Social Work in the Public Eye: June / July 2021

Roberta Greene

Resiliency is not an elusive goal or character trait.

“It is a naturally occurring phenomenon,” says NASW member Roberta Greene, a clinical social worker and professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. “All people are resilient to certain degrees.”

Greene was quoted in a Time magazine article on the key to building resilience in a crisis. She urges people to consider what can be positive about their future, and what actions have helped them weather difficult events in the past.

“Often people have their own solutions and haven’t thought of returning to them,” Greene says in the article.

A way people can empower themselves is by trying new things, like playing a new musical instrument or taking a class. This can help people prove to themselves that they are capable of growth and change.

Erin Brandel Dykhuizen

The feeling that the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will never end has grown common.

Fortunately, there is a tool to change that, says NASW member Erin Brandel Dykhuizen, MSW, LICSW, whose website offers more information and resources. In a column she writes for the Community Reporter in the St. Paul, Minn., area, Dykhuizen says she has learned the benefits of “thought defusion.”

It is a way to get distance from our thoughts, so that when they are not helpful we don’t keep buying into them, she says. For example, the thought “this will never end,” is objectively unhelpful. “It is also not true—things always change, and furthermore there is evidence of declining infection rates across Minnesota and the country that suggest change is on its way,” she says.

Dykhuizen offers several techniques in the column to distance ourselves from unhelpful thoughts.

Sonya Belletti

The fear and lingering uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus pandemic can exacerbate the issue of kids shrugging off their chores, according to a Washington Post article.

NASW member Sonya Belletti, a clinical social worker in Coral Springs, Fla., is quoted in the article.

“When you are doing activities and going to school, your chores are time-limited,” she says. “When you are at home, there is always something to do. It’s almost never-ending. It feels pointless. I’m doing this now, and it’s going to be there again to be done in an hour. It’s like a never-ending loop.”

Belletti believes when children avoid chores it may be related to trying to gain a sense of control. “Children don’t get very many empowering moments,” she says.

The story offers advice from experts to address the issue, including doing chores together with your children.

Paula Zerfoss

Dating apps remain a popular method of mingling on campus during the pandemic, according to students at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.

NASW member Paula Zerfoss, LCSW, a couples’ therapist in Asheville, said dating relationships have changed depending on if people met before or during the pandemic.

She sees people rushing relationships because of the quarantine and it leads to positive or negative outcomes for couples, she says in a story posted at The Blue Banner, UNC Asheville's biweekly student newspaper.

Zerfoss stressed the importance of learning patience for relationships and to set boundaries if something does not feel right.

People out in the dating world during the pandemic should not lose heart, she says, because romantic relationships are here to stay.

Read other media stories like these at Social Workers Speak.

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