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Displaying items by tag: Social Work

Wednesday, 28 December 2022 18:45

State-of-the-Art Technology Standards in Social Work

Like all behavioral health professionals, social workers are making increased use of technology to deliver services to clients, communicate with clients, gather information about clients, and educate students and practitioners. The advent of technology—including Internet, text (SMS), email, video, social media and networking, cloud storage, and other forms of digital communication and software—has introduced novel and unprecedented ethical and risk management challenges. These dramatic changes in the ways that social workers use technology have led to major efforts to develop new standards in the profession. These efforts have occurred in three distinct, albeit related, domains: (1) practice standards, (2) regulatory and licensing standards, and (3) code of ethics standards. It is essential that today's social workers be thoroughly familiar with these significant developments to ensure that their practice complies with prevailing standards.

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Since 2020 TCI has taught telemental health to over 600 graduate students. These were students of social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychology, or public health who completed the TeleMental Health Training Program. Participating colleges varied greatly–small, large, private, public, urban and rural.

Alabama A&M University is one of the colleges TCI has partnered with for the last two years. In March we completed the TeleMental Health Training Program with a group of 31 master of social work fellows from their Behavioral Health Workforce Training Program (BHWTP). The BHWTP Fellows’ participation in the TeleMental Health Training Program is made possible by generous funding awarded to the MSW Program by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)(MC1HP42067‐01‐00) through its Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program. The purpose of the BHWET Program for Professionals is to develop and expand experiential training opportunities, such as field placements and internships, to improve the distribution and supply of the behavioral health workforce. The development of competencies in the implementation of telemental health is a current and critical skills area in demand across settings in which social workers practice. 

Beginning in October and ending in March, the students started with pre-testing, attended four live webinar sessions, and completed the program with post-testing. Each webinar was interactive and immersive, led by TCI’s CEO and telemental health instructor Ray Barrett. Students were able to ask questions, apply concepts to real-life situations, and immediately put the skills they learned into practice with their peers during breakout sessions.

These webinars covered the ten modules that compose the full program:

  • Introduction to TeleMental Health
  • Legal Aspects of TeleMental Health
  • Ethics of Using Technology in Behavioral Health
  • Privacy Law for TeleMental Health
  • Ethical, Legal, and Clinical Aspects of Selecting Technology
  • Emergency Management Planning for TeleMental Health
  • Screening for Fit for TeleMental Health Services
  • Ethical and Clinical Skills of Video Sessions
  • Ethical and Clinical Skills of Phone Therapy
  • Cultural Competence and Telehealth

Per the university’s request, TCI measured the learning outcomes for each module or topic area. The assessments are graded on a scale of 0-10. The students’ initial pre-training tests saw an average grade of 5.4/10. After the training series, student post-test grades increased by 55% compared to the pre-test, closing out at 8.4/10.

The greatest area of improvement, according to assessments, was Clinical Skills of Phone Therapy. Phone therapy skills are incredibly important for clinical social workers as they continue to serve remote clients who lack access to high-speed internet.

Many of the fellows shared their experience of the telemental health webinars.

“This presentation was extremely informative. I will be using what I have learned within these lessons within my future practice.”

“I learned in greater detail about best practices with video telehealth and best practices such as camera angles, etc.”

“This training was very informative. The presenter aided my understanding of the inner workings of Telemental health. My only recommendation for improvement would be to include more visual stimuli and discussions in order to keep the class engaged.”

“Being able to assist and work with clients telephonically will make my practice better.”

“I learned a great deal about the legal aspects of Telemental health. I have a better understanding about what is appropriate when practicing across state lines, which will be beneficial to me in the future considering I am interested in opening my own counseling practice using Telemental health.”

“I learned more about HIPAA as far as the details of technology and disclosure. It will prevent breaches of HIPAA.”

“This activity was very informative…The speaker was constantly engaging the class and listening to any questions and comments from students. He seemed knowledgeable regarding the subject.”

“I enjoyed breaking off into groups and practicing how to contact emergency services when a client is having harmful ideations.”

“This gave me a great deal of insight regarding the importance of safety and preparation for practitioners.”

“Everything in the course was new to me. I will now be able to practice TeleMental Health.”

In addition, at the end of each webinar, we asked participants the following questions: “Did this program enhance your professional expertise?”, and “Would you recommend this program to others?”  99% of surveyed participants said “YES” to the first question, and 97% answered “YES” to the second question. 

The BHWTP fellows also provided helpful recommendations for improvement, such as increasing slide content and visual stimuli for some of the topics. They also shared other topics they would like to study, such as vicarious trauma, substance abuse, and feminism in social work. The team at TCI considers it an essential part of their job to listen to these recommendations and make adjustments and additional courses to better meet the needs of today’s students and tomorrow’s licensed clinicians.

In the end, we at TCI believe the TeleMental Health Training Program does what it was designed to do, namely, to increase professionals' confidence and readiness for today’s workforce through proficiency in telehealth. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue these relationships with each student, clinician and institution, and we remain committed to being the cutting edge of telemental health success for years to come.

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When Raymond Barrett first created a telehealth training certificate program in 2014, he believed it was essential to include the ethical and legal standards for social workers, and these standards continue to shape the content of the Telemental Health Training Certificate (THTC) Program today. Some examples are the NASW Code of Ethics, state and federal laws, and best practices for technology-assisted social work. And in addition to these, the THTC Program meets CSWE’s educational and policy accreditation standards.

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Friday, 04 March 2022 16:13

Social Work in Sierra Leone

George Abu Mansaray, a social worker with Ruth's Hope Kindergarten, talks with Ray Barrett about the professional impact he’s making in Sierra Leone. As a small, non-Western country of about 7 million people, George says that a sustainable approach to social work in Sierra Leone should include an “indigenous model” that co-creates community development projects using “local knowledge.” After getting experience working abroad, George returned to Sierra Leone to help communities that were lacking life-sustaining resources, such as schools, health clinics, and safe drinking water.

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There are endless benefits to becoming a member of Social Work Societies, including access to important training, community within the field, and the opportunity to be involved in advancing the field at a higher level. In an ever-changing, high-demand field, these organizations are greatly needed. Monica Blauner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Psychoanalyst with over 40 years experience in mental health treatment. She is the former president of the California Society of Social Work and currently works at a private practice in Los Angeles.

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Monday, 19 July 2021 12:06

Continuing Education

I Graduated Already, Why Do I Have to Take Continuing Education Classes?

You completed your undergraduate program, then your master’s degree. You might even have completed a Ph.D. program. You took a licensure exam. You worked under supervision for a year or two. Finally, you were fully licensed. 

But you’re not done with your education just yet. In fact, you likely won’t ever be done - not as long as you want to keep practicing in your profession.

Counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists - in fact, most healthcare professionals - typically are required to take continuing education classes throughout their careers to maintain licensure. 

You can check your state’s CE requirements here. 

Each state has licensure laws that set minimum continuing education requirements. Why?

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Tuesday, 13 July 2021 15:43

Clinical Social Work

Recently, Ray Barrett sat down to interview Laura Groshong about the field of social work and the direction in which the field is headed. Laura is a licensed clinical social worker and has been in clinical practice for the past 43 years. She was a registered lobbyist in Washington for five mental health organizations for 25 years. She has been the director of policy and practice for the Clinical Social Work Association nationally since 2006. Laura’s diverse range of experiences allows her to bring a wealth of knowledge to the field. Her passion for social work developed while she was working in the foster care system. She fell in love with the field but decided to pursue the mental health route. 

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Clinicians often wonder, “How can I provide therapy to active-duty military members and veterans?” There is an immense need for comprehensive mental health services among this population and the growing field of telehealth has allowed clinicians more access than ever before to provide services to military personnel, veterans, and their families.

Recently, Ray Barrett sat down for an interview with Dr. Mark Stebnicki, a mental health counselor and instructor for the Clinical Military Counseling Certificate Program, and Randy Phelps, CEO of Give An Hour- a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive, no-cost mental health services to veterans.

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Wednesday, 26 May 2021 13:08

Telebehavioral Health Competencies

Teletherapy Competencies, the What and How

We’re always eager to talk about telemental health competencies and how important they are to teletherapy training programs, but it can be difficult to determine which educational content areas are most useful for you. Universities considering graduate program competencies in telebehavioral health training for their staff and/or students may be seeking guidance in selecting the most effective program. In this article, we describe the course qualities that are often seen in relevant, well-rounded telemental health programs. Using current teletherapy research studies, you’ll see how similar teletherapy competencies are gaining prominence across numerous clinical professionsand why you could benefit from learning them.

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Thursday, 29 April 2021 18:40

HIPAA-Compliant TeleMental Health

HIPAA and TeleMental Health: Get Compliant!

Is your telemental health practice HIPAA compliant? It’s a question that can cause a knot in the stomach of even the most experienced telemental health professionals. For those just starting out in telehealth, it may even cause a bout of panic. Exactly how does HIPAA impact counselors who are using telehealth? Are the rules different than the rules for in-person therapy?

Even if you’ve taken a continuing education class covering HIPAA, it may not have covered telemental health and you may have questions. 

Let’s start with some basics: 

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