Editor’s Note: Accentuate the Positive
When we think of someone who is grieving, we may picture an individual experiencing intense or overwhelming sadness, perhaps denial, and an inability to stop thinking about loss. We might suppose that grief counseling is simply a matter of helping to ameliorate pain. As Scott Janssen, MA, MSW, LCSW, writes in this issue’s cover story, “Growth During Grief,” “Social workers counseling grieving clients often focus on helping them accept the reality of a loved one’s death; normalize, manage, and process intense emotions; and gain perspective on troubling thoughts and beliefs.” But it’s much more complex and nuanced. There are positive aspects of grief that therapists can help the bereaved explore. Janssen continues, “As the deeper meaning of a loss is discovered, social workers might help clients optimize existing strengths and supports and learn new strategies, such as mindfulness, cognitive reframing, or somatic awareness.” In his article, he explores the ways in which grieving can be a transformative experience and the ways social workers can help foster growth after loss.
Other features address public health, private practice, and neurodiversity. Crystal Pitt, LCSW-C, explores the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically that which exacerbated the risk and challenges of homelessness. Devin Ruel, MSW, and Trista Yates, MSW, write about the marginalization of people diagnosed with autism and suggest strategies for corrective action. And contributor Sue Coyle, MSW, talks with social workers who have developed private practices about the pleasures and pitfalls of striking out on one’s own.
In departments, Coyle also addresses a hot topic in social work licensure—the pass rate of the Association of Social Work Boards’ (ASWB) exams. She discusses the outcry over disparities in test results as well as the ASWB’s response to the controversy. Karen Magruder, LCSW-S, writes about another hot-button issue not only in social work but in virtually all fields and aspects of society—artificial intelligence—looking at how social work educators should respond to students’ use of ChatGPT. Also in the realm of technology, Heather Burton, LCSWR, explores whether empathy-building virtual reality by staff improves treatment outcomes for veterans with chronic pain, while Lindamarie Olson, PhD, LMSW, looks at neuroscientific interventions for people who’ve experienced trauma. Finally, journalist Keith Loria looks into research about how trauma-informed education may help justice-involved Black youth.
— Kate Jackson