All Volume 3.1 | Spring 2013

Recent Articles of Note

Staying current with scholarship enriches the work of field educators: it teaches us innovative ways to solve perennial field problems, suggests new readings for field seminars, keeps us abreast of current debates in social work education, and even inspires us in our own writing on theory and research. “What We’re Reading” presents our brief summaries of the findings of recent publications in field education. Our emphasis is on implications for practice. Readers are encouraged to suggest articles or books for future review. Whenever possible, we have provided links to freely available fulltext articles.

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Hail and Farewell: Ginger Robbins

Field directors come and go. Although CSWE does not keep statistics on the average tenure of field directors, many of us suspect it is five years or less. Then we have Virginia Cooke “Ginger” Robbins, who was a field director for 36 years, the last 27 of which were spent at at University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (UH GCSW). Ginger retired on January 31, 2013, with the academic rank of clinical professor.

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Remembering Patty Gibbs Wahlberg

The field education community mourns the loss of Patty Gibbs Wahlberg who died March 2013. Most recently Dr. Gibbs Wahlberg directed the  BSW program at East Tennessee State University. She was known nationally for her publications and presentations on social work education  including research on gatekeeping and on professional values and ethics.


Field Educators Help Enact Safety Legislation in Massachusetts

In February 2013 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted legislation that creates guidelines to promote social work safety in the workplace. Massachusetts field educators and field directors played a key role on the statewide task force convened by NASW MA that worked on the legislation.
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Kudos: Illana Perlman, MSW

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At the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work (FIFSW), University of Toronto, we have had the good fortune to witness breakthroughs — innovations that occur when experience combines with passion. It has been my pleasure to work with a field instructor who demonstrates this combination. Illana Perlman holds the critical role of Educational Coordinator at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, a bustling teaching hospital in Toronto. Illana collaborated with FIFSW in developing a rotational practicum model, and has made impressive contributions to field education scholarship.

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The Art of Self-Disclosure


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As a social work student, I am frequently conflicted about the use of self in a therapeutic relationship with a client. For me, there seems to be a delicate balance between establishing a trusting, congruent therapeutic alliance with the client and the possibility of sharing too much personal information, which could unintentionally impede the healing process. I have always been wired this way, and even as a toddler, I would crawl under the public restroom stalls and tell strangers my life story. For many years I facilitated women’s group Bible studies, which operated in a way similar to a support group. The topics typically would incorporate many self-help techniques, which were grounded in a biblical foundation. To provide a safe environment, encourage conversation, and reduce any power differential that the women may have been feeling, I would often be the first one to self-disclose something. Based on my personality and the habits I had formed from leading Bible studies, I knew the area of self-disclosure would be challenging for me.
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Telling Their Story: Working with Older Adults

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I came to my social work program with plenty of life experience caring for older adults. When I was young, I cared for my grandmother, and volunteered in nursing homes and for the Meals on Wheels program. Later, I cared for my elderly parents for more than ten years. Placing my mother in a nursing home was a difficult decision, but it gave her and me the opportunity to socialize with other seniors. So it was natural for me to ask for an internship working with seniors.

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Off-Site MSW Field Instruction

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Currently, the most common model for field instruction in MSW programs is supervision provided by an MSW supervisor employed at the field placement agency.  However, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) makes allowances for practicum sites that cannot provide on-site social work supervision. Standard 2.1.6 states, “for cases in which a field instructor does not hold a CSWE accredited social work degree, the program assumes responsibility for reinforcing a social work perspective and describes how this is accomplished.”

An off-site MSW supervision arrangement has often been used for macro social work placements and for placements in under-resourced agencies in rural areas.  The use of off-site supervision for urban, micro or clinical practice field settings has been less common until recently; schools have started to adopt these arrangements to accommodate growing enrollments at a time when agency resources are increasingly depleted and underfunded.

This issue’s Conversation explores how one urban school has developed an off-site supervision program for some of its MSW students.

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Comparison of Face-to-Face Vs. Electronic Field Liaison Contacts

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In both the classroom and in field education, the technological revolution has impacted social work education. While electronic resources have expanded opportunities for students, they have also created new challenges for faculty and field instructors with respect to developing effective and efficient ways of conducting the basic tasks of field education. This article reports on the efforts of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Arlington to compare traditional face-to face (F2F) to nontraditional electronic-based field liaison contacts.
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Home Visiting in the Internship

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Historically, social workers and other helping professionals, such as visiting nurses, have intervened on behalf of individuals, families, and communities. Often, these interventions take place in a client’s home. Wasik and Bryant describe home visiting as “the process by which a professional or paraprofessional provides help to a family in their own home. This help focuses on social, emotional, cognitive, educational, and/or health needs & often takes place over an extended period of time” (2001, p. 1). Traditionally, home visits focused on three overarching areas: poverty, infant and child care, and illness (Wasik & Bryant, 2001, p. 1). In the last decade, home visiting has also become a central feature of services such as home-based behavioral health and family wrap-around programs. Home visitors seek to provide child care information, health care, knowledge of community resources, and emotional support. Many social work internships include home visits, but interns are often confused and worried about what this means. Read more »


Providing Clinical Service to Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

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Work with unaccompanied homeless youth is an increasing focus of social work practice. It is estimated that there are between 204,000 and 406,000 unaccompanied homeless youth (ages 12 to 24) in the United States (Abel, 2010; Homeless Research Institute, 2012). These youth have high rates of substance abuse, suicide (Barczyk & Thompson, 2008), and trauma, both in their homes of origin (Kurtz, Kurtz, & Jarvis, 1991; Rew, 2001; Slesnick, Kang, & Aukward, 2008), and on the streets (Fisher, Florsheim, & Sheetz, 2005). With the recent economic recession, their numbers have increased and their needs have become more urgent than ever (Kidd & Scrimenti, 2004; Levenson, 2011). Work with this population is extremely challenging due to the risks of life on the streets, the transiency and unpredictability of being homeless, and the dangerous behaviors in which youth engage. What do social work interns need as they are trained to work with unaccompanied homeless youth? A recent qualitative study of workers serving homeless youth (Mirick & Dean, 2010) indicates several areas where field educators can support interns in work with these clients.

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An Ethical Dilemma in Field Education

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The professional socialization of social workers involves the process of acquiring knowledge and skills, values, attitudes, and professional identity (Miller, 2010). As a field liaison for graduate social work students, one of my responsibilities was to link field placement experiences with classroom work. I accomplished this with seminars, site visits, and review of written agreements, reflections, and evaluations. Barretti (2004) notes that virtually everything faculty and field instructors do and say profoundly influences their students. Professional competencies that lead to professional socialization involve a process where students begin to utilize professional language in their construction of events, and to implement actions to address ethical issues and dilemmas (Dolgoff, Lowenberg, & Harrington, 2009; Holosko & Skinner, 2009; Horner & Kelly, 2007; Manning, 1997). In this paper, I describe an ethical dilemma with respect to research at a field placement. I then analyze the dilemma, and finally discuss how an intern can work toward promoting client self-determination and social justice with respect to a complex dilemma.

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Reflections on LGBT Students in Social Work Field Education

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Abstract: Over the last twenty years, social work literature on practice with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations has grown, and research has begun to emerge about challenges faced by LGBT social work students and practitioners in the field. Using the author’s reflection on her own field experiences as a lesbian social work student almost twenty years ago, this article reviews the ways in which social work education and practice have changed to support these students’ unique concerns, and it details the places where educators and field instructors fail to meet LGBT students’ needs. The author also provides suggestions about ways that the profession can move forward to maximize students’ learning experiences.

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Exploring International Internships in Social Work Education

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Abstract: This study discusses the results of a survey completed by 228 accredited social work programs describing their international field placement opportunities. Responses were aggregated to identify the number and frequency of international placements, the countries where placements occurred, the model used to develop international placements, and the supervision and monitoring of international placements. The benefits and challenges to offering international social work placements are identified, and sustainable resources for promoting the development of international placements are discussed. The information is intended to aid in the future development of international field placements and to encourage collaborative efforts to increase access to such placements.

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Building Culturally Competent Social Work Field Practicum Students through the Integration of Campinha-Bacote’s Cultural Competence Healthcare Model

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Abstract: Using the Campinha-Bacote model of cultural competence, this paper examines the integration of measures for enhancing internship students’ knowledge, values, and skills for work with culturally diverse groups. The paper focuses on four constructs (cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural encounter, and cultural desire) within the model to help field educators move students beyond cultural recognition toward the formation of culturally competent identities. The paper further identifies skill-based interventions, which are aligned with the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) competencies and practice behaviors to aid the internship student in preparing for professional social work practice.

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From the Editor, April 2013

Welcome to the Spring 2013 issue of the Field Educator! We are pleased to be publishing our fourth issue. The three articles in the Field Scholar section address various aspects of diversity in field education. The lead article, by Lori Messinger, Director of Field Education at UNC Wilmington, offers reflections on LGBT issues in social work field education. Patty Hunter and Caitlin Hollis of CSU Chico School of Social Work explore international internships. Alex Colvin of Prairie View A & M in Texas describes the application to field education of the Campinha-Bacote healthcare model of cultural competence.

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2013 Prize for Excellence in Field Education Scholarship

The Simmons School of Social Work and the Field Educator sponsor an annual award to promote excellence in field education scholarship. A $1,000 prize will be awarded for an outstanding paper on social work field education. The winning paper will be announced at the 2013 Annual Program Meeting (APM) of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and will be published in the Fall issue of the Field Educator. All entries must meet the submission guidelines for the Field Scholar section of the Field Educator.

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Call for Papers, April 2013

The “Field Scholar” is the section of the Field Educator devoted to the publication of formal, scholarly articles on theory and research in field education. “Field Scholar” is issuing a call for theory and research papers on a variety of subjects. These subjects include best practices in field instruction, measures of competencies in field, school-agency collaborations and innovative approaches to challenges in field education. These articles will be reviewed for rigor and relevance by members of a panel of noted field educators from the US and abroad; the list of consulting editors can be found in About Us.

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