Category: SSW News Releases

Professional Education Program Announces Boston Children’s Hospital Partnership

April 5th, 2017 in Professional Education, SSW News Releases

imgresIn partnership with the Boston Children’s Hospital, the Professional Education Programs department has announced the launch of a 12-week certificate program in cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT). CBT is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in many trials for many different disorders. In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy is typically more focused on the present, more time-limited, and more problem-solving oriented, which allows clients to use these problem-solving skills for the rest of their lives.

This introductory level course acquaints participants with the theoretical frameworks and basic practice skills of the evidence-based method. This certificate program covers CBT-based assessment, treatment strategies, and skill application for the treatment of clinical disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and substance abuse.

The program will be directed by Daniel Beck, LICSW, LLC, who is the director of the CBT and Social Work Training Initiative (CASTI) at the BUSSW, and will run from April 19—July 5. Twenty-one social workers at Children’s Hospital are currently enrolled.

“This new partnership would not be possible without the contributions of the instructor, Daniel Beck, and Allison Scobie-Carroll, the Director of the Social Work Department at Boston Children’s Hospital,” said Deborah Sheehan, Director of Professional Education Programs.

BUSSW Hosts First Macro Mixer

March 8th, 2017 in Admissions, Alumni, Events, Faculty, Macro, SSW News Releases, Students


On Wednesday, February 8, the BU School of Social Work Admissions Office hosted its first Macro Matters Mixer, an effort to raise awareness about the macro side of social work and to offer an opportunity for networking amongst various audiences.

Faculty, staff, alumni and current students gathered to mix and mingle with 20 perspective macro students in attendance. The evening provided an opportunity for macro alumni and faculty to share their stories and experiences and for current and perspective students to gain valuable insight and perspective on a career in macro social work. 
Pictured: (Above) Professor Geoff Wilkinson (’85) with Ashley Slay (’16); (Below) Associate Dean Ken Schulman with Mitchell Thomas (’14, SPH’15) and Dan Do (’13, SPH’14)


Special Intergenerational Programming Workshop Provides Interactive Learning Opportunity

March 8th, 2017 in Alumni, Faculty, Field Education, Research, SSW News Releases

On Friday, February 17, MSW and PhD students, field instructors and alumni from BUSSW and Boston College attended a special workshop hosted by Professor Ernest Gonzales and the Lowy-GEM Program at BU School of Social Work.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 3.08.00 PM

Professor Ernest Gonzales co-hosted the workshop

The day-long workshop, “Achieving Health Equity through Intergenerational Programming,” took place in Conant Lounge and provided attendees with an overview of relevant theories, research, and best practices on how to effectively unite older adults and youth through programming. This workshop was presented by BUSSW Professor Ernest Gonzales and Andrea J. Fonte Weaver, Founder and Executive Director of Bridges Together, Inc.

Responding to changes from the organic intergenerational relationships, which existed in previous generations when family members tended to live in close proximity to one another,  intergenerational programs seek to revive those relationships as a means of promoting longevity and health while fostering meaningful connections between youth and older adults.

The workshop focused on the potential role intergenerational programming could play in addressing chronic health conditions, discrimination, and promoting overall health. “As researchers, we’ve done a pretty good job defining health equity. The purpose of this workshop was to take it to the next level and spark intellectual curiosity: What can we do, as social workers, to create win-win solutions for older adults and younger generations? What are the theories and best practices to intergenerational programming that maximize health, economic, and social outcomes fScreen Shot 2017-03-08 at 3.18.54 PMor vulnerable populations? What are the nuts and bolts to conceptualizing, implementing, and evaluating intergenerational programming? Our students absorb a lot of concepts and issues across the social work curricula. The workshop was intended for them to apply that material,” says Professor Gonzales. Several successful programming examples were highlighted, including Experience Corps by AARP, a national volunteer program for at-risk children, and Bridges Together, a program developed by Andrea Fonte Weaver to enhance academic achievement and reduce ageism.  “Each participant left the program with potential models of intergenerational programming that could be applied to enhance the services provided by their particular agency,” said Reeve Goldhaber, Director of Lowy-GEM Program in Aging.

“While most participants were gerontological social work students, some students were focused on children and saw older adults as being part of the solution to an issue,” Gonzales said. “Alumni had concerns stemming from their organizations and wanted the latest evidence on what works. Some students were thinking outside the box and wanted to take intergenerational programming to new areas that focused on awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or housing displacement. I was impressed with the zeal, creativity and seriousness of our participants.”

BUSSW’s Rick Cresta Presents Chronic Marijuana Use in Teens Workshop in Southeastern MA

March 6th, 2017 in Faculty, Off-Campus Programs, SSW News Releases

On February 22, BUSSW’s Rick Cresta led Chronic Marijuana Use in Teens, a workshop for over 70 social workers and mental health professionals working with teenagers, in Southeastern Massachusetts. Chronic Marijuana Use in Teens was sponsored by Old Colony YMCA, a longtime partner of BUSSW and a field placement site for BUSSW students. BUSSW Professional Education Programs and the Off-Campus Program also co-sponsored the event.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 8.36.38 AMThe workshop aimed to explore the effects of marijuana use on adolescents as well as to learn about productive ways to open the conversation with teens. Throughout the workshop, Cresta identified the relationship between brain development and marijuana usage, explored myths about its effects, and discussed the potential risks of chronic marijuana use in adolescents.

As a result of its recent legalization, much of the conversation has shifted towards the potential benefits of smoking marijuana. However, in spite of the positive effects, the developing brain can be permanently damaged by its use. Because adolescents’ brains are more malleable than those of adults, Cresta noted, they are more vulnerable to harm from substances that would otherwise not affect adults. While teenagers might argue that marijuana can help with focus in school or for inspiring creativity, Cresta argued that adolescents run the danger of becoming dependent on the drug to achieve such benefits.

Stressing the importance of discussing marijuana use with teens in a way that will not make them feel targeted, Cresta suggests approaching the subject by allowing them to explain their rationalization for themselves. For example, instead of explicitly stating the negative consequences of smoking, Cresta suggested practitioners ask teens whether they personally have noticed any negative effects as a result of their usage and moving the conversation forward from there. By allowing teenagers to define and explain their usage on their own terms, the hope is that they will grow more willing to talk about the subject honestly. Offering harm reduction tips, replacement activities, and honest information about withdrawal, Cresta explained, will be more effective in treatment planning than simply warning teens about negative effects.

As legislation regarding marijuana continues to evolve, many find it difficult to open up effective and unbiased conversations about its impact. With Chronic Marijuana Use in Teens, Rick Cresta provided practitioners a practical guide for breaching a complicated subject.

BUSSW Welcomes Two New Faculty Members

February 3rd, 2017 in Faculty, SSW News Releases

Eschman1Robert D. Eschmann is completing his PhD at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Eschmann’s research focuses on social media and youth development, urban education reform, the geography of poverty, and adolescent experiences with violence, prejudice, and discrimination. His current work utilizes a sample of high achieving African American males in a violent Chicago neighborhood, and explores the relationship between deviant peer networks, informal social control, and social cohesion. Eschmann has also worked closely with the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community around youth development program design and evaluation. He will join BUSSW’s Human Behavior faculty in the fall.

Judith Scott is completing her PhD in Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University; she has earned her MSW from Boston College and a Master’s in Public Policy from Tufts University. Scott’s research focuses on family- and race-based trauma among children and families across cultures and the effects on child mental health. Her dissertation research, funded by a Doris Duke Fellowship, focuses on childhood physical discipline and child maltreatment among African American families. Scott has also conducted studies on parental disciplinary responses to child noncompliance among racially diverse parents in high-risk communities and on how families prepare youth to deal with discrimination and police harassment. She will join the Clinical Practice Department at BUSSW in the fall.


BUSSW Community Activism in Action

February 3rd, 2017 in SSW News Releases

In solidarity with those who may be affected by actions that are inconsistent with our social work values, our Code of Ethics, and the standards of our profession, BU School of Social Work community members are leading the charge for social justice. 

Following our NASW Code of Ethics, our community has and can continue to “engage in social and political action,” to “advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social justice”, and to “encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally.” This is critical to our mission and our practice–it is inspiring to see that so many in the BUSSW community are already taking action. Continue reading for some of their stories below!

On February 1, the BUSSW Equity & Inclusion Committee gathered with the community for “After the Marches: What’s Next?” Stay tuned for more details on action steps to continue the work towards equity and social justice for all. 

Have you participated in recent social justice actions or marches? Please reach out to us, let us know what you are doing and how we can best support our entire community as we continue to move forward. Click to share your story!

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I marched because I have guilt around Trump being in office. Over the past year, myself and so many other young people started to assume and trust that a Trump presidency would never happen, so we didn’t advocate, protest, or fight as much as we needed to make sure it didn’t happen. Now here we are. So, as a young woman of color, and an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, Muslim-Americans, and any person who is oppressed by the Trump Administration, I knew it is my responsibility to be in D.C. on 1/21/17. No excuses.” — Amy Coole (’18), Women’s March in Washington D.C. 

I marched for so many reasons! I just care so deeply about all of the things that are going on and protesting feels like a solid and concrete way to make changes and defend those whose lives are, have been, and continue to be under attack.” — Maggie Dobbins, Women’s March, Post Election Protest (Boston Commons), BLM Walkout (Marsh Plaza), Protest at Logan Airport

“Donald Trump has made statements that are misogynistic, he has been recorded stating that he sexually assaulted a woman, and various women have claimed that he sexually assaulted them. Further, I have my concerns about the members he’s chosen for his cabinet, and about their commitment to making decisions based on the good of the American public over their own personal gain. Finally, I see Donald Trump as an embodiment of hatred and self-centeredness. I marched because have concerns about his capacity to lead the United States in a positive direction.” — Ryushin Hart, Women’s March in Portland

I marched for those who don’t have a voice, for the woman who inspire others with their bravery. I marched for the younger generation and for equality. I marched for me!!” — Julie Lemire (’09), Women’s March in Boston

“For me this is a no brainer. This is a human rights issue above all else. I am an able bodied white person and I believe those identities give me a certain sense of obligation to use my privilege for justice and basic human decency.” — Thea Rowan (’17), Women’s March, Copley Rally

I believe the most important time to demonstrate your values through action is when they are challenged by events that place them a risk.” — Amanda E.Stevenson Sloan (’92), March in Ashland, Oregon. 

We have to stand up against injustice. We must resist illegal and immoral actions taken by our government. If not now, when? If not us, who?” — Allison B. Taylor (’99), Women’s March in Boston, the rally against the immigration ban in Copley Square 

“I feel compelled to act. I would suggest collaboration with other organizations (i.e.NASW). Now is the time to unify our voices.” — Kristina Whiton-O’Brien (’95), Women’s March in Boston

“It’s critically important for us to take to the streets as we build social movements.  I’ve been attending marches and demonstrations for almost fifty years, but this one was special—not just because of the unprecedented numbers nationwide, but because it was organized by women.  As the proud grandfather of a girl born on Jan. 3, I’m more mindful than ever of the stakes we’re fighting for, from women’s control over their bodies to the very fate of the earth.” — Geoff Wilkinson (’85), BUSSW Clinical Associate Professor

Special Lecture: “The Sociocultural Context of Coping: Homicide Victims and African American Survivors,” with University of Maryland Professor Tanya Sharpe

February 3rd, 2017 in Research, SSW News Releases

On January 24 at the BU Castle, BU School of Social Work welcomed University of Maryland Professor Tanya Sharpe. Sharpe’s lecture, entitled, “The Sociocultural Context of Coping: Homicide Victims and African American Survivors,” focused on her work and research around the African American experience of homicide victimization.
Unknown“My commitment to build a legacy of research is a professional one but also a very personal one,” Sharpe told the audience. “African Americans experience homicide victimization more so than any other group in the United States.”

“When you think about who the majority of homicide victims are (young Black men living in urban areas), when you realize that while African Americans make up only 13% of the US population and yet they account for more than half of homicide victims, when you understand that on average African Americans experience the homicide of a loved one at least two times in their lifetime, you begin to realize that we are dealing with an epidemic that disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable.”

Through the use of qualitative and mixed methods research designs, Sharpe began to develop a culturally-relevant intervention and tool of measurement designed to support African Americans in coping with their grief.

Three research questions guided her work:

  1. What is the post-homicide experience of African American survivors of homicide victims?
  2. What supports do African American survivors rely upon to cope with the homicide of their loved one?
  3. How do African Americans cope with the homicide of a loved one?

Sharpe developed a pilot study with Roberta’s House Grief and Loss Center in Baltimore, called the Homicide Transformation Project. The program provides, “psychoeducation support for African American survivors of homicide victims in coping with the murder of their loved one.” Sharpe said one of the first challenges is getting participants to understand what grief is and how it impacts a person. From there, participants figure out next steps for coping and moving forward.

In 2014, Sharpe was asked to complete a coping with homicide violence training with Baltimore’s Safe Streets outreach program. “[Safe Streets] is built upon a public health model of intervention. The idea for Safe Streets outreach workers, who are individuals who have been involved in a life of crime themselves or are from extremely violent neighborhoods, is to hire them to engage with individuals who are involved in a life of crime or could be. The idea is to interrupt the violence.”

Unknown-1“If you can imagine, the Safe Streets outreach workers—the number of homicides they are surviving,” Sharpe said. “What we realized in this training was that we were just scratching the surface.”

As a result of the needs identified, Sharpe and Safe Streets were able to receive funding to implement the Support Our Survivors project. The project was informed by the model for coping for African American survivors of homicide victims and aims to improve the delivery of trauma-informed care.

In an effort to bring researchers exploring this topic together, Sharpe recently launched a Homicide Research Consortium. The group works collaboratively to submit publications and grant applications. “There are a very small handful of us across the country doing this work,” Sharpe told the audience.

Tanya Sharpe, PhD, MSW, is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Sharpe is the recipient of the Governor of Maryland’s Victim Assistance Award.

BRIDGE Program Graduates Eight

February 2nd, 2017 in BRIDGE, Events, SSW News Releases, Students

On December 12, 2016, friends, family, faculty, alumni, and members of the BUSSW community gathered to celebrate eight special students as they graduated from the Building Refugee and Immigrant Degrees for Graduate Education (BRIDGE) Program.


Recognizing that while immigrants and refugees make numerous contributions to the larger society, they often face significant challenges ranging from language and educational barriers to trauma and multiple forms of discrimination. The BRIDGE program hopes to increase the number of professionally trained social workers from underserved culturally and linguistically diverse newcomer populations, opening up access to graduate social work education for refugees and immigrants by providing a transitional bridge from these ethnic communities to academic communities where social work is taught.

“This is one of our special programs,” Dean Gail Steketee introduced the evening’s celebration, and with 100 percent of the class planning to pursue a master’s and career in social work, ” I am very proud and look forward to seeing where you continue on,” she said.

The evening continued with each graduate sharing their stories of where they’re from, how they came to social work, and their experience in the program:

bridge_2016_grad_party_0161“It has been amazing to be empowered together.”
Karla from Honduras, studied social work as an undergraduate and is currently a case manager.





bridge_2016_grad_party_0464“It felt like a family and a home here.”
Rand from Iran is currently a case manager, working with refugees in Jamaica Plain.





bridge_2016_grad_party_0171“It (the program) was really a bridge for me. It helped me to know where I have to go.”
Alima from the Congo is currently a translator for refugee families and hopes to continue on the be a trained social worker.




“With BRIDGE, I feel grounded and know this is the way to go. My community still needs a lot and it is time for me to use my voice.”
Dulce form Cape Verde came to America in search of better life opportunities and feels like social work is the right field for her.  She currently works with Portuguese and Cape Verdean populations and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.


bridge_2016_grad_party_0209“I always look forward to coming here. I feel like my life has changed- I feel young again.”
Yvette from Haiti sees herself as a activist. While working for the department of revenue, she decided to make changes in terms of what she loved to do and made her way to social work.




bridge_2016_grad_party_0441“I want to make an improvement and be an asset to my community. I want to use the skills that I’ve learned to help others.”
Michael from Brazil studied Human Services at Springfield College and currently works at Boston Medical Center. He has applied to the MSW program and hopes to be a licensed clinical social worker.



bridge_2016_grad_party_0266“It was my calling to help people. I think I’m in the right place.”
Jane from Kenya came to the United States to study and work in special education and believes in the connection between special education and social work. She is sad her time with BRIDGE is ending, but is glad for the opportunity and hope it continues.




bridge_2016_grad_party_0422When Bibiana from Colombia, who currently works as a nurses aide in human services, was taking nursing courses she says, “something wasn’t fitting right.” Her experience in patient care sparked her passion for social work and the BRIDGE Program connected her to BUSSW. When looking at schools she says, “BU stands out,” because of its flexibility. Bibiana has been accepted to the Online MSW Program and will be starting in the Spring.


BRIDGE alumni and BUSSW faculty members Geoff Wilkinson and Luz Lopez offered their congratulations and advice to the graduates. “Don’t be afraid to go for it – the classroom is enriched by your experience,” said Lopez. The evening concluded with a certificate presentation ceremony, celebrating the graduates achievements and completion of the program.

“The lives and work experiences of these BRIDGE students have prepared them well for this next step in their educational journey. They will become great social workers committed to continue supporting diverse and underserved communities,” said Claudio Martinez, Co-Director of the BRIDGE Program. Congratulations to the graduates and well wishes as you continue on your journeys in social work!



BUSSW Dean Steketee Releases Statement on Immigration Executive Order

February 2nd, 2017 in SSW News Releases

Our School of Social Work stands in solidarity with those caught in the crossfires of the United States President’s recent Executive Order restricting entry into the United States and blocking resettlement programs for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. These actions are inconsistent with our social work values, our Code of Ethics, and the standards of our profession. 

This past Sunday, Boston University President Robert Brown issued a statement to the entire BU community describing the Executive Order as, “fundamentally inconsistent with the values that are the bedrock of Boston University and, indeed, of our pluralistic, welcoming society.” Please read his letter in full here. On Monday, January 30, University President Brown also published an op-ed detailing the potential impact of this Executive Order, “Trump’s Travel Ban Diminishes Our Nation,” in The Boston Globe.

Many of our community members, including students, part-time faculty, advisors, those at our field placement sites, alumni, and families are affected by these new unjust policies–whether through travel restrictions, inability to seek safety, or fear and anxiety about themselves and their loved ones. Our community is here to support you however we can. 

I invite BUSSW students in all of our programs to reach out to Director of Student Services Cate Solomon with any questions or concerns about student resources and supports. Available campus resources include the International Students & Scholars Office and the Global Programs Office, which are monitoring ongoing developments.

In the days since the Executive Order, many members of our student body, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators have found ways big and small to resist, to speak up, to stand up, and to join in solidarity within members of our vibrant and diverse communities. I encourage you to continue to take action–call and write your legislators, participate in organized marches or rallies and/or other social action activities in your communities and make your voices heard.

Following our NASW Code of Ethics, our community can continue to “engage in social and political action,” to “advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social justice”, and to “encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally.” This is critical to our mission and our practice–it is inspiring to see that so many of you are already taking action. 

As social justice leaders, I am confident that you will continue your work on behalf of equity and social justice for all. Please reach out to us, let us know what you are doing and how we can best support our entire community as we continue to move forward.

Q&A with Erika Gaitan ’13, City Year Scholar

December 2nd, 2016 in Alumni, Macro, SSW News Releases

Each year, Boston University School of Social Werika-gaitan-headshotork (BUSSW) offers three scholarships to a City Year member or alumnus who provided at least one year of service to City Year.  Texas-native Erika Gaitan ’13 was selected from an international pool of candidates for a BUSSW “Give a Year” Scholarship for outstanding academic merit and commitment to service in her graduating year.

Erika began working full-time at Health Resources in Action as a Research Associate. Currents caught up with Erika to learn more about how her City Year experience propelled her into the field of social work.

Why did you choose Boston University School of Social Work?
Originally, I got into the program in 2012 actually. I was really drawn to the school’s mission and I knew I was going to be a macro person. BU’s faculty in macro practice were really people I wanted to work with—professors like Lee Staples and Melvin Delgado. But I couldn’t afford to attend at that time, so I deferred.

So, you took some time off to complete a year of service with City Year?
I met Ken Schulman (Associate Dean) at a BUSSW event in Austin, Texas. He recommended applying to the City Year program and told me about the scholarship opportunity for alumni of the program. I got in [to City Year] and decided to take the opportunity—I was really passionate about educational equity and City Year seemed like the perfect route. I wanted to get more experience in education reform and community practice. I participated in City Year in San Antonio from 2012-2013.

What was your initial transition to BU like?
Moving to the East Coast and Boston specifically really forced me to confront myself. I mean, the weather, the language, moving from a minority-majority state… all of these things propelled me forward. I really became more interested in race, identity, and intersectionality after moving here.

What interests you about macro practice?
I really enjoy looking at things from the balcony—bigger picture stuff. I’m definitely a strategic thinker. And I’m also interested in the management side of things—which is why I decided to pursue a Human Services Management Certificate here at BUSSW. I think combining the values of social work with a fact for business—to be equipped with those skills is a great asset. I always tell prospective students to look into the Human Services Management Certificate!

Why’s that?
You take all of your electives over at the School of Management. It’s just very interesting to be sitting in courses with folks from such a different background—to be able to get that experience, it’s very useful. Plus, you still pay SSW tuition! 

Did you have a favorite SSW course?
I really loved Melvin Delgado’s Planning and Program Development Seminar—it was an intimate class and he really has a way of explaining things. I really respect the work that he does. Another class I really loved was Racial Justice with Michelle Walsh.

Outside of the classroom, what kinds of work were you involved in?
I was a research assistant at the Boston University Center for Addictions Research & Services.  One project I was working on with examining how technology can reduce relapse among Latinos with substance abuse and mental illness with Renee Spencer. I was a Program Coordinator at Zumix—an East Boston nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth through music. I was actually a music major at Texas State—I played the saxophone. I enjoy working with kids and getting them to be civically engaged and think more critically about the world around them.

Boston University School of Social Work Partnership with City Year
Each year, Boston University School of Social Work offers three scholarships to a City Year member or alumnus who provided at least one year of service to City Year.  City Year is an education-focused nonprofit organization, based in Boston that partners with high need public schools to provide full-time targeted student interventions.