Q What does it take to be a good social worker?
A One of the most important characteristics of a good social worker that I always come back to is the ability to tolerate ambiguity. I look for this skill and identify it in students as well as in staff. It is absolutely an essential element in working with all ages and populations. There is so little that is absolute and fixed in our work with clients. We must be comfortable with the need to be as open and flexible as possible, always in problem solving mode, open to new information and able to accept that we do not have all the answers. There are endless options and solutions available and never one direct fixed course of action.
—Rosann Corcoran, LCSW, Manager of CJE Counseling Services
Q What distinguishes social workers and their work and how are CJE’s social workers unique?
A Most unique to social workers’ training is a focus on “person in environment.” We are trained to assess and understand how to intervene at the level of the individual, with their family and support system, and around the material factors that affect their life during the aging process. We understand the interplay between one’s social circumstances, including poverty, food or housing insecurity, and social isolation. And we work actively in all these arenas to help older adults as they adapt to aging. Our team of social workers at CJE have decades of combined experience working in a wide range of capacities throughout CJE. A number of our social workers also teach courses on mental health and aging at the university level and supervise graduate students in social work in internships at CJE, reflecting our commitment to training the next generation of social workers as well.
—Sharon Dornberg-Lee, LCSW, Clinical Supervisor
Q How do social service workers help in Consumer Assistance?
A I like to think that the work of our Care Management and Consumer Assistance teams are related: We strive to honor the dignity of our clients while helping them meet their concrete needs. Social service work takes many forms: counseling, advocacy, case management, policy work, and administration. In Consumer Assistance, advocacy takes the form of referrals, financial help, and information that guides clients’ decision-making related to their basic needs, such as health insurance. We may also intercede for individuals who are unable to advocate for themselves. For example, many people have difficulty navigating health care systems when something goes wrong, such as a billing error.
—Sheryl Rubel, Resource Associate
Q Can you explain the work of the Holocaust Community Services counselors and care managers at CJE?
A As professional wearing both HCS counselor and care manager hats and serving survivors, it is even more important to establish relationships with them by getting to know them, both their past and current situation. In counseling, I can use more creativity, and apply holistic approaches exploring their feelings, coping skills, and provide emotional support. In my care manager role, I also take a little bit of time to get to know my client and approach each survivor and their needs individually. Also, communicating in a transparent and consistent manner helps to work on their issue.
—Vera Rodriguez Mancera, Counselor and Care Manager
A When working as a HCS care manager, I have found that it is important to have core knowledge and experience related to aging and elder care. As a care manager I need to be able to evaluate clients comprehensively and tailor care to their individual needs. At the same time, it is extremely important to have cultural competence by understanding the impacts of Holocaust trauma on survivors and its implications for working with them.
—Kseniia Asefa, Care Manager
A Working for HCS is often unique because there are many clients who either do not have family nearby or do not have families at all. These clients require not only monthly services, but they really depend on their care managers for emotional support as well. Sometimes they call just to hear a friendly voice, to ask an opinion or just to call someone to talk to. Some of our survivors depend on the care managers more than on their own families who might have very little time for them.
—Leah Rosenberg, Care Manager
We invite you to help us celebrate CJE’s social service workers and social service workers everywhere, as we look forward to our journey of healing, inclusion, support, and life enrichment of our older adults and their caregivers. If you are in need of therapy or a support group, contact Counseling Services at 773.508.1000.