In a time of unprecedented stress, students and faculty at the University of Texas Arlington School of Social Work have come up with a solution to meet the needs of students both in and out of the classroom.
Marie Salimbeni, Assistant Professor of Practice, together with Assistant Dean for Field Education Dawnetta Smith, oversees UTA’s Virtual Social Work Clinic, which offers graduate student-led virtual support groups for d other mavericks in need of advice.
The clinic originally came together at the start of the pandemic to address two issues. The first was to help social work students get the clinical hours needed to graduate, after COVID-19 closures affected in-person clinics. At the same time, the clinic provided an outlet for UTA students suffering from pandemic-related stress.
“In the social work profession, we are always looking for areas where we can help people,” Salimbeni said. “In this situation, it was about seeing how we could help the students.”
The virtual clinic has counseling groups focused on a variety of areas, including managing conflict, parenting during a pandemic, building better relationships, and maintaining sobriety. The mentors, advanced master’s level students, also gain real-world experience in building a therapy group from scratch.
“They learn what goes into developing a support group, including research techniques,” Salimbeni said. “They go through the process like any professional social worker would if they were to start a group in the profession.”
Elizabeth Buendia, a master’s student in social work focusing on mental health and addiction and group leader of the virtual clinic, said her conversations with the students led her to take a closer look at her own state of health. mind.
“Due to the pandemic, many students have needed support and guidance for things like self-care,” Buendia said. “I think self-care is so important, and it’s something I’m working on for myself as well.”
The virtual clinic aims to help any UTA student who needs help, including online students who may not be able to get to campus.
“We are here to provide support, techniques, and means for students to succeed in the classroom, in their profession, and in life,” Salimbeni said.
UTA community members who have questions about the clinic can email [email protected] Students can refer themselves and faculty members can recommend students who they think would benefit from a group session.