Social Work  News

Kingson honored by with the 2015 Purpose Prize


Nancy, a lawyer and former faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School, and Eric, a professor of social work at Syracuse University, share a four-decade friendship. Both have created encore roles – for Nancy, returning to work after raising her family, and for Eric, channeling his early political activism into the social-policy sphere, focusing on Social Security. Their joint experience and established professional alliance gave rise to a national organization and coalition to preserve and expand Social Security.

Their encore evolutions have been gradual, they say, guided by their early mentors. People like Robert Ball, Wilbur Cohen, and many others proved that late-life activism is one way of giving back – and pressing forward.

To counter well-financed campaigns to undermine and undo Social Security, Nancy and Eric created Social Security Works (SSW) and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition (SSSC), including over 350 organizations – think tanks, unions and groups focused on the rights of women, people with disabilities, the older population, people of color, low-income Americans, veterans, ‘Netroots’€™ organizations, and others. Together, the coalition they formed represents over 50,000,000 Americans who have been mobilized to sign petitions, write and call Congress – and vote.

  • Formed and co-led a diverse coalition and campaign to remove Social Security from the deficit fights that dominated U.S. government policy discussions.
  • Established a sustainable organization with wide national reach.
  • Developed information, education, lobbying and citizen advocacy campaign, via traditional and new media, that helped to shift the policy discussion and advance ideas about expanding, rather than limiting, Social Security.

Starting in 2010, SSW and SSSC have shaped the policy debate, developing education materials, creating media and legislative strategies, training grassroots leaders and bringing together academics and policy experts. Together with allies in Congress, they forestalled benefit cuts – and promoted the idea that Social Security is a solution. Expanding it could help address a number of challenges, including the looming retirement income crisis, the economic insufficiency many retirees experience, related financial pressures on family caregivers and income inequality.

Eric and Nancy are using their encores to reinforce the essential human values that underpin Social Security – the responsibility to care for others; the value of hard work and fair rewards; dignity; the common good; and a fundamental understanding that we are all connected. “With the SSSC’s broad-based, diverse coalition, we are no longer on the defensive, but instead, advancing the cause. It’s been a sea change,” Eric said. Key to that future is mentoring a number of talented staffers in their 20s and 30s – the next generation of Social Security’€™s protectors. Eric aims to move the political agenda further as a Congressman; he’s taken a leave from SSW and SSSC to run for office in 2016.

In March 2015, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn), with 54 original cosponsors (and 70 cosponsors by November, 2015), introduced a bill to expand Social Security benefits and restore Social Security to long-range balance. This is just one of more than a half dozen Social Security expansion bills introduced since the SSC was created.

Just as their mentors devoted their “old-age” years to protecting and advancing Social Security, Nancy and Eric are inspired to do likewise. “We are heightening our advocacy with the passage of time – for the sake of our children, grandchildren and all the generations that follow,” said Nancy. “This is our passion, our encore and our legacy.”

MSW students focus on mental, behavioral health needs of veterans, military personnel and their families


Four advanced standing MSW students received Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant awards as a part of the Upstate New York Mental and Behavioral Health Education Consortium (UNY-MBHEC). This initiative’s focus is to increase the capacity of the social work profession in Upstate New York to serve the mental and behavioral health needs of veterans, military personnel and their families, and residents of medically underserved rural communities.

Consortium efforts are led by Principal Investigator, Dr. Carrie Jefferson Smith, director of the School of Social Work, and co-Investigator, Kristin Esposito, field placement coordinator, School of Social Work. The project is supported by a three-year, $480,253 competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration.

The School of Social Work has partnered with the Syracuse VA Medical Center on this program since 2013. This year’s cohort who will begin field placements in Fall 2014 with the Syracuse VA Medical Center include:

  • Ashley King will be working in the VA’s Homeless Program.
  • Sonya Mangovski will be working with the VA’s Crisis Intervention team.
  • Karen McClenthan will be placed with the Military Sexual Trauma/Behavioral Health program.
  • Theresa Taylor will work with the VA’s Psychotherapy Team through individual and group therapy programs that support individuals with mental health challenges such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, loss and grief.

In 2013, the School of Social Work announced it is part of a consortium of upstate New York schools, led by the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare, to support behavioral health initiatives for veterans. This collaboration underscores the Falk College, its School of Social Work and Syracuse University’s long-standing commitment to veterans and military families through interdisciplinary scholarship to address issues impacting this community.

MSW students focus on mental, behavioral health needs of veterans, military personnel and their families


2015-2016 marks the final year for the HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration grant authorized by the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148). Lead by Principle Investigator Carrie Jefferson Smith, DSW, ACSW and Co-Investigator Kristin Esposito, LMSW, the primary objective of the grant project is to address mental and behavioral health needs of veterans, military personnel and their families, and residents of medically underserved rural communities with limited or no access to services. By providing specialized, evidenced-based training in trauma informed care, inter-professional practice, military social work and cultural competency, the grant project aims to increase the capacity of skilled social work professionals in upstate New York.

Syracuse University’s School of Social Work has partnered with the University of Albany, University of Buffalo, Binghamton University, Nazareth College, University of Brockport and Roberts Wesleyan College in the Upstate New York Mental and Behavioral Health Education Consortium (UNY-MBHEC). This collaborative partnership is predicated on common purposes, shared resources, mutual accountability for outcomes, and commitment to continuous quality improvement. This year’s cohort who will begin field placements include:
Dana Bowers will be focusing on the Military Sexual Trauma/Behavioral Health program.
Lisa Ching will be focusing on palliative/hospice care.
Karlee Roberts will be focusing her experiences in OIA/OEA.
Justin Scott will be focusing his experiences in the homeless program.

Adapting social work, public health interventions to war-related environments in Ukraine


Strategies to overcome stress and trauma, and transition support programs for the well-being of veterans and military families in Ukraine were two of many areas discussed during Falk College’s March 31 Research Colloquium sponsored by the College Research Center. Yuliya Chorna, a Fulbright Scholar and 2009 MSW graduate of the School of Social Work, and her colleague, Iuliia Pylypas, met with a standing room-only audience that included students, faculty, and staff.

Chorna and Pylypas are the executive director and program developer, respectively, of the International HIV/AIDS and TB Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) focused on public health and health promotion. Both have extensive administrative and policy experience in governmental and NGO settings in Ukraine. Given circumstances in Ukraine, the organization’s current emphasis is on the development of psycho-social support and public health services for soldiers at risk for post-traumatic stress disorders and for internally displaced persons.

“Soldiers coming from the field are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorders. The same is true for internally displaced persons and the broader community. At this time, there is no sufficient training on these issues in social and military services as the circumstances we are in are very new,” notes Chorna.

Professor of social work, Eric Kingson, organized the event with the associate dean of research and professor of social work, Deborah Monahan, and her staff in the College Research Center, including assistant director, Katie Keough and graduate assistant Ayse Duygu Cakirsoy-Aslan. Dr. Kingson and fellow professor of social work, Dr. Alejandro Garcia, who were Chorna’s instructors while she was a student in the MSW program, attended the Research Colloquium as did her former academic advisor, Dr. Nancy Mudrick, Dr. Monahan, and other faculty and students from Falk College.

In addition to sharing their experiences and best practices and exploring possibilities of collaborations with Falk and other SU faculty, the guest speakers had a strong interest in learning more about community-based models addressing needs of veterans, collaborations between military and community organizations in providing services for veterans, and public policy regulating these issues.

Packing in a lot during their two-day visit, their time in Syracuse began with meetings with James Schmeling, co-founder, managing director, programs and Nick Armstrong, senior director for research and policy, both from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families, who provided an overview of the Institute’s approach to service, its creative community-based service models and approach to disseminating best practices. This was followed by site visits to learn about other innovative services as possible models in Ukraine hosted by the Social Work Department of the Syracuse VA Medical Center and Clear Path for Veterans in Chittenango, N.Y. The next day, after meeting with Drs. Ambika Krishnakumar, associate professor, Department of Child and Family Studies, and Lutchmie Narine, associate professor, Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, they also had chance to talk with Social Work professor of practice Tracey Marchese, a nationally-recognized and certified trauma expert. Their SU visit concluded with a meeting Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken, co-director of the Transnational NGO Initiative (TNGO Initiative) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Margaret (Peg) Hermann , Gerald B. and Daphna Cramer Professor of Global Affairs and Director of the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, and Olga Boichak, a MPA student who will be returning home to Ukraine after May graduation.

As part of the visit to the United States, Chorna presented the paper, “Emergency public health and social support intervention package for internally displaced persons in Kyiv, Ukraine,” at Yale University’s March 28-29 Vision Conference.

View photos of the event (photos courtesy of Professor of Social Work Alejandro Garcia)
Watch the presentation video

Training students in effective trauma treatment using EMDR Therapy


“Once you start working in trauma, you see it everywhere,” says Tracey Musarra Marchese, MSW, LCSW-R, social work professor of practice in Syracuse University’s Falk College and a practitioner in the community working with individuals and families. “Because of the amount of trauma out there, we need to have more people trained in treating it.”

And Marchese is doing just that.

Students in her classes on trauma treatment for children, adolescents and adults are learning from her first-hand training experiences in the practical application and benefits of an integrative psychotherapy approach proven effective for trauma treatment. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR Therapy, helps people of all ages relieve many types of psychological distress, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric disorders, mental health problems, and somatic symptoms. From September – December 2014, Marchese, along with Sandra Kaplan, LCSW, a clinical professor at Upstate Medical University, provided a 14-week EMDR Therapy Basic Training (40 hours of training and 10 hours of case consultation) for psychiatry residents, community practitioners, and interested Syracuse University MSW students.

“Because EMDR is an integrative therapy, it appeals to many clinicians who are trained in other types of therapies,” says Marchese. “Additionally, it offers students and clinicians the opportunity to develop more advanced skills that are specific to treating trauma.”

EMDR targets past experience, current triggers, and future potential challenges. This therapy helps clients decrease or eliminate the distress from a disturbing memory while improving the client’s view of the self and creating coping mechanisms to resolve present and future anticipated triggers. EMDR is designated as an effective treatment by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and many other international health agencies. According to the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA), this powerful psychotherapy approach has helped over an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological distress.

Marchese was exposed to EMDR Therapy early during her career working as a psychotherapist/clinical social worker helping clients with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. “The person I worked for mentioned EMDR as a therapy technique that was having very positive results for her clients.” Marchese completed her EMDR training in 1998 and has been using it ever since in private practice and is now educating students about it in her classroom. She is currently an EMDRIA-certified therapist and an EMDRIA-approved consultant, which means she has completed EMDR training, engaged in over 300 EMDR clinical sessions and 20 hours of consultation with an EMDRIA-approved consultant, and attended numerous continuing education workshops on advanced applications of EMDR Therapy. She has recently become an EMDRIA-approved EMDR Basic Trainer, which is currently a role held by approximately only 100 clinicians worldwide.

“EMDR is one of the most amazing therapy techniques I’ve ever used,” notes Marchese. “It can—and does—produce very successful results. From my students, I hear repeatedly that EMDR Therapy reinforces for them that people who have experienced even the worst traumas can get better.” Marchese currently serves as a co-coordinator of a regional network of EMDR professionals by providing events and regular training sessions. Her long-term goal was to become an EMDR trainer. “I am pleased to have achieved a high level of practice and expertise in using this therapy. More importantly, I now have the skills to help other clinicians learn how to help their clients achieve goals that they may not have thought possible,” she says.

“It is so rewarding to help people relieve emotional pain,” notes Marchese. “I love to see people transform their lives because they transform the way they think and feel thanks to EMDR.”

Attend a course on EMDR Therapy:

Understanding EMDR Therapy and Its Applications: Treatment for Trauma
Date: Thursday, May 28th
Time: 3:00-4:30pm
Location: Peck Hall, 601 East Genesee St.
Register to attend

March 16 is deadline to apply for HRSA-funded field placements working with veterans, their families


A unique opportunity for Syracuse University Advanced Standing MSW students interested in working with veterans and their families is now available. Awardees will receive enriched education and training in evidence-based interventions, trauma recovery, cultural competence and interprofessional practice.

SWK alumna, Kathleen Glow-Morgan, to serve as VA acting national director of social work


Kathleen Glow-Morgan, LCSW-R, social work executive at Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC), will be the VACO acting national director of social work from May 12-24. She has a master of social work from Syracuse University’s School of Social Work and a BS in human development, also from SU. “She has been assigned to this extremely high-level position, which reflects the regard in which she is held here as well as in Washington. We are very proud of her and know she will do a great job,” notes Robert W. McLean, Lt. Col. USMC (Ret.), public affairs officer, Syracuse VAMC.

Glow-Morgan, in a previously published article in Syracuse Magazine, spoke about the important role social workers play in helping soldiers, veterans and their families. “Social workers are uniquely poised to not only address the needs of the soldier or veteran, but also to look at the larger system and the negative impact that soldiers coming back and leaving again is having on them and their families.” “There is now recognition that social workers have the skill and training that uniquely prepares them to intervene on behalf of veterans.”

The Syracuse VA Medical Center and its affiliates serve as hands-on training sites for students in the MSW program in the School of Social Work. In her role with the Syracuse VAMC, Glow-Morgan provides administrative and clinical oversight for the social work staff and field placement program.

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