, Education for Macro Intervention: A Survey of Problems and Prospects, by the venerable Dr. Jack Rothman. The Rothman report garnered a great deal of attention because it documented how little attention has been given to macro practice in social work. And that macro practice instructors often felt marginalized in social work programs. Social work leaders coalesced around the critical and timely need to address these issues and created the special commission.

St Thomas Univ. at Social Work Day at the Capital
St Thomas Univ. at Social Work Day at the Capital

Once again, social work is wrestling with the tension between cause and function—how much resources and energy should be devoted to addressing the structural causes of what ails society’s most vulnerable citizens versus efforts to help these citizens cope with their various sets of circumstances. What is encouraging is this appears to a credible effort to systematically examine the state of macro practice and arrive at some proposals for real change.

The special commission is being co-chaired by Dr. Darlyne Bailey, dean of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College, and Dr. Terry Mizrahi, professor and chair of Community Organizing and Program Development, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and former president of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). To date, it has received financial support from 40 schools and departments of social work and two organizations.

At issue is how much attention and resources can be devoted to macro social work practice given the overwhelming emphasis on licensing and direct services in most schools and departments of social work? Social work schools value instructors who teach courses that prepare students for licensing exams. Rothman found in his research that schools will use adjunct instructors for macro courses and reserve the bulk of their tenured positions for micro practice educators. As a result, students gravitate to micro practice because they believe this area of focus gives them the best chance for employment after graduation.

Another concern for macro practitioners is the issue of licensing. If macro practice were to grow as a share of social work there would undoubtedly be increased pressure to professionalize this specialization. Dr. Linda Plitt Donaldson and colleagues wrote in Social Work that licensing macro practice is a complicated enterprise because of the current state of variations in licensing requirements among states. Currently only three states (Michigan, Missouri, and Oklahoma) offer licenses in advanced macro practice. Given the broad range of macro practice would there be different standards for administration, community organizing, and policy? Licensing is generally seen as a means to protect the public from poorly trained practitioners. Would the same concern apply to a policy analyst who rarely interacts with the general public?

These are some of the tough issues the special commission will be grappling with going forward. What is clear in this ever changing society we live in—new technologies, graying population, transforming demographics, growing inequalities—decisions are being made in various policy deliberations and social workers need to be at the table. Gentrification and immigration are reorganizing communities and social workers need to be in the mix. We are not going to be able to “fix” people to deal with their environments, we need to be fully engaged in helping to shape their environments.

This is not a zero sum proposition. Expanding macro practice does not mean reducing the emphasis on micro practice. There will still be a need to improve the image of the profession generally and increase compensation to attract more direct service providers. By expanding macro practice, we may expand the pool and some who enter for macro practice will find micro practice more to their liking as well.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of St. Thomas University

How to Incorporate Google Places and Virtual 360 Tours to Promote Your Business

In a competitive market, small businesses are always looking for creative ways to give them an edge with consumers. Google has devised two services that businesses should immediately take advantage of in order to help drive traffic to their websites and physical locations. Any business with a physical office space can easily add their location to Google Places at no cost which also integrates with ease to other free Google services such as Google Plus Business Pages and Google Maps.

Google experts suggests that businesses registered with Google services are ranked in search results higher than unregistered businesses. For a more established business that may not have registered, Google also offers the ability for businesses to claim their Google maps listing to encourage them to register for Google Places and create a Google Plus Business Page. Once you have successfully added your business to Google, you may be interested in adding Google’s Virtual 360 Tours to help you stand out even further in search results.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview private practice therapist E. Kelly from Norwalk, Connecticut. She shares her experience in implementing a virtual tour to help engage potential clients to choose her practice, and here is our discussion.

SWH: Tell us a bit about your background and your practice? 

EK: I am a Connecticut licensed marriage and family therapist in a private practice.  I achieved a Masters Degree is in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fairfield University in Connecticut.  My undergraduate B.A. degree is from Hunter College in NYC with a concentration in biology and psychology.

As both an intern and extern, I worked within many not for profit organizations.  I learned a lot about myself during that time which fostered strong desire for independence and continuing to create my own vision of helping and healing. I had done it with my past career and was determined to do it again which led me to take a  leap of faith in creating my own private practice.

SWH: How are you using technology to market and promote your practice?

E. Kelly, LMFT Norwalk CT - Google SearchEK: In my early days of private practice, I paid money to a well known host of a commercial therapy website provider.  They were and still are the most well known. I do not regret hiring them then as their template was helpful and many clients suggested that they chose me because of the exposure and the professionalism of such site.

However, it is a monthly fee and once you are established and/or have enough notoriety in your local area, you can create your own site for less than a third of the monthly cost.  After a few years of such hosting costs, I decided to again take a risk and hire someone to  create my own unique site.

I googled a local restaurant in my area because I was never there, and I saw the restaurant had an option to see inside. I quickly learned how to take a virtual tour. I never been to the restaurant, but  I loved looking around to imagine my experience there – and, yes, It was indeed just perfect for my needs. It was then, at that very moment that it dawned on me:

If patrons of restaurants want to see where they may intimately dine…THEN why wouldn’t chance to LOOK and SEE a practice area where they are going to share an intimate story?

I thought about it for a while, and I searched more local sites to see what was happening.  I saw interior shots of dentists offices, retail shops, dog groomers, hair salons, automobile shops, etc. and, I thought WHY am I waiting to show clients my space?

Really, why not give my clients a chance to see my space too?  After all, I proudly created a space with lots of light and one that was conducive to positive thinking – so, if the GOOGLE guy could do a tour of MY space – well, maybe, just maybe – it’s the best way for potential clients to decide if they like my space tool

SWH: How difficult was implementing Google Places and the Virtual 360 Tours?

EK: Not hard at all. I search for Google certified photographers who did Virtual 360 Tours.  Buyer beware,  if they aren’t listed by Google, they are not approved. It’s that simple, and you can also use this link to find a certified Google Photographer in your city.

Prices may vary, but total cost to me was $500.  Once you purchase the shoot, you have the right to use it in any promotional material you want including your own website and/or social pages as you own the rights to all photos.

This is a service that Google offers 24 hours a day/7 days a week at no cost. No click charges, no monthly charges, no annual charges.

AND, if you want to see my tour – GOOGLE THIS “E. Kelly, LMFT Norwalk CT” and see how Virtual 360 Tours work.

E. Kelly Therapy Virtual 360 Tour

Don’t Follow the Rules When You Can Change the Rules: Fierceness of Jane Addams

Jane Addams is known for being the mother of social work. However, she did not fit the image of the “traditional” lady of her time. She was seen as radical, bold, and unconventional in a time when women were not allowed to vote. People like Jane Addams and the women of Hull House did the unthinkable and advocated for themselves and others.

women-rightsJane Addams practiced what is known today as macro practice social work. Macro practice does not follow the rules, it changes the rules. Somehow social work has gotten soft along the way.

The profession has abandoned its mission of building the “infrastructure of society” and left the responsibility to people outside the profession. As a result, the rules were changed and so has the focus. We can see this in the language used in social work today.  Many times social work is mentioned as the “safety net” of society.

Jane Addams was against seeing her work as “charity” she saw it as “lateral progress” or “civic housekeeping.” Instead, she saw her work as an investment in society and stated, “I am always sorry to have Hull House regarded as philanthropy.” Jane Addams believed the progress of society was measured not by the elite, but by the “weakest link.” This view is still not popular, and we are still playing by the rules that people “need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”

We could all be inspired by Jane Addams because she was a fierce pioneer who was not afraid to go against social norms. She did not wait for change to happen, and this is what our society needs to help facilitate change. Advocacy and community organizing inspire growth and progress however many times this means challenging the status quo.

It’s time for the social work profession to stop being led and start leading society again.

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