The Advocate Winter 2019

Page 1


From Practicums to Practice

SOCIAL JUSTICE WORKS Clearing the Air on Conversion Therapy

INDIGENOUS VOICES Many Ways of Knowing







ACSW AWARDS NOMINATIONS Let’s recognize our outstanding social workers! ACSW members are invited to submit nominations for the following awards:






DEADLINE TO SUBMIT NOMINATIONS IS FEBRUARY 10, 2020. Awards will be announced during the ACSW Awards Luncheon at the annual conference on Friday, March 27, 2020 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton. For more information, see under Social Workers – Honouring Our Own.



MARCH 26/27/28 2020




THE ADVOCATE Volume 44, Issue 4, Winter 2019 Published by: The Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) 550 10707 100 AVE NW, Edmonton AB T5J 3M1 Ph: 780-421-1167/Toll-free (in AB): 1-800-661-3089 Fax: 780-421-1168/Toll-free fax: 1-866-874-8931 — Executive Director & Registrar: Lynn Labrecque King, MSW, RSW Associate Registrar: Suzanne MacKinnon, MSW, RCSW Managers, Regulatory Practice/Complaints Directors: Bruce Llewellyn, MSW, RSW Sheryl Pearson, MSW, RSW, LLB


Associate Director - Professional Practice & Advocacy: Jody-Lee Farrah, MSW, RSW Membership Activities - Team Lead: Charity Lui, MSW, RSW Social Workers - Membership Activities: Heather Johnson, SW Dip, RSW Andre Tinio, BSW, RSW Finance & Administration Officer: Kim Hyggen, CPA, CGA Finance & Administration Support: Audrey Kent, CPA, CMA Registration Coordinator: Brenda Gross

FEATURE STORY 24 What You Need to Know: 2020 ACSW Conference


17 It’s Time for Basic Income 20 ACSW Conference 2020: Intersections of Activism and Leadership 24 What You Need to Know: 2020 ACSW Conference 28 From Practicums to Practice AROUND OUR PROVINCE 4 Around Our Province THE BIG PICTURE 8 A Message from the President 9

A Message from the Executive Director & Registrar

IN THE NEWS 10 Welcome to New RSWs & RCSWs INDIGENOUS VOICES 11 Many Ways of Knowing

FEATURE STORY 28 From Practicums to Practice

SOCIAL JUSTICE WORKS 12 Clearing the Air on Conversion Therapy ETHICS IN ACTION 14 Public Register of Social Workers THE VOICES OF PRIVATE PRACTICE 16 Tools for the Business of Practice DAY IN THE LIFE 25 Michele Markham, SWDip, RSW

Executive Assistant / Office Manager: Noreen Majek Promotions & Events Associate: Crystal King Administrative Support Professionals: Tracy Houben Carlena Johnson Jennifer Vasquez Toni Harrison Tami Carlin Jessica Atamanenko Kathleen Lidbetter Emily Rypstra (Associate) Registration/Online Service Support Analyst: Laurie Nelson ACSW Council: President: Ajay Pandhi, MSW, RSW Vice President: Maxine Salopree, BSW, RSW Treasurer: Carla Bertsch, MSW, RSW Secretary: Dayirai Kapfunde, MSW, RSW Members at Large: Margaret Brown, MSW, RSW Wilda Listener, MSW, RSW Bobbi Michaud, MSW, RSW Baiju Vareed, MSW Equiv, RSW Darnel Forro, MSW, RSW Samuel Mammen, MSW Equiv, RSW Indigenous Social Work Committee Representative: Derek Chewka, MSW, RSW Public Members: Bukola Oladunni Salami Trevor Liskowich Laura Delfs Charmaine Coutinho


Editorial Board: Samuel Mammen, MSW Equiv, RSW & Cardinal Fomradas, MSW, RSW (Co-Chairs) Darnel Forro, MSW, RSW Tasha Novick, MSW, RSW  Sherri Tanchak, MSW, RSW Andrea Newberry-Koroluk, PhD, RSW  Islam Deyab, BSW Equiv, RSW Bukola Oladunni Salami, Public Member

DIPLOMA DIALOGUES 33 Indigenous Knowledge and Social Work Education

Editorial services provided by Bird Communications

FOR YOUR INFORMATION 34 The Advocate Editorial Policy 35 For Your Information

Advertising space is available. To place an ad, contact The ACSW reserves the right to reject any submissions and advertising. Spring 2020 Issue Ad Deadline: January 15, 2020 Canadian subscriptions are $26/year (outside Canada: $26 US/year). Please immediately update your member profile with any address changes. ISSN 0847 - 2890 PM NO. 40050109 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO 550 10707 100 AVE NW, EDMONTON AB T5J 3M1 The opinions and interpretations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW), its editorial board, or contractors. The aforementioned make no guarantee or warranty, either expressed or implied, about the accuracy or links contained in the Advocate, and are not liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, or consequential damages that could arise. All material ©2019 by the ACSW or by author. ACSW retains copyright when no author is listed. Reprint or copying (including digital or online reproduction in any form) of any Advocate material requires written consent of the ACSW.

Printing on Titan Dull text. 10% post consumer waste. Titan participates in a certified forest program.




Supervised Consumption

Red Deer & Sylvan Lake BBQ

Calgary Pride parade

Interprofessional Learning Pathway Launch

Activities Across Alberta Social workers and their families enjoyed some barbeque time together in both Grande Prairie and Red Deer. Thank you to area coordinators Shauna Livesey, SW Dip, RSW, (Grand Prairie), Simone Morrison, SW Dip, RSW, (Red Deer) and Dana Muir, SW Dip, RSW, (Sylvan Lake) for providing opportunities for social workers to connect in their communities. The city of Calgary had their annual Pride Parade on September 1st with thousands in attendance. Members of the ACSW Sexual and Gender Diversity group, Calgary Social Workers for Social Justice and Calgary Area Coordinators marched in the parade. The Strathcona County Area Coordinators hosted a Blanket Exercise on September 10th in Sherwood Park. A Blanket Exercise is an interactive experience where 4


participants learn over 500 years of history as it relates to the colonization of Indigenous peoples of Canada. Doneka Simmons, BSW, RSW, shared that the Blanket Exercise was very valuable both in terms of social work knowledge and practice – and for personal reflection and growth. On September 13, Andre Tinio, BSW, RSW, Social Worker - Membership Activities, Kayla Das, BSW, RSW, and Blair Wold, BSW, RSW, attended the University of Alberta’s 2019 Interprofessional Learning Pathway Launch. They spoke to students and upcoming health professionals about the importance of social work, the role of social workers within the field of health and the community, and about the Alberta College of Social Workers. Over 900 first-year health sciences students attended the event to learn about the various health regulatory bodies and associations.

Supervised consumption site town halls were held across Alberta in the fall. ACSW staff member Andre Tinio attended in Edmonton. In Calgary, Joan Farkas, MSW, RSW, member of the ACSW Calgary Social Workers for Social Justice, attended the forum. She shared, “I challenged the panel to bring a broader range of representation to their discussions, and in particular, to hear the perspectives of those living with addictions. I implored the panel to ask why the opioid crisis has taken hold of so many and asked them to meet service users in order to fully understand their realities and create progressive policies.”



Join the ACSW Advocate Editorial Board The ACSW Advocate Editorial Board is recruiting new members to help bring diverse perspectives to the Advocate magazine. We would like to invite: • Social workers practicing with a social work diploma or Bachelor of Social Work • ACSW student members • Frontline practitioners • Social workers or student members from northern and remote locations around our province. Being on the board is a rewarding and interesting way to stay informed about our profession and connect with social workers across Alberta. Board members review the previous issue of the Advocate magazine, look over submissions and plan for upcoming issues. Members do not need to have been published to join the board. If you are interested in this exciting opportunity, email Charity Lui at

Social Work Week United by Diversity. Strengthened by Inclusion. March 1 - 7, 2020 Let’s celebrate our profession! Send us your photos or tag #SWweek2020






2020 ACSW Elections

Open Positions

Consider running for our Council, or encouraging and nominating a fellow social worker. It’s a great opportunity to give back to your profession!

Treasurer, Secretary and 3 Members at Large

Important Dates

Have a question for the candidates?

November 29, 2019 Nominations for ACSW Council members open

Members are encouraged to submit questions for the candidates.

January 26, 2020 Nominations close

Questions can be sent to the Executive Assistant at between February 3 and March 6, 2020.

February 10, 2020 Candidates posted on the ACSW website February 10 - March 11, 2020 Elections are open March 27, 2020 Election results are shared at the Annual General Meeting

All candidate questions and individual responses will be posted online at under Election Nominees.

Council members will have the opportunity to: •

Contribute to strong leadership and effective governance for the ACSW

Discuss diverse perspectives on emerging issues

Represent and engage with membership on professional issues

Engage with and represent diverse professional interests



CHARITY LUI is the Membership Activities Team Lead. You can contact her at regarding submissions for the Advocate.

At first I was shocked, then I felt very humbled by the social workers who voted for me to represent them. The process to run for Council was pretty straightforward. I completed a nomination form, had two RSW nominators, provided a photo and a short biography. I also participated in the questions for candidates.

All members young and older and middling should consider this opportunity. I have learned about regulatory and non-regulatory aspects of ACSW. Volunteering is an extension of our professional calling. Please take this opportunity to consider supporting our profession.

If you are passionate about your practice and have an interest in contributing to the field of social work, I encourage you to try it!

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller Margaret Brown, MSW, RSW – Council Member at Large

Maxine Salopree, BSW, RSW - Council Vice President

Red Deer College Social Work Milestone In 2019 and 2020, the Red Deer College Social Work Diploma program is celebrating 50 years of involvement in social work education, connection to community, and contributions to social justice by students, graduates, and faculty members. We began with 15 students and now have an annual intake of 60. The learning and experiences gained through field placement could not be accomplished without the dedication and support of social workers and agencies from throughout Central Alberta. We are grateful to all who have been part of the past 50 years – students who learned with us, social workers who began with the program, social workers who taught students by supervising in field placement and as faculty members in the program. Here’s to the next fifty! Submitted by Brenda Joyce, MSW, RSW, Chair, Red Deer College Social Work Diploma program

THIS IS AUPE YOUR WORKING PEOPLE The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is proud to represent thousands of social services workers across the province who are on the front lines, making a difference every day. • • Twitter: @_AUPE_





AJAY HARTENFELD PANDHI is the President of the ACSW Council. He is also the President of Pandhi Counselling and Mediation Services and works for AHS as a therapist at the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Centre. You can contact Ajay at

GREETINGS, FELLOW SOCIAL WORKERS! It has been a busy fall season at ACSW as we work to represent you on the regulatory and association fronts. Executive Director and Registrar Lynn Labrecque King and I had a good initial meeting with Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney. Invitations to ACSW social events and plans to meet regularly have been established. Secondly, the Council connected with Calgary-area social workers and discussed strategies for advancing advocacy in the current climate. This was a fruitful meeting. I am reminded today of the good work that social workers have done in the past, and two strong leaders and mentors come to mind: Irena Sendler and Jane Addams. Irena Sendler was one of the bravest women I have read about. At great risk to herself, she managed to rescue over 2,500 Jewish children during World War II. Jane Addams was equally brave and committed; her tireless striving set the foundations of our Code of Ethics and social work practice. She stated, “It is well to remind ourselves, from time to time, that “Ethics” is but another word for “righteousness,” that for which many men and women of every generation have hungered and thirsted, and without which life becomes meaningless.” I want to thank these amazing women (posthumously) for their contributions, and thank each of you who have made it your life’s mission to be social workers. Today, economic disparity between countries and people and the war for resources creates an ongoing stream of migrants trying to find a safe life. Many political leaders are staging their political platforms on anti-immigrant stances and it’s quite commonplace to hear prejudiced thoughts openly expressed within rational discourse. Yet others embrace immigration as a chance to continue our successful social experiment of a shared Canadian mosaic. Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, states, “Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us—except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.” It is important to remember that whereas the recent history of this nation rests on immigration, the foundations of this land are Indigenous. Today we see very marginal expectations on new immigrants to learn about Indigenous history, culture and languages. Social workers need to work hard to correct this. Canada’s future health and well-being is based on embracing Indigenous wisdom. Black Elk is recorded saying, “I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that make one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the centre grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.” Keep up the good work. Ajay Hartenfeld Pandhi, MSW, RSW



A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & REGISTRAR Many social workers have contacted the College to express alarm and concern about the issue of title protection in the formation of a new College. This update on the current status is being widely shared with members: LYNN LABRECQUE KING is the Executive Director and Registrar for ACSW. Contact her at to share your thoughts on this or any other topic.

RECOGNITION OF SOCIAL WORKERS IN BILL 30 – MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES PROTECTION ACT Issue: Inclusion of the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) as a health profession that is permitted to use protected titles. What has happened: On December 11, 2018, Bill 30 - Mental Health Services Protection Act (MHSPA) received Royal Assent. This legislation amends the Health Professions Act to create a new College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta, regulating counselling therapists, addiction counsellors and child and youth care counsellors. Bill 30 protects the following titles: counselling therapist, psychotherapist, addiction counsellor, drug and alcohol counsellor, and child and youth care counsellor for use by regulated members of the newly formed College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta, the College of Psychologists, and the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta. Prior to the provincial election on April 30, 2019, the Office of the Minister of Health acknowledged the importance of including social workers in the legislation, permitting use of protected titles and apologized to the ACSW for the inadvertent omission of social workers in Bill 30. A commitment from the office of the Minister of Health was given affirming the intent to amend the legislation to ensure that the omission of social workers is corrected as soon as possible with the agreed amendment to read: “On December 11, 2018, the Mental Health Services Protection Act received Royal Assent. It amends the Health Professions Act and protects the use of titles that include counselling therapist, psychotherapist, addiction counsellor, drug and alcohol counsellor, child and youth care counsellor. These titles are protected for use by regulated members of the College of Counselling Therapy of Alberta, the College of Alberta Psychologists, the Alberta College of Social Workers and the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta.” Current Status and Next Steps The ACSW is actively working to arrange a meeting with the new Minister of Health elected in April 2019 and has sent a letter to provide information and background, and request continuation of the work toward an amendment. To date, the ACSW has been advised: that social workers can continue to use the titles as they always have until the MHSPA is proclaimed; and that once the new Act is proclaimed, social workers can continue to provide addiction counselling and Continued on next page




Welcome to New RSWs & RCSWs 8,513

TOTAL MEMBERSHIP AS OF SEPTEMBER 9, 2019 Destiny Valentina Corcilles-Herring

Lilia Eloisa Jalbuena

Connie Mohn

Kelli Stevens

Holly Dionne Abt

Heather Elane Jeffery

Chantalle Mondor

Danielle Stone

Chloe Adam

Erica Cousins

Natasha Elaine Jellow

Victoria Lynn Moreau

Emily Elizabeth Stuart

Jezlaine Ann Aguado

Allison Tracy Deal

Kersten Brooke Johnson

Angelene A.E. Neil

Alexandra Lyn Szpakowski

Rebecca Oluwakemi Aiyesa

Janna Ying Deng

Kelly Jordan Johnston

Dena Coreen Okhifoh

Jeffrey Hernandez Taruc

Laura Gwen Diaz Morales

Neirreth Jonnson

Katherine Oliphant

Omowunmi Dorcas Akintobi

Sarah Nicole Tatz

Barbara Ann Docken

Jenell Katherine Kaiser

Sarah Jean Olson

Terra Throndson

Anyim Akum

Elaina Gayle Drewry

Katrina Duba Kaiser

Rita Bamidele Omogie

Ainsleigh Taylor Toth

Michaela Dubetz

Allison Jane Karpo

Tania Oveson

Gracia Tshinyembe

Jade Alix Dubois

Emily Kennedy

Yvette Iona Palvialok

Chelsea Dawn Valiquette

Jemal Yusuf Ferah

Maimuna Khan

Hanhy Park

Megan Vernerey

Corinne Fetting

Kimberly Katie Kozak

Marcia Walker

Andrea Foster

Lyusyena Kukuyan

Katelynn Marie Pawlenchuk

Sarah Fuller

Kayleigh Brianne Lake

Marilyn Gargas

Michelle Laurel Lamb

Fouzia Mahamoud Abdi

Lauren Anderson Abimbola Enitan Ariyo Janet Aucoin Ai Cheng Aw Mildred Padchico Batore Marissa Bennett Spencer Finn Bergen Lapidolph Tuffour Boateng Courtney Laine Boll Kathleen Brousseau Jessica Lilybet Bui Adam Russell Cameron Marie Pierre Suzanne Castonguay Xayna Myrene Chadd Nicole Linnea Chalifour Ju-Han Chen

Andrea Gartrell

Tyler Ray Ledwos

Nicole Valentina Pedersen Luke Dylan Penner Laurie Danielle Pettipas Arianna Plett

Erin Caitlin Gerrard-Evjen

Emilie Lewandowski

Mackenzie Alexandra Godlien

Wing Hong Stephen Li Ory Li Pi Shan

Kenneth Guye

Jeri-Lee Rose Lomond

Dawit Hadgu Habtu

Megan Ashley MacKay

Haputhanthrige Dilipani Haputhanthri

Natasha McClintock

Maram Saidi

Jennifer Frances McDonald-Robinson

Alyssa Jade Scammell Brianna Jenae Schmidt

Kassi Lynne McKen

Megan Elizabeth Shott Jessica Bernardino Silva

Samantha Elizabeth Harvey

Kailey Wynne Wilson Allana Wolstenholme Helbin Yasin Betlhime Zewde

Kyla Dyan Popyk Leanne Elizabeth Rasberry Christie Sue Rehill Angelle Marie Reilly

Jennifer Lynn Chik

Sandria Oneida HibbertRose

Kelsey McWilliams Arianna Valentina Mestre

Kaitlyn Skibinsky

Baylee Madeline Chilton

Paige Marlee Hirschfeld

Jodie Moffatt

Mark Quentin Smith

Braylee Church

Hannah Jaksa

Sophie Ekala Mofoke

Kyle Thomas Scott Sobey


Continued from previous page

psychotherapy as they always have. (As the legislation currently reads, the titles are protected but not the scope of practice). The ACSW continues to affirm that an amendment is needed to ensure that social workers are included as health professionals permitted to use the protected titles. Background documents and details can be viewed in the News section of the ACSW website at The ACSW would like to thank the many social workers that have joined in expressing their concerns and encourages all social workers to participate in the conversation directly with the Minister of Health and their MLAs to urge an amendment to Bill 30 as soon as possible in order to bring this important matter to conclusion. Lynn Labrecque King, MSW, RSW 10



Many Ways of Knowing BY DEREK CHEWKA, MSW, RSW

modeling the teaching of patience and that it is okay to not know the answer to everything, and that we must appreciate the many ways of knowing that exist. Helping clients remain connected to Elders and Knowledge Keepers during these times are essential and the teachings provided will help shape one’s Indigenous identity. To transfer this all onto a client’s service plan or cultural connection plan would look something like this: GOAL: Strengthen client’s Indigenous identity. TASKS: Providing access to and engaging with Elders and Knowledge Keepers. (You may have some other tasks to achieve the goal and you would list them separately.)

TANSI! AANII! OKI! ABA WAT OEC! TAWNSHI! EDLONAT E’! HELLO! By the time this arrives in your hands, it will be winter, but as I write, the leaves are turning colours and the wind is sending the leaves flying, making long swirls of rich colours in yellow, orange and red. As I continue on my social work journey within an Indigenous organization, I have come to learn from Elders and Knowledge Keepers the significance the seasons played in the lives of Indigenous people years ago. Different medicines are harvested at this time of the year, the ceremonies surrounding powwow dancing wind down and round dances become more common. Certain stories are no longer spoken, and I am told they will resume when the first snow flies.

While I do not profess to know the answers to all of these “Why do they do that?” questions, I have come to learn my place as a social worker in all of this, and that I must practice patience and reflect on the teachings about humility. I will be given the answers when I am ready. As social workers, we often feel that we must provide an answer to all our clients’ questions. Western social work practices dictate that we be very clear and concrete with our answers to these questions and that we respond quickly and then we document it all. Within an Indigenous paradigm, our efforts as social workers shift. This is not to say we abandon all Western social work practices. You still need to follow the policies and procedures of your employer. Our practice with clients should be focused on role

OUTCOMES: How will you know if you are making any positive change? You would need to choose some form of outcome and evaluation but the most common way for Indigenous people to participate is to ask the client themselves. Remember they are the experts in their own lives! There are some great tools to help guide your work in this area. Check out Native Counselling/Bear Paw Media for the video and forms for Cultural Connecting Planning. Hope you find this example of cultural planning helpful. Keep living the good life (miyo pimatisiwin)!

DEREK CHEWKA is the Director of Child and Family Services with Yellowhead Tribal Council and Chair of the ACSW Indigenous Social Work Committee.




Clearing the Air on Conversion Therapy BY JODY-LEE FARRAH, MSW, RSW

CURRENTLY DESCRIBED AS A “hot topic”, conversion therapy has been the subject of headlines locally to internationally, capturing ongoing conversations and debate about the so-called therapeutic intervention. In Alberta, municipal governments are taking action to ban the practice by prohibiting business licenses for those that provide conversion therapy. The provincial government continues to examine their role by weighing their legislative powers to protect Canadians from harmful practices such as conversion therapy, while respecting human rights defined in the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Alberta Minister of Justice, Doug Schweitzer, has stated, “The province opposes and condemns conversion therapy, which is prohibited practice for all regulated health professionals in the province. The totality of these measures constitutes a complete legal ban on the practice of conversion therapy”. The federal government is looking at ways to reform the Criminal Code in order to combat conversion therapy. A Harmful Practice Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, “involves an array of pseudo-scientific interventions that aim to alter same-sex attractions with 12


the goal of promoting heterosexuality (George, 2017; Bright, 2004). Some interventions include the use of medication, religious rites, behavioural, cognitive, and cognitivebehavioural strategies, as well as individual and group counselling.” The term sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE, includes any form of conversion or reparative therapy.

LGBTQ2S+: Commonly used acronym to mean lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and twospirit. The plus symbol is used to include all sexual and gender identities. SOCE refers to any practice seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including, but not limited to, efforts to change behaviours, gender identity, or gender expressions. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), psychiatric

heteronormative perspectives that homosexuality is a mental disorder. However, as a result of advocacy to recognize LGBTQ2S+ civil rights and affirm that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, the APA condemned conversion therapy. The diagnosis of homosexuality was removed from the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973, and in 1990, the World Health Organization followed by removing homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). With historical roots in a framework of mental disorder, relentless oppression of the LGBTQ2S+ population has led to stigma, discrimination, human rights violations, criminalization, violence and death of LGBTQ2S+ people. Stigma and discrimination has had a tremendous impact on the physical and mental well-being of LGBTQ2S+ people, including but not limited to, family rejection, bullying, physical and sexual assault, and suicide. The marginalization and discrimination experienced by LGBTQ2S+ people continues to be a barrier in accessing appropriate health care. The Canadian Psychiatric Association states that “These barriers are compounded by health care providers often lacking the appropriate knowledge and skills around LGBT health.” Worse, LGBTQ2S+ clients reported, “the level of knowledge of health care professionals to be inadequate, the amount of homophobic reactions to their lives to be unethical, and the willingness of the health care system to adapt to their needs to be minimal.”

interventions described as conversion

A Social Work Perspective

therapy are based on long-time

The Alberta College of Social Workers

Advocating for the LGBTQ2S+

(ACSW) accompanies many other professional organizations in opposing all forms of conversion therapy. Interventions reported to suppress or change sexual orientation are harmful practices, not therapy. The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) issued a statement to Canadian social workers and the public strongly condemning any therapy with the goal to repair or change an individual’s sexual orientation, regardless of age. In the USA, the National Association of Social Workers released a position statement asserting that conversion therapy infringes on the guiding principles inherent to social work ethics and values and that the practice of conversion therapy violates the tenets of the social work profession. Most recently, the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers released and implemented “Standards Regarding Conversion Therapy”, which clearly outlines social

workers’ ethical responsibilities to clients and the profession, affirming that in no instance would any involvement with the practice of conversion therapy be acceptable.

community is an important

Social workers are trained professionals who follow a Code of Ethics and adhere to Standards of Practice that guide practitioners. Ethical social work practice is built on the core values and principles of respect for the inherent dignity and worth of persons, pursuit of social justice, service to humanity, and integrity in professional practice. Social workers strongly support evidence-based practice, are committed to doing no harm and respect the individual’s right to selfdetermination. Given the professional accountability to uphold these values and adhere to the professional Code of Ethics, engaging in the practice of conversion therapy in any of its forms is out of alignment with the CASW Code of Ethics and the ACSW Standards of Practice.

ACSW take an active role in the

conversation that needs to continue within the social work community and at the ACSW. In 2015, the Council adopted a resolution stating, “…be it further resolved that the movement towards ending the inequality and oppression of the LGBTQ+ community”. Condemning oppressive practices is advancing the movement to end inequality and advocating for the rights of LGBTQ2S+ people to live free from oppression and discrimination. For a version of this article that includes references, please email assocdirector@

JODY-LEE FARRAH is the Associate Director, Professional Practice & Advocacy, at the Alberta College of Social Workers. THE ADVOCATE



Public Register of Social Workers BY SUZANNE MACKINNON, MSW, RCSW

Public Register as Legislative Requirement In Alberta, the self-regulation of social workers is authorized by the Health Professions Act. Section 33 of the Act mandates that regulatory colleges must establish a register of members that is viewable by the public. Recent amendments to the Act have increased transparency regarding social worker registration status and discipline. As a result, ACSW staff have been working diligently to amend the public register to meet the current legislative requirements. The content and format of the register has evolved throughout the years. The original register listed the names of registered, inactive, and retired members and in the past, was mailed to members. With the introduction of the Health Professions Act, the register expanded and became publically available. The public register went online and has become known as “Find a Social Worker” ( public). It allowed the public to searchh for actively registered social workers (RSWs), see RSW numbers, and see practice enhancements (authorization for restricted activity, clinical registry, approved clinical supervisor) obtained by registered social workers. Changes to “Find a Social Worker” The new version of the “Find a Social Worker” register is changing and 14


expanding again to meet the new requirements of the Act. Some of the changes include:

Practice Limitations and Discipline

The nature of the practice limitations

listing all currently and previously registered social workers;

Where practice limitations exist, they will be noted on the register. can be temporary or permanent and can vary broadly, such as, additional annual reporting requirements,

current status (active, inactive, suspended, cancelled);

current registry type (general, provisional, courtesy);

if there is a practice limitation;

if the RSW is subject to discipline; and

note there is a disciplinary action if a

identification if the RSW is subject to discipline as a result of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.

subject to disciplinary sanctions or

Registry and Registration Status

working only within a specific segment of the profession, specific requirements to maintain fitness to practice, etc. The “Find a Social Worker” register will registered social worker is currently has outstanding sanctions. The details of the disciplinary action will not appear on the online register unless there is a publication order. In these cases, the discipline decisions will

The new “Find a Social Worker” register will provide additional information to potential clients or employers that will clearly identify if the registered social worker is on the provisional registry. Those on the provisional registry have not yet met all the registration requirements for the general registry (e.g., 1500 supervised practice hours, passing the entry-to-practice exam).

also be available through a link on the

The registry will indicate when a registered social worker is inactive and does not have an active practice permit. When an RSW has their practice permit administratively suspended for not completing their renewal, it will be reflected on the register until the renewal is complete or cancelled. When registration is cancelled, either by request of the RSW or by the College, a record will remain on the registry and it will be identified as cancelled registration.

their registration current if they are

registry. These changes help us meet our requirements under the regulatory requirements of the Health Professions Act, empowers professional social workers to self-regulate, and are aligned with our ethics and values. While registered social workers are ethically and legally obligated to keep their profile up to date and practicing within the scope of social work, it is even more important to ensure our records are accurate. Every registered social worker can do their part to keep our profession strong!

SUZANNE MACKINNON is the Associate Registrar of the Alberta College of Social Workers.


REGISTRATION REMINDERS: • Only RSWs on the general or courtesy registry may provide recognized practice supervision to social work students or other social workers. • RSWs may choose inactive status when they are taking temporary leave from practice and do not require a practice permit. This is typically done for parental or medical leave, or other life changes such as returning to school or travelling for a year. Inactive status temporarily reduces annual costs and registration requirements. • Only actively registered social workers may hold a valid practice permit. • Only a registered social worker with a practice permit is entitled to identify as a social worker or RSW. Only RSWs with a clinical registry practice enhancement are entitled to identify themselves as a clinical social worker or RCSW.




Tools for the Business of Practice BY TERESA WINFIELD, MSW, RCSW

THE REWARDS OF private practice are many: independence, flexibility, the opportunity to focus on practice areas that suit your skills and interests.

of a social work private practice in

With this freedom and opportunity, however, comes the responsibility of being a business owner. This can mean the completion of tasks that social workers don’t necessarily possess the skills and experience to do.

a few different options out there

Maybe the answer for some is to hire an outside professional to do these things for you. An accountant is more than happy to balance your books and complete a yearly tax return for your business. They can offer guidance about what receipts you need to keep and what activities are important to keep track of because hidden deduction “gems” could be the key to holding on to some of the dollars you will earn.

You will also want to confirm that recordkeeping practices are in line with your professional standards

today’s online and social mediadriven world. Lo and behold, such a tool does exist. And there are that allow you to be choosy when it comes to picking an online platform

that best fits your business needs. A few of the ones that I found were: OnCall Health,, E-HIS. com, and OWL Practice. These platforms often come with simple

And what about the need for good record-keeping practices like session notes and reports? Who is there to ensure that you are keeping up with this? Maybe you consult with a colleague from time to time or pay a trusted supervisor to help you out. Or maybe there’s a technology-based answer out there.

introductions and descriptions

I set out to find a business tool that could support the unique needs

a monthly fee and offer simple



as well as more in-depth demos

includes all the bells and whistles for your private practice. As always, it is important to thoroughly investigate the different platforms to ensure that one will fit your needs while also offering a rate that is within your budget. Is there telephone or email support available if you have questions and do they get back to you expediently? You will also want to confirm that record-keeping practices are in line with your professional standards. For example, social workers are not permitted to ask for payment for services up front; rather, they must invoice after the client comes in for a session. All of the activities above are important to creating a healthy and thriving social work private practice. However, they are also services that add to the budget and challenge social workers to stretch their skills in order to be firmly in charge of their businesses. Of course, there are plenty of social workers who complete their billing, notes and reports that old-fashioned way, whether that’s with pen and paper, or with electronic files, and this is fine if it’s what works for you. However, if you’re looking for ways to increase your efficiency, online platforms may be right for you.

that you can do online. They offer a one-stop shop to keep track of appointments, send out reminder notifications, complete invoicing at the touch of a button and run reports that can easily be used for tax purposes. Some collect tracking options, or a platform that

TERESA WINFIELD is a social worker in private practice with 17 years of experience. She specializes in working with youth who have demonstrated sexually concerning behaviours and the families who care for them.


It’s Time for Basic Income BY BRIAN DODD, BASIC INCOME CALGARY Reprinted with permission from Public Interest Alberta’s publication, The Advocate.

A BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE (BIG) program has the potential to lift many Albertans out of poverty, recognize the contributions to society of unpaid caregiving and volunteer work, increase access to opportunity, improve social and health outcomes and protect everyone from the risks of precarious employment, disruptive technology and system change. What do we mean when we say Basic Income? Basic income is a regular, predictable income, universally and unconditionally available to all who need it, sufficient to provide for a decent lifestyle and enable full participation in the community. The basic income concept is not new. We already have effective systems that are essentially a form of basic income. Both the Old Age Security/Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Canada Child Benefit programs are forms of basic income and have improved the lives of millions of seniors and families. From many vantage points, basic income is a policy choice that makes sense. WHY IS BASIC INCOME A GOOD IDEA? Reducing poverty and income inequality. The rise of precarious and part-time work, coupled with weaker redistribution through taxes and transfers, has led to continued widening of the income gap in Canada. What affects one of us, affects all of us, and research has shown us that more equal societies do better on many measures of well-being, from reduced crime to better health, education and economic outcomes. Basic income would decouple income security from employment and bring on a more effective redistribution of income and wealth. Building healthier individuals and communities. Income and health are directly linked to one another, and research has demonstrated that income is the most important factor that affects health and well-being, more influential than health care, genetics or lifestyle. Food insecurity, toxic stress and less-than-ideal living conditions are all by-products of a lack of income, and all contribute to

chronic physical and mental health concerns in Albertans. A basic income would contribute to the improved health and well-being of Albertans. Encouraging job security, entrepreneurship and risktaking. With Alberta’s changing economy and the rise of part-time and precarious work, more people are seeking additional training and education for career shifts, or are finding their place in entrepreneurship or small business ownership. The fast-approaching disruptive technology and system changes associated with artificial intelligence, robotics and climate change will significantly exacerbate these issues. Psychological security is vital in supporting successful career transitions, and a basic income would provide the security net for Albertans to take risks that would ultimately better their lives and the strength of our economy. Basic income would also recognize the unpaid labour of caregivers, volunteers, parents, artists and entertainers, who contribute immense value to fullyfunctioning communities. Respecting human rights and dignity. All people deserve to have their basic needs met, with a safety net and social support system that respects their sense of dignity and autonomy. Social assistance programs do provide last resort income support, but often are focused on monitoring people’s choices and not building relationships with them to support their complex challenges. If income was provided with no conditions, service providers in the public and charitable sectors would be able to focus on the complex issues their clients face and focus on building healthy relationships to support them through solving those issues. Precarious types of employment are already causing millions to live on the edges of poverty, at risk of experiencing it in the event of illness or family crisis. Consensus is building that a basic income program is a key part of a necessary revamping and strengthening of our social safety net. A no-strings attached, predictable and adequate income will protect everyone in the face of rapid changes to the nature of work, and enable us to adapt to and benefit from the coming disruptive technology and system change. It is time to implement a principled basic income program in Canada.

BRIAN DODD is a member of Basic Income Calgary, an action group of the Basic Income Canada Network. THE ADVOCATE








MARCH 26/27/28 2020


Come connect, explore and grow with us. ACSW’s 2020 Conference offers an opportunity to find fresh ideas and innovation with a focus on social work ethics and professional practice. Connect with colleagues and inspiring speakers. Explore what’s new in the social work landscape. Grow your social work practice and celebrate the profession of social work!

Keynote by Vikki Reynolds:


MOVING BEYOND CLIENTCENTRED CARE Choose from a selection of forty-five engaging workshops including:

MENTAL HEALTH • Harm Reduction: Your Ideology Versus My Science • Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice: What is it Really About?

INDIGENOUS PRACTICE • The Limits of Jordan’s Principle: An Ethical Mandate • The Process is the Outcome: Decolonizing Social Work Through Experiential Learning

SELF-CARE • Bounce, Don’t Break… Daring Strategies for Resilience and Self-Care










Conference Photography by Leroy Schulz








• Shame Resilience for Social Workers

SCHOLARSHIP TD Meloche Monnex Scholarships available for ACSW student members The TD Meloche Monnex Student Scholarship provides financial support for ACSW student members to attend the annual conference. Two students will be awarded $250 each. Visit our website for details.







HROUGHOUT HER THREE DECADES AS AN ACTIVIST AND CLINICAL COUNSELLOR, Vikki Reynolds, MA, PhD, RCC, has focused on building bridges between frontline work and social movements. Reynolds is an adjunct professor at City University in Vancouver and a registered clinical counsellor with a strong background in

political activism and clinical counselling. She is focused on social change and offers up her own career and writings as examples of how those in the helping profession can apply a lens of activism to their practice, which in turn transforms the ways they interact with clients and the system. Reynolds is one of the keynote speakers at the Alberta College of Social Worker’s 2020 conference. The other is Todd Leader, RPsych, RSW, a faculty member at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, and a psychologist and registered social worker. Leader has had a markedly different career than Reynolds, yet also focuses on reframing social work, particularly through the concept of leadership and redesigning systems to be truly client-centred. Together, the pair will offer conference attendees two very different, but equally intriguing, entry points into this year’s theme: Connect. Explore. Grow. Changing the Context “I identify as an activist,” says Reynolds at the start of our conversation. “That’s a way better way to understand me.” Listening to Reynolds speak, even just over the phone, is captivating. Throughout the conversation, she weaves together various tangents from her vivid and varied career, which includes leading wilderness trips with criminalized youth based on the Outward Bound model; running Amnesty International’s campaign against the death penalty in the United States; teaching in Botswana while the neighbouring Republic of South Africa was under a state of emergency; and providing clinical supervision and therapy for refugees and survivors of torture,

mental health and substance misuse counsellors, and rape crisis counsellors. “When I became a therapist, it never made sense to me to see people as traumatized or as somehow broken internally,” Reynolds says. “I always knew the problem was in the social world because we haven’t delivered on a just society.” She describes herself as a “lapsed” trauma therapist who approaches therapeutic work as solidarity work. Instead of seeking the criteria of pathology or brokenness within individuals, Reynolds instead situates herself as a political witness to them. “When you bear witness as an activist, it means that you actually have to do something with what you hear – you can’t hide behind professional ideas of confidentiality and neutrality,” she says. “You have to actually take a position for justice and try to change the context in which these social horrors occur.” Changing the context of the system has also been a key part of Todd Leader’s career. Unlike most registered social workers with a psychology background, he has never worked as a clinician. “My interest has always been in looking at broader systems and how we create systems, programs and services that really meet people’s needs in the ways that they need them to,” Leader says.


Having spent much of his career in health care leadership positions, Leader has had lots of opportunities to create and design programs. “In my early years, sometimes they were good and sometimes they sucked,” he says with a laugh. “I paid attention to the things that worked and in the later stages of my career, I started to look at the administrative side of our organizations and challenge whether or not they are really client-centred.” Leader’s experience with these matters is obvious from the quiet confidence that he exudes in conversation, as well as the



care and client-centred systems. As someone who has lived experience with mental illness, he knows firsthand that current systems do not always meet people’s needs.

informative yet down-to-earth ways that he talks about them. One of his biggest successes was working with a team to redesign a mental health and addiction program in such a way that it was indeed centred on the client, in a way that had not previously been seen. He wrote about this experience in his 2016 book, It’s Not About Us: The Secret to Transforming the Mental Health and Addiction System in Canada. “Clients regularly expressed relief and gratitude at being able to get access to help in a timely way,” he explains. “They expressed feeling respected when we would listen to their concerns and then actually make system changes based on their individual experiences. They showed a greater sense of safety and comfort with the idea of ending treatment, because they knew they could get back in, within a reasonable time, if they needed to in future. Previously, there was a norm of trying to stay an active client because they knew they would have to wait for a long time to be seen again if their health deteriorated. Adolescents felt respected and valued because the services came to them, and did not feel abnormal or stigmatized, because the services included low-level, earlyintervention counselling and support instead of just therapy.” Leader explains that there’s a huge difference between client-centred 22


“We throw that term around a lot – everybody claims to be client-centred, but much of the time the programs simply aren’t,” Leader says. “They meet the needs of politicians and finance directors and management. There’s a world of difference between client-centred care, which we hear about all the time, and a clientcentred system.” “In the mental health field, we’re seeing more jurisdictions investing in more walk-in clinics and sameday mental health support – that’s a client-centred approach,” he continues. “Anybody who has experienced mental illness knows that when you need help, you need help now. Getting an appointment for next month or three months from now does not help in any way. There’s no point even giving that appointment; it serves no purpose.” Leader challenges those in the helping professions to examine the systems that they work within. “The real primer question is: are the systems that you work within client-centred?” he says. “And if they aren’t, how do we get there? What are the key things we need to do as individual professionals in order to make that change?” Courage and resistance Becoming frustrated with systems is something that both Reynolds and Leader have encountered. Each of them acknowledges that sticking tightly to your ethics is a critical piece of this work, as well as finding your

own unique way of making changes for the better. “The question that organizes me is how to be of use,” Reynolds says. “I’m always asking people, ‘What’s the best use of you? Where can you make change?’ I think the way to stay useful is to do ethical work and to be in places where you can make change. There are many paths to liberation and many ways to make change. Everybody, where they are, can enact justice.” To that end, Reynolds took a leave of absence from her position as adjunct professor at City University in September 2019. She travelled to various centres across Canada to work with professionals, including social workers, grappling with the opioid crisis. That’s where she was needed at that time, she says, rather than in the classroom. Throughout his career, Leader has seen how the system itself can shift people’s priorities – particularly when they enter management positions. He says it’s vital that people remain focused on why they got into social work in the first place, and for leaders especially to be courageous yet diplomatic. “We need people in leadership roles who are comfortable making waves and who are ready to argue that our job is to put the client before the organization,” he says. “We need leaders that have the courage to stand up and take on that fight – and to have the skill to be able to do it without getting fired. “Anybody can be a pain in the ass about an issue,” he continues with a chuckle. “It takes a particular type of courage and diplomacy to be able to

challenge the hierarchy, to challenge the system effectively but without necessarily torpedoing your career.” Leader’s views on leadership align with Reynolds’ work on solidarity and resistance. Like Leader, Reynolds speaks of her training work as creating cultures of accountability to shift work team culture from staff-centred teams to client-centred teams. “Nobody changes anything alone, which is why I talk about my work as a supervision of solidarity,” she says. “Find out who is in solidarity with you and who is already resisting the structures of oppression. Find the people who you can start to have dialogues with and shift things from where you’re standing – and not in any grand way, like taking down the death penalty [in the U.S.].” “We didn’t take the death penalty down, you know,” she continues, reflecting on her past work. “I never saved one guy from death row, but that doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. It was very meaningful and useful. My resistance was that every one of those men was treated like a human being – by me. That changes how people die.” Justice-doing It was around the 1990s when Reynolds says she really noticed a shift in the way that people approached activism and social movements. And while she worked in many different areas of activism and clinical counselling, it all came back to the same core principles. “Around the 90s, it got really interesting when people started to do intersectional analysis and realized that you have to approach oppression on all fronts,” she

explains. “All the work I’ve done is the same work. It’s all about not delivering on a just society. When you’re qualified as a psychotherapist, you have these ideas about addiction, mental illness and trauma. But for me, this is all about colonization and the interface of patriarchy, capitalism, racism, ableism – all of that stuff. So for me, this work only makes sense from a justice-doing kind of lens.”

or, ‘If the staff feel like working evenings, then we’ll serve people in the evenings’, or ‘Instead of fixing the real system flaws, we’ll impose a standard number of sessions every client can have (regardless of diverse needs).’ I believe those are examples of a violation or negligence regarding our ethical obligation to people, because we’re essentially putting the system needs ahead of the people we’re mandated to serve.”



Intersection has played a key role in Leader’s work too, particularly the intersection between leadership and client-centredness. He sees this as the only way to create a more functional collaboration between different organizations and even between different departments of the same large organization. That’s how to overcome the “us versus them” mentality that’s still so pervasive, and instead focus on what’s best for the client. “For me, this is about ethics and values,” Leader says. “It’s about what we believe is right and finding ways to stand up for it. A public service exists to serve the public as the top priority – not as a secondary thought. It’s not, ‘We’ll serve people’s unmet needs if we have enough money left in our budget,’

“We are not failing to hire good people in these public sector programs,” he continues. “We have many brilliant, selfless, empathic, skilled social workers, nurses, doctors, psychologists. They got into this work for the right reasons. But they end up working in systems that don’t allow them to do things in the way that they believe is right. That’s the part that I’ve been working to change.”

MEL PRIESTLEY is an Edmonton-based freelance journalist who writes about local news and culture as well as theatre, food and wine. She also hosts a weekly podcast about Edmonton theatre called Ghost Light. Find more of her writing and current projects at THE ADVOCATE


What You Need to Know: 2020 ACSW Conference Welcome Event

Call for Vendors

Our Thursday evening welcome event is the time to drop by and pick up your registration package, network and have some fun. Stay tuned for this year’s entertainment details.

Vendors have the opportunity to interact with the hundreds of social workers who enjoy visiting our vendor fair. Take advantage of this chance to network and showcase your products. Vendors can include small businesses, non-profit organizations, employers and more. Spaces are limited. Spread the word!

Join us as we honour our own! Friday, March 27, 2020, from 12 to 1:30 pm, the annual ACSW Awards Luncheon takes place. This is our opportunity to celebrate outstanding social workers. Tickets can be purchased with your conference registration. Pop-in & Learn About Us Find out more about the ACSW and how you can get involved. We will have information tables about various ACSW committees, including our legislative committees and member interest groups. Drop in to our pop-in for popcorn and your chance to win a door prize between 12:15 – 1:15 pm Saturday. Call for Volunteers We need you! Consider volunteering at our conference. Opportunities include: stuffing swag bags, working our registration desk, and greeting conference delegates. Volunteers are eligible for complimentary conference registration. Other Opportunities to Contribute Consider donating to our conference swag bags or door prize raffle! 24


The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton is proud to be the host hotel for the ACSW 2020 Conference. Out-oftown guests are invited to take advantage of our special room rates starting at $159.00. EARLY BIRD CONFERENCE REGISTRATION OPENS DECEMBER 2019. Conference Scholarship for ACSW Student Members The TD Insurance Meloche Monnex Student Scholarship provides financial support to ACSW student members to attend the annual conference. Two ACSW student members will be awarded $250.00 each to put towards their costs of attending the conference. For more information about our conference, visit or contact our Promotions and Events Associate at


ALBERTA COLLEGE OF SOCIAL WORKERS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING NOTICE: The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the ACSW will take place on Friday, March 27, 2020 at 5 pm at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton. Time will be available at the AGM to discuss resolutions. All members are encouraged to attend. If you wish to submit a resolution, please see www.acsw. under About Us – Council by February 7, 2020.

Conference Photography by Leroy Schulz

ACSW Awards Luncheon

Host Hotel


STANDING IN ONE OF THE seven suites at Sage Seniors’ Safe House, Michele Markham folds a handmade quilt and arranges it on the end of the single bed. Light housekeeping is one of the many jobs Markham takes on as manager of the downtown Edmonton shelter. The safe house, run by the Sage Seniors Association, offers secure temporary housing for people over 60-years-old who are leaving abusive situations. Markham leads a team of four social workers, including two coordinators, a follow-up outreach worker and an intensive case manager. “It’s my job to ensure they have the tools, knowledge, skills and support so they can be successful in meeting the objectives of the program and the needs of the clients,” says Markham, who also has a bachelor’s degree in applied human services from MacEwan University. It was the opportunity to shape a brand-new manager position, and the culture of Sage that appealed to Markham when she joined the non-profit in 2014. She brought with her extensive experience in the mental health field — first as a support worker at Bissell Centre and later, as the day program manager with the Canadian Mental Health Association.




On a typical day, managerial responsibilities range from recruitment and supervision to buying weekly supplies for the safe house. If the social workers have their hands full, Markham jumps in to help clients or answer the intake line. Between 30 and 35 seniors stay at the shelter every year to access support after surviving abuse. Financial, emotional or physical abuse are the most common, says Markham, but some seniors also experience neglect, medication or sexual abuse. Nurse practitioners, a psychiatric nurse and a counselling psychologist regularly visit the site, and all meals are provided by Sage. Edmonton has one of the largest urban Indigenous populations in the country, which shapes and informs how Markham and her colleagues practice social work. Approximately one-third of their clients are Indigenous. “We have an Elder who does a talking circle twice a month and he has lived experience with elder abuse,” she explains. “It’s our job to fit the client — to adjust and make sure we do whatever possible to accommodate them.” THE ADVOCATE


help with safety planning and filing emergency protection orders. “When seniors come to the shelter at their most broken and most vulnerable, it’s not just social work support they’re getting. We’re able to plug them in with all these other supports and facilitate their recovery from experiencing abuse,” Markham says.

The issues are very different with a 75-year-old woman who is being harmed by her kids and is looking at possibly living alone.

She worked with one senior, a recent immigrant from India, to create a grocery shopping list through Google Translate. “I went out and made many mistakes. I realized it wasn’t Robin Hood flour she wanted, it was chickpea flour,” she recalls. After Markham delivered everything on the list, including a pressure 26


cooker, the woman was able to cook food that made her feel at home. Going the extra mile isn’t limited to food — Markham and her team step up to help, no matter how big the challenge facing anyone staying at the shelter. One person they worked with hadn’t filed taxes in ten years. Others need

A 2015 national study on the prevalence of elder abuse in Canada estimates 7.5 percent of older adults experience abuse. Markham suggests that number could be closer to 15 percent, given the tendency to underreport. That research, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, takes into account physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse. Markham would like to see more knowledge and awareness around the complexities of older adults experiencing abuse.

Day in the Life photography by Emily Rendell-Watson

The most common misconception social workers have about elder abuse is how prevalent it actually is, says Markham, and that stems from the stigma associated with talking about it.

“The issues are very different with a 75-year-old woman who is being harmed by her kids and is looking at possibly living alone. Her health and income are both challenges to navigate,” she says. Most seniors spend 60 days at the safe house, but the length of their stay depends on how long it takes to get them housing and other support. While there is a waitlist for the shelter, Markham is adamant that if a senior needs a safe place to stay, her team will find them one — at a women’s shelter, a seniors’ shelter in Calgary or a hotel if they can line up income support for the client. When lunch time rolls around each day, the staff gather in one of their two offices to eat together. It happens organically and it’s never forced, but it’s a chance to check in, ask each other questions, run through scenarios, and debrief. “If something is bugging you about a client, you need to look inside and figure out what that is about you. You have to figure out what your biases are,” says Markham. The shared break is one of the many ways Markham fosters a safe environment of collaboration and learning at Sage Seniors’ Safe House. “It’s about having access to the collective wisdom around the table,” she explains. Markham also represents Sage in the community. She attends meetings for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, is a public member of the Mental Health Review Panel (mandated under the Mental Health Act), and is on the advisory committee for the social work program at MacEwan University.

“The boots on the ground job my staff do is supporting the clients, so I do all the other work that gets the issue of elder abuse out into the community,” she says.

is teaching and mentoring students.

When she’s not working, Markham spends time with her husband and their two dogs, Jack and Flynn, or goes long-distance walking to decompress.

house are usually studying social

She’s a member of the Running Room’s Rogue Walkers, and is currently training for the annual Hypothermic Half Marathon in Edmonton.

With staff and students alike,

In addition to supporting her team of social workers, Markham’s passion

choice to work with them.


I used to work with these amazing people when I worked with Chinese seniors impacted by elder abuse. The staff from Sage Safe House always go above and beyond, and worked collaboratively with me and made sure the seniors are well served! Keep it up, Michele and Amanda – Kitty Choi

“I love supporting the students to bring out and hone their skills and their talents,” she says. Students completing practicums at the safe work or occupational therapy at the University of Alberta, Concordia University or MacEwan University. Markham instills the importance of respect in social work. She often reminds her team that it’s the clients’ “The people we serve are sharing their story and choosing to share something of themselves with us,” Markham says. “That’s what makes a good social worker — being mindful that we’re being given a gift.”

EMILY RENDELL-WATSON is an Edmonton-based journalist and photographer. She enjoys reading, storytelling and adventuring in the backcountry with her rescue dog, Abby. THE ADVOCATE



From Practicums to Practice BY KRISTIN BAKER

LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER: THE TWO-WAY STREET OF PRACTICUM SUPERVISION “You can’t have social work education without the practicum,” says Julie Mann-Johnson, MSW, RSW. “Practicum is important. It’s putting the learning into practice and it’s an opportunity for those ‘lightbulb’ moments.” As the Associate Director of Field Education for the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work (Central and Northern Alberta Region), Mann-Johnson knows that one of the most critical aspects of an education in social work is the practicum. It provides hands-on, immersive learning for students and allows them to apply learned theories to real-life scenarios. Every student will complete at least one practicum before they graduate from an accredited social work diploma or degree program. Some will complete several, depending on their educational requirements and personal goals. Alternately referred to as field education, practicums are an important and often transformative learning opportunity on the path towards becoming a social worker.

“Fit is huge for practicums,” says Mann-Johnson. That’s why the first step in the practicum process is to 28


This article is the first of two about social work practicums. In the winter edition, we will explore students’ experiences with their practicum placements.

determine a student’s interests and goals. “We can think about where learning opportunities are best suited for students or where personalities will fit,” she says. This approach is also used by Tracy Orr, MSW, RSW. As an instructor at Portage College, she also coordinates practicum placements. “It does help to know the students and their desires and the practicum placements so that we can make the best possible fit for students,” she says. Both Orr and Mann-Johnson then try to match the student to one of the agencies with whom their respective institutions – and they themselves – have formed relationships. Since social work has many different areas of practice, the placements can be with a variety of agencies. “We rely a lot on our relationships in the community, our alumni and field instructors who have come forward in the past and have had good experiences,” says Mann-Johnson. “So much of social work is relational, and in the field, it’s highlighted even more.”

Student supervising brings you back to thinking about practice and why you got involved in the first place.

This significant piece in the development of a future social worker involves the time, effort and dedication of many parties. There’s a practicum placement coordinator who helps to find and match the student to a placement, an agency willing to take a practicum student, and, within that agency, a practicum supervisor who volunteers to oversee and guide the student.


Finding or creating opportunities for their students’ practicum placements is an ongoing process.

“We’ll connect with agencies in our area and ask if they’re willing to have a student placed with them. We also have connections with social workers in different agencies,” says Orr. “The places that take our students have been so good, and they also benefit from having our students.” Students are usually placed with an agency that fits them (and vice versa), but there are challenges. Orr says that due to Portage College’s rural location, their social work diploma students may be placed quite widely geographically or possibly with a supervisor who is not a registered social worker (the college holds weekly group

supervision sessions with an RSW for these students).

the pulse and share that information with our students

There can be additional constraints to finding placements. Accreditation requirements vary between diploma, BSW and MSW programs and practicum student policies vary from agency to agency. This can mean that some programs and agencies only allow staff members with certain qualifications or experience levels to supervise students. Agencies may also experience intermittent staffing or program changes. All of this can limit the number of potential supervisors available to oversee practicum students.

because they can have a lot of anxiety about doing their

“As field coordinators, we’ve built relationships with agencies and know how to navigate their different processes,” says Mann-Johnson. “We keep our finger on

physical space at their agency to accommodate another

practicum and what it means. We try to get as much current info about where things are at in the field to alleviate some of that anxiety.” It’s not just students that might have reservations about a practicum. Orr and Mann-Johnson, both of whom have practicum supervisory experience as well, say many potential supervisors are apprehensive about taking on the role. They may think it will take time from their already packed schedules, they don’t have enough person, or they’re not sure they have enough work to offer a practicum student. THE ADVOCATE


“These are all myths,” says Mann-Johnson. “Certainly, a student takes time and commitment, but one of the things I recognized when I was a field instructor was that it might be heavy in time at the beginning but by the end of practicum, it tapers off a bit,” she says. “It shifts as the student learns. The students do baby steps towards a place where they’re more independent.” Julie Mann-Johnson

Once a student is matched to a supervisor, together they create a practicum learning agreement (or plan) that ensures the student’s learning needs and educational requirements will be met during their placement. A

Share a student! Consider co-supervision with a colleague supervisor will also spend a certain amount of time per week directly supervising the student.

Tracy Orr

“Every student and their supervisor will create a list of goals and tasks that will be part of their practicum,” says Orr. “Student experiences vary widely depending on the kinds of activities that are available and what their role will be in the agency.”

Peter Smyth

Mann-Johnson notes that both supervisors and students are supported throughout the practicum. Supervisors can attend orientation sessions and workshops and have access to a faculty liaison should they encounter any issues. That same faculty liaison regularly visits the workplace to ensure the practicum is going smoothly. A supervisor’s work colleagues can also help. “The colleagues in your organization are also vital to the student’s learning,” she says. “Students can have positive learning experiences if they have the opportunity to spend time with lots of people, not just their field instructor.” Orr encourages potential supervisors who are employed part-time or who may not have enough work for a practicum student to consider co-supervision with a colleague.

Tanie Reid-Walker



“Share a student! It’s good for them as well because they can see different areas of practice,” she says.

Depending on their learning plan and goals, practicum supervisors are eligible to receive up to 20 continuing competence credits. But supervision can have other benefits as well. “I love to watch people grow and find their strengths, so having a student is awesome,” says Tanie ReidWalker, BSW, RSW. She is a Counsellor with Family and Community Support Services in the Lethbridge area and has supervised approximately 20 practicum students over the past 10 years. “Sometimes, I find I can get into repetitive patterns of doing things and having a student shakes that up and makes me reassess some of the things that I’m doing,” she says. Devoting time to the growth of another social worker is a way for Reid-Walker to give back to the profession. “The practicum experience was really valuable for me, so I like to pay it forward,” she says. “I really enjoy the energy of students and I like the collaboration and fresh ideas.” Reid-Walker works rurally and doesn’t have a dedicated office. This doesn’t dissuade her from supervising students, though. A lot of her practicum supervision has taken place during the long drives to clients’ homes. “It’s a lot of in-vehicle conversations!” she says. “Student supervising brings you back to thinking about practice and why you got involved in the first place,” says Peter Smyth, MSW, RSW. “It’s definitely a two-way street.” Smyth is a Specialist for High Risk Youth Services with Edmonton Region Children’s Services. He has supervised about 25 students throughout his career. For him, supervision offers the opportunity to show students what working for Children’s Services is like and to help them determine if it might be a good fit for them postgraduation. It’s also a way for him to stay current about what future social workers are learning in school.


CONTACT YOUR LOCAL SOCIAL WORK PROGRAM ABOUT BECOMING A PRACTICUM SUPERVISOR! • Earn up to 20 continuing competency credits. • Stay connected to your profession. • Enjoy the opportunity to think about your practice and stay current with new ideas. • Give back to the social work profession.

that they attend, or they want to practice outside their scope of practice,” Orr says. “There are lots of things that students may or may not be able to do depending on their level of education and the placement they’re in.” For example, Reid-Walker notes that students sometimes think they will have more of a client base than they end up getting. “In our practicums with BSW students, they stay close to their supervisor and don’t get a lot of one-onone client time,” she says. She does have them assist her with family work and appreciates their help and perspective. “It’s really nice to have someone with me on those kinds of visits,” she says. Supervising a practicum student has so many positives, they tend to outweigh the challenges. “Most of the field supervisors I know of have enjoyed having a student and some of our recent grads are now taking on a practicum student themselves,” says Orr. “There’s an enthusiasm and energy that students can bring to a practicum that’s contagious. It animates the practicum placement and becomes a place where the supervisors are learning from their students as well.”

“It keeps me grounded to what’s important,” says Smyth. “I like having conversations around ethical practice and boundaries, and what practice means to them. It gets me thinking about my practice as well.” Of course, practicums come with learning curves and challenges. “Oftentimes students may come in with misconceptions about what social work is given the practicum placements

KRISTIN BAKER is a communications consultant based in Edmonton. She’s active in her community and often can be found reading or running.





Dina Klopp, with donor Gary Nissen


In creating the ISA, the Faculty of Social Work will also be

Last summer the Faculty announced the launch of an innovative program that they hope could one day help to transform the social work profession in Canada.

language in the academy’s curriculum.

The program is called the Indigenous Scholars Academy (ISA), and the goal is to partner with young Indigenous adults who have aged out of foster care, and provide the necessary cultural, economic and academic support to pursue their Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Calgary.

increased recruitment, admission, enrolment, retention

“Last fall, our faculty hosted the first annual National Child Welfare Conference with the provincial and territorial directors of child care,” says Dr. Jackie Sieppert, PhD, RSW, Dean of the Faculty of Social Work. “We heard about the need for structural change within social work and in our country. I believe this innovative program could be a meaningful step towards achieving some of these goals.”

reshaped with the goal of preserving Indigenous culture by integrating Indigenous perspectives, histories and “In consultation with traditional knowledge-keepers, we intend to create, implement and evaluate practices for the and success of Indigenous students,” Sieppert says. “Our goal is to ensure that the [faculty’s] infrastructure and curricula respect Indigenous cultural protocols, minimize barriers to student engagement, and increase opportunities to work with Indigenous communities as authentic and equal learning partners.” The launch of the ISA program was made possible thanks to a $125,000 donation by Calgary philanthropist Gary Nissen, the former head of Dome Britannia Properties, and current CEO of Canadian Avatar Investments. Nissen is a longtime champion for Inn from the Cold, and Big Brothers and Sisters, reflecting his passion for helping

As most social workers know, First Nations, Inuit and Métis children under age 14 make up 52.2 percent of all children in Canadian foster care. In Alberta, a staggering 73.4 percent of children in care are Indigenous.

young people and families. “I like to support initiatives

“The scholars we’ll be recruiting are experts in the child welfare system through their lived experience,” says Sieppert. “Who better to lead needed change in Canada’s child welfare system than someone who has lived it? In a way, this program isn’t really ‘for them’ — it really will be ‘by them.’ I think it could be transformational.”

Academy at

Social work’s Indigenous Scholars Academy will also help to address the issue of under-representation of Indigenous youth in post-secondary education. 32


that give young people a hand up, not a hand out, so the Indigenous Scholars Academy felt like a natural fit.” You can donate to the Indigenous Scholars IndigenousScholarsAcademy. This year the Faculty’s Positive Disruption events ( home/alumni) will also include an optional donation to the ISA.

DONALD MCSWINEY is the manager of Communications and Marketing in the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work.



IT’S SEPTEMBER AT MacEwan University and the

How do you know what you know?

hallways are vibrating with excitement. Eighty-five

As a school, we understand that our students come new students are entering the first year of their social into our program with varying levels of experience and work diploma. Over the next few weeks, they will be understanding with and about Indigenous peoples. engaged in many orientations, one of which is our Regardless, our approach is that we start from the two-day Indigenous Knowledge workshop. Since 2011, beginning. The beginning refers to Indigenous peoples’ our school has made a commitment to our students in creation stories, worldviews, ethics, and ceremony. I want to be clear that I do not represent all Indigenous peoples. I honouring Indigenous peoples, the land our University am nehiyaw iskewew, a Cree woman, so what I share will be was built on, and relationships with Indigenous peoples. from that understanding. Furthermore, When I joined MacEwan in 2015, I was I do not represent all Cree women; I invited to lead this workshop, amongst can only share what I know from what many other Indigenous-focused I have experienced. I only know what learning sessions within the School of Social Work and university. Indigenous peoples have I know because of the folks in my life who have been brave and open to existed for thousands of sharing what they know. Sounds like Workshop nerves Next week, I will be delivering this years and the learning the basics of knowledge transmission, session for the fourth time, and in about who we are, in all of yes? I ask the students how they know preparation, I feel the excitement and what they know. If they have learned nervousness sink in. As self-identifying our beauty and resilience, about Indigenous peoples, which many and visibly Indigenous, I recognize identify that they have, who provided is equally important. that I am in a particularly vulnerable that learning? Students often discuss their learning in secondary school or university courses, position while guiding students through a chronological or maybe a cultural competency course. The reality is history of the relationships between Indigenous folks that many of our students come into the program with an and settlers. I grew up on the reserve and am a daughter understanding of Indigenous peoples that has been taught to of a residential school survivor and experience daily them by a settler, within the construct of public education. reminders of our collective losses. Of course, this isn’t all Let me be clear that I do not disagree with the importance that I am, but it is important for me to acknowledge that of education about Indigenous and settler relationships in this is, in fact, part of who I am. Why is this important? public education. I also want to be clear that if this is the Well, as an Indigenous social worker who has practised only foundation of learning that students are exposed to, in various fields of work, I can never ‘take a break’ from the understanding of who we are is validated through a learning how our relationships impact us. If you are colonial context. If social work students start learning about wondering how this connects to the two-day session, I’m getting there, I promise.

Continued on next page



Continued from previous page

Indigenous peoples at the point of contact with settlers and all that followed, Indigenous peoples’ existence is only being validated through that contact. Indigenous peoples have existed for thousands of years and the learning about who we are, in all of our beauty and resilience, is equally important. Challenging colonialism Now, back to the reason behind that vulnerability I spoke of earlier. There is a narrative that rears its head often of “Too much Indigenous content,” “I know about this already,” “We are talking about residential schools AGAIN?”. Yes, yes we are. The repeated conversation or invitation into a conversation is important because we hear things differently as adults compared to when we were in grade 7. We want our students to engage in a “backward looking” process where we learn or unlearn what we need for ethical practice. We, as a school, have a duty to provide education that upholds diversity, equity and inclusion. During this twoday workshop, students are invited into discussion that challenges our current colonial state, how social work has played a role within colonization, and what we can do within our practice to dismantle colonial structures. As you can imagine, these conversations are not easy. As a facilitator of this process, I am hyperaware of my own emotional regulation and the emotional regulation of 85 others.

This process of learning is an act of decolonization within itself! Students participate in ceremony at the beginning, followed by challenging conversation, and complete the days with hearing from Indigenous practitioners who are utilizing their traditional knowledge every day in Child and Family Services, corrections, health care, and within the university. The students also have an opportunity to hear from Indigenous storytellers who share traditional dance and singing to demonstrate the many ways of healing. It is important to note that this workshop is not a “one-off” learning session. Our program is dedicated to ensuring that Indigenous knowledge, or practice with Indigenous peoples, is incorporated within our classrooms. After all, social workers within Alberta are not exempt from working with Indigenous peoples. It is also important to mention that I do not do this alone. There are always many others supporting the work; the collaboration makes this highly successful.

ocapihkêsîs AMBER DION is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at MacEwan University.

THE ADVOCATE EDITORIAL POLICY The Advocate is the official publication of the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) and is published quarterly for members of ACSW and other interested parties. The Advocate Editorial Board encourages submissions from all social work practice areas and perspectives, including: social work research, theory, practice, and education; professional affairs; social issues; the work of the College; member activities; continuing education and job opportunities; reviews of books, journals, and other media of interest to social workers. Articles of up to 1000 words and letters of up to 500 words will be considered, but publication is not guaranteed. Writing from social workers who are ACSW members will be given preference. Copy may be edited to fit the space available or for legal or other reasons. Please contact the ACSW office for full submission guidelines. PUBLICATION SCHEDULE AND DEADLINES Spring issue: Summer issue: Fall issue: Winter issue:

January 1 deadline for general submissions (articles, letters, etc.) April 1 for general submissions July 1 for general submissions September 1 for general submissions

January 15 for advertising April 15 for advertising July 15 for advertising September 15 for advertising

ALL SUBMISSIONS The Advocate, ACSW, 550 10707 100 Avenue NW, Edmonton AB T5J 3M1 ATTN: Charity Lui: • PHONE: 780-421-1167 • TOLL-FREE: 1-800-661-3089 • FAX: 780-421-1168 34



The Advocate’s For Your Information section gives preference to Alberta-based educational opportunities and non-profit events for social workers. Send your submissions to Carlena Johnson at

2020 Alberta College of Social Workers Conference Connect. Explore. Grow. March 26 – 28, 2020 Edmonton DoubleTree by Hilton, click Social Workers tab, then Annual Conference 12th Annual Autism Conference Children’s Autism Services of Canada January 23 – 24, 2020 Edmonton This conference will showcase guest speakers and experts focusing on practical classroom and home-based strategies, caregiving and recent research topics and trends.

Canadian Domestic Violence Conference 6 March 3 – 6, 2020 Halifax


A national showcase of grassroots initiatives that address intimate partner violence.


https://canadiandomesticviolenceconference. org/ Life My Way – Living Well with Dementia June 8, 2020 Camrose Gain insight on dementia and hear about the importance of creating meaningful engagement. Learn about research on the Butterfly Approach culture change. Save the date and look for registration details in the ACSW mass emails in 2020. 2020 World Social Work Conference

Alberta Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health Edmonton Social Planning Council Friends of Medicare Public Interest Alberta Parkland Institute

13th Annual Western Indigenous Consultation & Engagement

The Global Social Work Agenda: The Next Ten Years

February 19 – 20, 2020

July 15 – 18, 2020



A non-partisan platform for making connections and getting conversations started.

Join the conversation and shape the future of the social work profession and its impact in creating national and global social solutions.


For the Spring 2020 issue of the Advocate is January 2, 2020


All editorial inquiries to Charity Lui

AD DEADLINE For the Spring 2020 issue of the Advocate is January 15, 2020 Visit the ACSW Events Calendar to find more training, events and workshops, at, Social Workers tab, Calendar of Events.

All ad inquiries to





Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.