Social Work in the Public Eye (July 2008)

LeslieBeth WishLeslieBeth Wish was quoted in USA Today in article about the emotional toll foreclosures can have on people. "The problem affects the whole spectrum, not just people losing their homes," Wish, a psychologist and social worker in Sarasota, Fla., was quoted as saying.

"The stress exacerbates what is already there," Wish told USA Today. "It brings to the surface problems that were often already there, like marital problems. There is so much blaming people for the situations they're in, and that adds to it."

The article pointed out that one of Wish's patients was semiretired when she bought a home in 2005 in southwest Florida as an investment that she hoped to "flip," turning a profit. The woman now owes more than the house is worth and can't sell it.

Wish said her client has developed anxiety, dwelling on her financial situation from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to sleep. Other clients, Wish said, are reporting physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach pains stemming from anxiety over their mortgage situation.

Many other homeowners are at risk of less severe, but still significant, psychological distress, the article pointed out. One in seven homeowners worries that they won't be able to make their mortgage payments on time over the next six months, according to an April Associated Press-AOL Money & Finance poll, and more than one-quarter fear their home will decline in value during the next two years.


Denise Wegeman (no photo) was quoted in the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey in a story that explained how counselors help when a crisis affects a school. The article noted how those in private practice can be called upon at a moment's notice to help deal with sudden tragedies.

In Wegeman's case, the story explained how she helped students deal with the tragic news that their popular principal had been killed in a car accident.

Wegeman, like many school counselors, realizes her role spans beyond helping the students, the story stated. She has been encouraging students to draw pictures or write down thoughts to deal with their grief. But she has also lent an ear to others, including teachers and parents.

"My role here is not only providing support to the children, but also to the staff," Wegeman was quoted as saying. Wegeman works at Point Road School three days a week, while working the other two days as a licensed clinical social worker at her office.


Robin Passariello McHaelen (no photo) , founder and executive director of True Colors, Inc., was selected by the National Education Association (NEA) to receive the 2008 Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights in recognition of her efforts on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) youth.

As the founding director of True Colors, which celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, Passariello McHaelen identified and responded to the needs for better information, improved professional training, advocacy and support to benefit sexual-minority youth and their families in Connecticut.

The NEA said Passariello McHaelen's leadership has been critical to greater understanding, improved awareness and enhanced services becoming available to these youth.


Brij MohanBrij Mohan, professor at the Louisiana State University School of Social Work, has been commissioned as editor-in-chief of the Berkshire International Encyclopedia of Social Development, according to an article published in The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, La.

Mohan will design, edit, select, solicit and write roughly 200 entries on issues and problems concerning global social development, according to the article. The encyclopedia is expected to have a worldwide circulation.

His book Fallacies of Development: Crises of Human and Social Development: The End of Hubris impressed editor Christian Aspalter, who selected and recommended Mohan to Berkshire Global Publishing, the article stated.

The encyclopedia will be an intellectual effort covering the issues, policies and programs concerning social development that can be understood in an international perspective, the article noted.


Melissa RatliffUsing hypnosis as a way to help people was the topic of a story published in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Melissa Ratliff uses hypnotherapy as one tool to help people dealing with traumatic experiences, the story pointed out.

"You're not going to do anything you wouldn't [normally] do," Ratliff said. ". . . You'll remember everything." The hypnotic state has been compared to getting lost in a good book or television program, the story stated.

"When you're driving down the road and you zone out, you know you are on the road, you are aware of your surroundings," Ratliff said. That feeling is comparable to a hypnotic trance.

The American Society of Clinical Hypnotherapy said hypnosis can be used in psychotherapy and physical medicine, including anxiety and stress management, smoking cessation and for treating sleep disorders, trauma, anesthesiology and gastrointestinal disorders, the story explained. Ratliff understands why people are skeptical. She was, too.

"I didn't think I could be hypnotized," she said. The concept is that hypnosis works by reaching into the subconscious mind, rather than the logical, rational conscious mind. "It deals with the emotions," Ratliff said.

Ratliff uses hypnotherapy as part of her therapy practice, in which she primarily works with people who are dealing with the fallout from some kind of trauma. She went through intensive course work and a two-year internship to become an advanced clinical hypnotherapist.

She uses hypnosis techniques to relax the clients and help them access the subconscious. She doesn't give suggestions, but helps people clean out the emotional wounds left behind by traumatic events. Many of her clients are victims of physical or sexual abuse, but trauma can come in many forms, including violence, divorces and other experiences.

Ratliff uses age-regression techniques to let people revisit traumatic events and fully experience the range of emotions they have been bottling up.

"When you're in a car wreck, you don't have time to freak out," she said. "But when emotions are bottled up long-term, they can wreak havoc for some people."

She added later, "People remember what they're ready to remember." Ratliff, who is also trained to do forensic evaluations with children who have been abused, does not use regression techniques on people who are headed to court, the story noted. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy are not generally accepted in legal settings, and she doesn't want to compromise those efforts, according to the story.