The National Catholic School of Social Work recently invited me to be a part of a distinguished team providing practical self-management tools for newly minted social workers entering challenging, often emotionally draining field work.

My presentation covered tools for maintaining balance and taking care of yourself as you provide service to others. We discussed basic physical exercise for releasing tension; then moved to specific exercises teaching the creative writing tools of Keyword, Word Jazz and Haiku poetry to capture the essence of what’s going on in any moment.

For example, after a difficult counseling session, jotting down keywords can help someone step back and get a broader picture of how the session is affecting them on many levels. What does it make them think about? How does it make them feel? How is it affecting the way they work with clients?

Poetic language is expansive, and using the tools of poetry allows us to see the world from different perspectives. Word Jazz and Haiku poetry challenge us to step out of habitual ways of thinking and find new ways to describe thoughts and feelings.

We had over a hundred attendees, some writing poems and sharing them for the first time. The energy, excitement, and openness created sparked interesting conversations after the session.

This Toolkit Meeting was designed to introduce and review the diverse tools available for building a practicioner’s professional toolkit. It started with remarks from Acting Dean, Dr. Steve Schneck; followed by remarks from Associate Dean & MSW Program Chair, Dr. Marie Raber; and brief remarks from Dr. Lynn Mayer, BSW Program Chair.

Dr. Ellen Thursby, Assistant Director of Field Education provided an overview of Field Education and Practice, followed by Dr. Christine Sabatino giving a poignant and vibrant look at the practice of Interviewing.

Dr. Melissa Grady provided crucial information on building an Evidence Based practice, followed by Dr. Susanne Bennett giving a practical perspective on the topic of Supervision. The program closed with our Poetry with a Purpose Self-Care segment.

Synergistically bringing together presenters with a wide range of diverse talents is a great way to energize young professionals entering the messy complexity of real world work. It’s the type of educational event we proudly support.


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