Evidence-based Winter Magic

Wow, what a year!  How can we possibly repair all the damage from recent economic and political storms?

And yet these darkest days around Winter Solstice should serve to remind us all that things do come around.  One of the great marvels of life to defy the icy onslaughts in Madison and Washington is the resilient spirit of social workers!  In my travels as a field liaison for UW-Milwaukee students and the surrounding community, I am so privileged to learn about many wonderful new program developments.

Last week I spent time at Veteran Quest, an innovative agency in southeastern Milwaukee which serves veterans and their families with an array of therapies such as massage, meditation, Reiki, yoga and group work (including an LGBT focused group). It is the design and initiative of Murray Bernstein, MSW, PhD, who you may recall received the Lifetime Achievement Award at our annual conference in September. Murray’s approach uses an interweave of evidence based clinical assessments to benefit veterans and their families/significant others. Its array of therapies continues to be studied and evaluated for their efficacy and lasting effect on the individuals involved.

The renovated convent used by this group has a homelike feeling to it — especially the kitchen that serves to let vets make connections with one another in a non-threatening environment. An old feminist rant used to be “Out of the kitchen and into the streets!” but I think now it’s about using kitchens as places to bring people together who have suffered the extremities and long-term effects of war and its related traumas.

Likewise, I was heartened to see an innovative program at Curative Care Network affording social workers greater flexibility with families in crisis. The success of the program was evidenced by the families’ participation in the groups and the social workers’ enthusiasm for their jobs.

Let us use this time of introspection imposed by the Wisconsin climate to incubate new visions and opportunities for all. Happy 2012. Forward Wisconsin!