March 27, 2012

UCLA MSW Program: Winter Quarter Class Reviews

Due to the time demands of my clinical internship at a Community Mental Health Center, I decided to only take two "real" classes this past quarter. I selected a health policy class and a direct practice class, in addition to my independent study research class (2 credits each quarter) and my field internship. By front loading a heavier schedule in fall quarter, I was afforded the luxury of taking less classes during the winter and spring quarters. As an MSW student about to start looking for a job, I find it extremely beneficial to have a lighter academic schedule to free up some time to research agencies, go on interviews, etc.

Below is a brief review of the classes I took this quarter. As I always mention, the following is a synopsis of my experience of academic classes within UCLA's MSW program, and does not represent other students' opinions. 

290M Health Policy and Services: This class is designed to provide students with an introduction to topical issues about health care financing, delivery, and reform. A significant amount of time was spent deciphering major public health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to analyzing their relationship to issues of access, quality, and cost of care to diverse and vulnerable populations. As someone who wanted to learn more about the Affordable Health Care Act, I found this class extremely helpful in deciphering changes to our country's convoluted health care system. Additionally, a portion of each class was devoted to newspaper articles related to health care. In addition to its focus on contemporary issues, I thoroughly enjoyed the student diversity. Because the class is cross-sectioned as a public health class, about half the students were from other disciplines.

Average reading/week: 75-120 pgs
Texts: Introduction to U.S. Health Policy: The Organization, Financing, and Delivery of Health Care in America, various online articles
Major Assignments: Debate summary and presentation, country summary and presentation, take-home final exam
Caveats: Class lectures from the professor ran about an hour and a half to two hours before switching over to debates or newspaper article reviews. Students might benefit if lectures were slightly more interactive.

231G Substance Abuse Intervention: Given its prevalence and severity among populations that social workers engage with, I was very much looking forward to taking a course about substance abuse and dependence. Luckily, this class did not fail to disappoint my expectations. This class was a great introductory course to the concept of substance abuse, in addition to learning how to assess and provide interventions to affected individuals. Katrina Dornig, the instructor of the class, was excellent, not only due to her broad base of knowledge about substance abuse, but her extensive experience treating individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders. I very much appreciated her insights and accounts from first-hand experiences. Additionally, I enjoyed the variation in classes, with a mix of field visits, guest lectures, in-class exercises, and video recorded mock therapy sessions. Overall, an excellent class.

Average reading/week: 100-200 pgs
Texts: Dual disorders: Counseling clients with chemical dependency and mental illnessRethinking Substance Abuse: What the science shows, and what we shoulddo about itRecovery options, in addition to various internet articles. 
Major Assignments: 12 Step meeting visit plus reflection, motivational interviewing mock therapy video plus reflection, midterm research paper, and in class final exam.
Caveats: The professor of the course is not the easiest grader. Some students were also surprised by questions included on the final exam. Keep in mind that the final exam review sheet is a guide, and not comprehensive. 

March 20, 2012

You. Social Justice. Thailand Summer 2012

Interested in volunteering abroad while also learning about social entrepreneurship and social activism? A Jewish organization called JustIFi might have the perfect opportunity for you. JustIFi recently announced dates for summer trips abroad to Thailand. The trips are designed to provide participants with opportunities to study the human trafficking trade, work directly with local non-profits, and to engage with Thai children who have been directly afflicted. To apply, please fill out an application here.

March 5, 2012

Psychology Tools: Case Formulations, Info Sheets, and Therapy Worksheets

Therapy Worksheets' most recent post is about Psychology Tools, a great website with a ton of free materials for psychologists and therapist to share and utilize in session. The majority of materials are through a CBT lens, with several case conceptualizations, diagnosis information sheets, and other useful tools available to download for free.

I think I saved over ten information sheets in my therapy toolbox within the first five minutes of perusing the site. Below are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!
Formulation Problem

Thoughts and Depression

Unforgiveness Hook Metaphor