Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Workshop 3: The unique challenges for social workers in a global shared traumatic reality – the case of COVID-19
Wednesday, 16/June/2021:
4:30pm - 6:00pm

Location: Parallel Session 3

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The unique challenges for social workers in a global shared traumatic reality – the case of COVID-19

Orit Nuttman-Shwartz1, Rachel Dekel2, Silvia Fargion3

1Sapir College, Israel; 2Bar Ilan University , Israel; 3Trento University, Italy

When the novel coronavirus began to spread, many countries mandated lockdowns, quarantines, and social distancing, posing a threat to both service users and social workers and representing a “shared traumatic reality” (STR). An STR is something that may be experienced by professionals and clients during traumatic events such as natural disasters, mass shootings, street violence, and war or terror attacks. With the outbreak of the pandemic, many professionals including social workers moved to “online service,” a mode that decreases the asymmetry between service users and professionals and which might increase the sense of having an STR. To deal with the multiple practical challenges presented by the current global STR and especially with the ongoing consequences of COVID-19, we are proposing a workshop that focuses on the challenges for social work professionals who work in local and global shared traumatic realities. We hope to offer short- and long-term help for both seasoned professionals and novice social workers.

The aim of the workshop is to enhance participants' knowledge of the STR concept, which consists of three aspects: traumatic experience; professional growth and skills; and how to use these skills when addressing people’s needs. In addition, by using participants’ own experiences, we will help them to explore the concerns shared by them and their clients in light of the traumatic reality, as well as to identify obstacles which may limit their ability to create a professional relationship. Finally, we will offer a suitable intervention and how to cope with the STR in order to promote effective intervention. At the workshop’s end, based on the group discussion, the facilitators will relate to the shared experience of feelings of uncertainty, fear, and the risk of isolation. We will also talk about recommended practices intended to promote a sense of professional community and shared resilience that can support and strengthen present and future social workers. These matters will be discussed within the framework of the facilitators' own experiences and the research they have conducted in Italy and in Israel.

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