Social Work in the Public Eye (May 2010)

Steven Huberman (no photo) , dean of Touro College’s Graduate School of Social Work, was quoted in an article produced by the school that highlighted a recent community day program called “Social Work on the Front Lines: The Role of Social Work in Today’s Military.” The event was presented by the school. Huberman joined others in delivering the opening remarks.

The article quoted Omar Domenech, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, who spoke to around 150 people, mostly students and faculty at Touro’s Graduate School of Social Work.

“In the military, the soldier’s mind becomes conditioned to believe that it’s a sign of weakness to reach out for help,” Domenech, a Purple Heart recipient, said in the article. “Enlisted men and women think that asking for help will hinder their chances at getting promoted. Social workers need to enforce to the military chain of command that it’s OK for a soldier to ask for help, that acknowledging you need help makes you a stronger person.”

He went on to say, “I am proud to be here today, both as a veteran and as a student at Touro. But most importantly, I came here today to let other returning veterans know that help is available and that the American people care.”

The article noted that in response to a growing need for social workers, the Graduate School of Social Work will be offering a course on “Military Social Work” this year, designed to train social workers in ways to counsel veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Huberman said, “There has been a huge influx of vets returning home to the U.S. and this course will examine how the war has impacted their lives and the lives of their families.” He noted that in the three years since the school opened, the MSW program has grown to 170 students.


Karen I. Fredriksen-GoldsenKaren I. Fredriksen-Goldsen, associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work and director of the Institute for Multigenerational Health, has been awarded a major grant to conduct a ground-breaking study of health disparities, aging and care giving among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender elders.

The pioneering project will advance knowledge and understanding of health disparities and the risk and protective factors impacting both physical and mental health outcomes among GLBT adults age 50 and older and their informal caregivers. Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Aging, this project is expected to generate new scholarship and knowledge on health and aging within historically disadvantaged communities. Such a knowledge base will contribute to the design of interventions to reduce adverse health consequences within GLBT populations and support capacity building for the dissemination of related service and policy-relevant knowledge. Co-investigators on the project are Charles Emlet, Elena Erosheva, Karina Walters, Nancy Hooyman and Hyun-Jun Kim.


Three social workers were part of Woman’s Day’s “50 Women Who are Changing the World” series. The magazine honored Phyllis Greenberger (no photo) for “Changing e World by Improving the Health of Women.”

“Greenberger is a temendous advocate for the improvement of women’s lives through medical research,” the article explained. “As president and CEO of Washington, D.C.’s Society for Women’s Health Research, Greenberger has emphasized the importance of biological sex differences in researching the general improvement of human health.” Greenberger has been quoted by prominent news sources and has testified before Congress in tireless efforts to increase funding for women’s health, the story stated.

Suze Orman (no photo) was recognized for “Changing the World by Getting Every Woman Financially Fit.” Orman is a personal finance expert dedicated to the financial empowerment of women, the article reported. She has proved herself as a self-made magnate, extending her empire beyond The Suze Orman Show and her New York Times bestselling books; she’s also a motivational speaker and contributing editor to O: The Oprah Magazine. She’s won a record six Gracie Awards and was recognized with the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign in 2008, the article stated.

Terrie Williams (no photo) was noted for “Changing the World by Helping the African American Community Cope with Depression.”

A clinical social worker turned public relations company president, Terrie Williams seeks to “save the world” through philanthropic advances, Woman’s Day said. “Taking a strong interest in African-American youth, Williams established the Stay Strong Foundation in conjunction with writing Stay Strong: Simple Life Lessons for Teens, a book and practical guide for today’s young adults and has since emerged as a prominent advocate for increasing awareness of depression.”


Janet EspositoJanet Esposito was profiled in the Litchfield County Times in Connecticut and other local newspapers about her second book on ways to overcome stage fright and fear of public speaking and performing.

Esposito specializes in performance anxiety. She explained how she got started in the field: She experienced a severe case of stage fright in graduate school.

“I decided enough was enough,” she said and studied up on ways to overcome her fears. She eventually hosted workshops and began a Web site: In The SpotLight!, the article explained.

“I have had a lot of people who say, ‘I have excelled in so many ways in my life, and this is the one thing that I can’t get past,’ and it’s very frustrating because they know it’s an overreaction,” Esposito said. “And that’s my specialty — helping people where that is an issue for them.”

The article pointed out that she continues to host workshops across the country while also continuing her clinical practice in Danbury, Conn.

She also offered insight into ways to overcome anxiety of speaking before an audience.

“You have to get past yourself, because a lot of the self consciousness is that we pay too much attention to ourselves,” she said. “I really want to continue to coach people because I love coaching.”


Gilberto Pérez Jr. (no photo) was quoted in the News Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Ind., in an article about the stress of being an immigrant teenager.

The story pointed out that Fort Wayne’s immigrant teenage population is on the rise. In an effort to help them, local organizations and individuals had a chance to learn about a program geared toward improving the mental health of immigrant teenagers.

The National League of Cities in 2009 chose Fort Wayne as a pilot city for the program from Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration (MAII), the story said.

The city of Fort Wayne’s Hispanic and Immigrant Liaison, MAII and the Northeastern Center’s Bienvenido Program partnered to bring facilitator training to Fort Wayne for a one-day workshop.

The Bienvenido Program was started at the Northeastern Center, a community mental-health center in northeastern Indiana, in 2003 to address the mental-health needs of the Latino population in Ligonier and Noble County.

The center was originally for adults but now has two programs; the adult program and one specifically for teens, the story explained.

“It is better to try and connect the teen with someone they trust,” said Pérez, Bienvenido’s program director. The eight-week sessions attempt to create a positive mental health atmosphere where participants can engage in a series of group activities.

“You need to create an environment where they can motivate each other,” Pérez said. Before the eight-week session is over, facilitators must come up with a project that will take the group members beyond their circle. This helps the participants reach into the community and connect, the story noted.


Carol ConklinCarol Conklin was quoted in The Buffalo News about sex addiction. Conklin specializes in the issue and noted that about 80 percent of her clients are male.

“They use sex to cope with stress,” Conklin said in the article. “People addicted to sex have a hard time being alone. They always want company. That’s when they’ll get on the Internet or on the phone sexting. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep that sexual energy going.”

The story noted that the Mayo Clinic estimates that sex addiction affects 3 percent to 6 percent of adults in the United States.

Research indicated that 85 percent of sex addicts reported sexual or emotional abuse as children. Their parents were rigid and strict, Conklin explained, with little human connection.

“Sex addicts can be very hard to get to know,” she said. “There can be a high level of adult attention deficit syndrome, where they need a high degree of novelty.”

Combine the quest for novelty with the illusion of anonymity, and it’s easy to see why the Internet is called the crack cocaine of sex addiction, the story said.

Visiting online sex sites is seductive, easy and anonymous, said Conklin.

“I’ve had people who spend 20 to 30 hours a week on cyber sex,” she said. “It’s an overwhelmingly powerful pleasure. Sex addicts keep things secret, hidden and compartmentalized.”

Treatment focuses on controlling the addictive behavior and helping the person develop a healthy sexuality. It does not eliminate sex. The 12-step programs, stressing group therapy and other components that parallel Alcoholics Anonymous, are a popular form of treatment, the story said.


The New York Times published a letter to the editor written by Mimi Abramovitz (no photo), a professor of social policy at Hunter College School of Social Work and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. The letter was in response to a “safety net” series in the Times titled “Living on Nothing but Food Stamps.”

Abramovitz said that economic hard times have thrown more men, white people and two-parent households into poverty. As the nation discovers that people fall into poverty because of economic forces beyond their control, there seems to be more sympathy and understanding to go around, her letter said.

“Let’s hope this generosity of spirit outlasts the current downturn and spreads from the new poor to all the poor — especially since middle-class families and major corporations also take government benefits that cost taxpayers plenty but don’t think of themselves as on the dole,” she wrote.