Social Work in the Public Eye (April 2008)

Donald H. MoeserThe Rev. Donald H. Moeser wrote an article for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch's observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Moeser's piece detailed his meetings with King. "As a clergyman and a social worker serving an interracial, inner-city Lutheran Church in Newark, N.J., I became involved in the civil rights movement as an advocate on behalf of my parishioners and other oppressed people in my community," Moeser wrote.

Later, he stated that he, along with other clergy, attended the ceremony in Washington, D.C., when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into federal law. He was also fortunate at the last minute to be allowed in the room where Johnson signed the bill. King was also in attendance. Moeser was able to be among the audience members to shake the hands of Johnson and King after the ceremony.

"While he lived, MLK declared the American practice of racism was a 'nightmare' for people of color, and he proposed a 'dream' of equality and justice to which his people and all of us non-black persons might aspire," Moeser said in the article.


Bob Livingstone (no photo), who has a private practice in San Francisco, was quoted in a story about how best to cope with coworkers under stress in a story published in the Hartford Courant in Connecticut.

The story pointed out that although there may be established methods to reduce personal stress, there do not seem to be many options for helping a co-worker. Instead, there's a smattering of tactics to consider when situations arise, the story stated.

It went on to quote several specialists in behavioral health and business, including Livingstone, on possible solutions.

"Don't only allow the person to vent, but help make plans about how she can actually decrease the stress," Livingstone, a clinical social worker, said in the article. "Talking can lead to the sharing of empathy . . . [about the] anger, frustration, fatigue and sadness. This demonstrates that you understand what is happening. For example, you might say, 'I am so tired from all of this work that I haven't had time to have any fun. Do you feel the same way I do?' This might open the door for further discussion."


Donna HooperA story published in the Daily Record in Morris County, N.J. profiled clinical social worker Donna Hooper and her approach to helping clients by using equine-assisted psychotherapy.

Hooper has a traditional practice, but has been trained in equine-assisted psychotherapy, the story pointed out. Clients are assigned tasks, such as leading the horse from one side of an arena to another, as a way to build their confidence and take a new look at how to do things, the story stated.

"Horses are good at mirroring the human personality, reflecting back what we are thinking," Hooper was quoted as saying. "Horses do a lot of the work to bring out things in people."

Along with her father and sister, Hooper has been a competitive rider for most of her life.

Hooper works with children, adults and families who are dealing with anger, anxiety, bereavement, learning disabilities, parenting skills, sexuality, conditions such as bipolar disorder, job loss, or self-destructive behaviors such as addictions.

Using the horses, if the client agrees, is a way to change the dynamic of the therapist-client relationship, she said in the article.

"Whatever they figure out in the activity with the horse, they take back to the classroom or their own life," Hooper said.

"We use the horses because many people are afraid of them," she said. "It is an incredible accomplishment for them to be able to go up to this 1,200-pound horse, put a halter on it and lead it back."


Jack RothmanJack Rothman, a professor emeritus at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Public Affairs who specializes in community organizing, had an opinion column published on the Huffington Post Website on Feb. 2 concerning the presidential primaries.

"I've set out three different modes for bringing about change in my work as an academic and community organizer. I think they illuminate the primary campaign, because each of the three main Democratic candidates [three as of Feb. 2] embraced one of these change strategies," he stated in the article. "Let's call the modes Policy Design, Capacity Development, and Social Advocacy."

He went on to explain how he saw Hillary Clinton as embracing the Policy Design mode. This is a strategy that relies on experience, expertise and hard data to foster change, he said.

On the other hand, Rothman suggested that Capacity Development is Barack Obama's preferred change mode, which emphasizes communication and collaboration across political and racial divides to forge a common good and form a more civil union.

"The thrust of this strategy is the empowerment of communities through wide participation — energizing people to act on their own behalf in choosing goals and taking action, making use of a bottom-to-top process of decision making," Rothman wrote.

The Social Advocacy mode that Rothman believes John Edwards embodied takes sides, he said. "This mode lines up in favor of the disadvantaged and applies pressure against those in power to adjust the distribution of society's bounty," he said.


Nancy PearceNancy Pearce was recently interviewed by several radio stations, including ABC's Radio Disney, the National Health Radio Network, and United News and Information, as part of her effort to better inform the public about general misconceptions of people afflicted with dementia.

As a clinical social worker who works and writes about dementia care, Pearce states in her message that although each person's ability to reach out in familiar ways certainly diminishes with the progression of the disease, "he or she is always able to experience the joy and satisfaction that comes from being in a vital relationship with others."

Pearce was recently published in All About Seniors magazine where she went into detail about ways to help those with dementia. "Connecting with the person who has dementia is a challenge because she progressively forgets the rules for connecting in familiar ways," Pearce wrote. Oftentimes, if a connection is going to occur, it's up to the people around the person with dementia to take the first step.