Letters to the Editor (June 2009)

Interdisciplinary Input

It is very interesting that NASW has to urge the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to include clinical social workers to participate in the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) [April 2009]. Since clinical social workers are the largest providers of mental health services in the U.S., it is hard to understand why the APA has to be "urged " to include our profession in the various work and oversight groups. It would appear that this should be obvious. DSM -IV has been controversial for many reasons including that it did not consider all aspects of the etiology of psychiatric problems.

One would think that the APA would value interdisciplinary input to be inclusive as possible of the biological, genetic, psychological, social and cultural aspects of psychiatric problems. This requires the input of all the mental health professions so that a manual is developed that has the maximum potential to benefit all patients and so that diagnoses can lead to more effective psychotherapeutic and biological interventions.

Phillip L. Elbaum, LCSW
Deerfield, Ill.


No Need for Forgiveness

I was pleased to note the launch of the NASW Loan Forgiveness Web site as reported in the April 2009 NASW News. I would however take issue with the term "forgiveness." The word forgiveness is commonly used to describe the act of excusing a mistake or offense. Debt incurred in the course of completing a social work degree is neither a mistake nor an offense. Rather, it is typically a very intentional decision made in the interest of improving the human condition.

The cost to society of underwriting social work education pales in the face of recent financial sector "bailouts" where forgiveness is more appropriately indicated. Our profession need not ask forgiveness for a well-reasoned and honorable choice to work for the betterment of society. Alternatives to "forgiveness" for the social work profession would be terms such as waiver, relief or exemption.

Ron Shoemaker, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
Goshen, Ind.