Clinician’s Corner 2020 | Everyday Justice: Cultivating Intentional Connection

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Clinician's Corner 2020Welcome to our third installment of the Clinician’s Corner. Our Institute developed Clinician’s Corner as an effort to connect social work practice and research in a two-way conversation. By cultivating this intentional connection through our work, we aim to highlight the importance of social work practice as it informs research inquiry, and also share the ways in which research findings inform effective social work practice. Social work researchers and clinicians have the same goal of improved wellbeing for our clients and communities. It was for this reason that Clinician’s Corner was developed to honor that goal by opening up dialog, creating shared language and understanding, and asking what we all need to know more about.

Our first edition of Clinician’s Corner examined the latest on the research and intervention related to Adverse Childhood Experiences, and our second edition delved deeply into the benefits and challenges of evidence-based practice. For this 2020 edition, our staff decided to explore research and practice related to integrating social justice into our everyday actions.

Our team has always felt strongly that social justice is an area that is pivotal to address with practitioners and researchers in order to have a meaningful impact on client and community wellbeing. Of course, this year has reaffirmed that belief. Both COVID-19 and the continued violence against Black Americans exposes inequities related to race, ethnicity, and income that go far beyond what is currently being covered in the news.

Despite our long-held commitment to social justice, we first and foremost acknowledge that we are learners more than we are experts, and hope that this edition reflects our continued dedication to listening, learning, and advocating as a part of the ongoing larger movement to address social injustices.

In this 2020 edition of Clinician’s Corner, we have continued our tradition of including thoughts and experiences from practitioners in our community. In February of this year, we held our annual child welfare conference. This conference is geared towards practitioners and clinicians working directly with children and families. In an effort to bring in more contributions from the front lines, this year we asked our 220 attendees to respond to two questions: “How do you seek justice in your daily life?” and “How do you practice social justice in your work with children and families?” Throughout this digest we have included their amazing responses.

The content of Clinician’s Corner 2020 is divided into three sections familiar to social work practice: Self, Clients and Systems. Each section explores social justice from a different lens, and provides guidance for practitioners and researchers.

Self: This section focuses on how the practitioner can begin this work within themselves, which prepares them to promote social justice in a larger context. Sarah Sloan shares how to re-engage with your social justice values when the going gets tough. Adam McCormick explores implicit bias within our profession, while Ana Vidina Hernández, Jillian Severinski, Anayeli Marcos, and Dora Gonzales ask us to reconceptualize our role as helpers, using examples from their work with asylum-seekers at our Texas-Mexico border.

Clients: How do we lean into social justice when working with our clients? We begin this section with an interview with Scott Sells who provides us with practical tools to use within the client-practitioner relationship, and Jolynne Batchelor shares applicable ways we can incorporate social justice into practice while working with families in the child welfare system.

Systems: In this section, we explore ways to increase social justice within already existing systems. We begin with several voices from the Black Mamas Community Collective, where Michele Rountree, Nakeenya Wilson, and Joyce James share how they are working to address maternal health disparities systemically. Jennifer Lawson provides guidance on how to use program evaluation as a conduit for social justice. Tanya Rollins asks us to reconsider how we engage with pre-existing communities, and our Institute Director, Monica Faulkner, closes our 2020 edition with an outline on how to bring shared leadership into an organization.

We want to extend a special thank you to all of our contributors for sharing their time and expertise during these extremely trying times. And we want to thank you, our readers, for joining us on this journey to re-commit ourselves to finding new and improved ways to transition our social justice values into everyday action. While we know it is a challenging journey potentially filled with risk, discomfort, and mistakes, we think it is worth it to join in the conversation to better impact the wellbeing of our clients and communities.

Beth Gerlach, Ph.D., LCSW

Associate Director, Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing


We’re now on Medium!

You can view all of the articles on the public publishing platform Medium. To see and share Clinician’s Corner online, click on any of the articles below:

Letter from our Associate Director
Social Justice Within The Self

This section focuses on how the practitioner can begin this work within themselves, which prepares them to promote social justice in a larger context.

Pulling Back The Covers: Making a personal commitment to reengage in social justice
By Sarah K. Sloan, LCSW-S
Sarah Sloan shares how to re-engage with your social justice values when the going gets tough.
Read it here.

Invisible Car Seats: Examining our implicit biases as social workers
By Adam McCormick, Ph.D., MSSW
Adam McCormick explores implicit bias within the social work profession as a way to enhance our capacity for inclusivity and affirmation.
Read it here.

Let Us Work Together: Shared humanity as a tool to dismantle oppression in our immigration system
By Ana Vidina Hernández, MSSW, MA; Anayeli Marcos, MSSW Student; Jillian Severinski, MSSW Student; and Dora Gonzalez, LMSW
In this article, our authors ask us to reconceptualize our role as helpers, using examples from their work with asylum-seekers at our Texas-Mexico border.
Read it here.

Social Justice With Our Clients

This section explores the central question: how do we lean into social justice when working with our clients?

“What could I have done differently?” Empowering clients through the use of several practical tools: An interview with Scott Sells
Interview by Allie Long
In this interview, Scott Sells provides us with practical tools to use within the client-practitioner relationship.
Read it here.

Five Principles for Building a Socially Just Child Welfare System
By Jolynne Batchelor, Ph.D., LCSW
Jolynne Batchelor shares applicable ways we can incorporate social justice into practice while working with families in the child welfare system.
Read it here.

Social Justice Within Systems

This section  explores ways to increase social justice within already existing systems.

Showing Up For Black Mothers: How one organization is taking a holistic approach towards maternal health disparities
By Allie Long
Michele Rountree, Nakeenya Wilson, and Joyce James share how they are working to address maternal health disparities systemically at the Black Mamas Community Collective.
Read it here.

Program Evaluation: So much more than an evidence building tool
By Jennifer Lawson, Ph.D., MSSW
Jennifer Lawson provides guidance on how to use program evaluation as a conduit for social justice.
Read it here.

Sitting at the Same Table: Thoughts on reshaping how our systems engage with community
By Tanya N. Rollins, MSW
Tanya Rollins asks us to reconsider how we engage with pre-existing communities.
Read it here.

Avoiding the Hero Trap: How to be brave through shared leadership within an organization
By Monica Faulkner, Ph.D., LMSW
Our Institute Director, Monica Faulkner, closes our 2020 edition with an outline on how to bring shared leadership into an organization.
Read it here.