BYU to host Social Work Conference on Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence. It seems like a daunting issue that only comes up in TV shows until it affects a loved one or happens to you. This serious public health problem, and the focus of the 12th Annual School of Social Work Conference, happens to both male and female individuals of all ages, socio-economic statuses, and religious affiliations. BYU Social Work professor and conference organizer Jini Roby states that “because human relationships are the foundation of security and happiness in life, intimate partner violence (IPV) can seriously impair the quality of life. At the extreme end, it is a leading cause of homicide in our country. Without intervention, IPV will impact not only the couple but also the children involved.”

While there is some misconception that Utah and Utah County have lower IPV rates, the area is about average with the national norm. Professor Roby notes that “there is also a greater stigma [here] so victims don’t come forward as readily, allowing the problem to escalate and subjecting children to [the] trauma of witnessing the abuse.” This year’s Social Work Conference, held November 3rd from 8 am to 5 pm in the Wilkinson Center, will

  • help professionals and community members understand the prevalence, dynamics, and impact of IPV on victims, perpetrators, and affected children in the family.
  • improve understanding of IPV on the couple’s relationship and the power dynamics in the family.
  • help individuals understand the research on IPV and how it can be used to develop effective treatment methods for victims, perpetrators, and affected children.

The conference will feature speakers such as

  • Dr. Sandra Stith of Kansas State University, who has written extensively about treating and understanding IPV;
  • Dr. Casey T. Taft of the National Center for PTSD in the VA Boston Healthcare System and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, who serves as Principal Investigator on several grants focusing on understanding and preventing partner violence;
  • Jennifer Oxborrow, the Executive Director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition and an active volunteer with the statewide Crisis Intervention Stress Management team debriefing first responders after traumatic incidents; and
  • Stuart Harper, therapist and Treatment Coordinator at Orem’s Family Support and Treatment Center where he serves children and families whose lives have been affected by abuse and trauma.

For the schedule of when these individuals will present, click here. joseph-gonzalez-273526The Social Work Conference is formatted primarily for clinicians but members of the public are welcome. The conference may be particularly helpful for ecclesiastical leaders, community leaders and members, and family members of those affected by IPV.

When asked what someone could do to help a friend affected by IPV, Roby advised that they let the victim know that being a victim of domestic violence is not their fault. They should know that there are resources that they and their children can plug into. Some of these include:

  • domestic violence hotlines for their area (they can also call 911 if it is an emergency),
  • domestic violence service shelters in 17 cities in Utah ranging from Brigham City, St. George, Blanding and Vernal;
  • counseling,
  • legal services available through service centers.

 

Fulton Winner Researches Substance Abuse Treatment

A 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 24.6 million Americans over 12 years of age had used illicit drugs, and more than 21 million of them were categorized as having substance abuse dependencies. That same report, though, found that only 2.5 million received treatment at a specialty facility. Over one-third of those admitted did not complete their treatment. For an April 2017 mentored research conference at BYU, sponsored by the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, social work student Chase Morgan sought to learn what factors contributed to the length of stay a patient had in treatment. Using data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Chase learned that more affordable treatment was a significant factor in having a longer length of stay in treatment, but having health insurance was not a significant predictor.

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How to Help

He plans to further this research by: “breaking down the data into various treatment settings, mainly in-patient and out-patient to see the difference between those settings.” As a result of the research he’s done so far, he says: “we hope that we can use this information to help treatment facilities throughout Utah be more successful by helping them understand the risk factors they may see in their clients so these things can be addressed, and more clients can have successful treatment.  We also hope this information can help influence policies throughout the state to help clients get into treatment without having to be put on waitlists. “

In the meantime, how can the average person help someone else struggling with substance abuse? Promises Treatment Center advises:

  • Getting educated about addictions
  • Participating in programs included in friend/family member’s treatment, if possible
  • taking care of one’s self
  • Talking about the problem: “Work on building a good relationship, without judging or accusing…You have to step back, you can’t be on top of them all the time, or they won’t trust that they can come to you.”

 For those supporting friends and family currently in treatment, the National Institute on Drug Use state that “it is important to tell friends struggling with addiction that you admire their courage for tackling this medical problem directly through treatment.” They suggest:

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  • assisting friends or family members in avoiding triggers once they leave treatment
  • Giving support and love

The Fulton Conference

Of his experience with the Fulton Conference, he says: “I really enjoyed my experience with the Fulton Conference. This was my first conference ever, so it was a new experience for me.  I feel like I learned a lot and was happy to share my research with others.”

How would you help someone struggling with an addiction?

Students: Five Ways to Stay Sharp This Summer

Summer may be for lazy days and having fun with your friends, but that doesn’t mean you should stop learning! Here are 5 ways to stay sharp and have fun this summer!

Find Your Club!

Even though clubs aren’t very active during the Spring and Summer, you can still sort through them at BYU’s clubs’ website and pick which one you want to join in Fall/Winter! Here are some quick links to more information about clubs within our college:

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Courtesy of BYU Refugee Empowerment Club’s Facebook page

Visit the Museum of Peoples and Cultures!

Learn all about ancient and more modern civilizations at this museum. Current exhibits include Piecing Together Paquimé, which features the remnants of the city from A.D. 1200-1450, and Steps in Style, which features shoes from a plethora of cultures and time periods.

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Courtesy of the MPC Facebook page

Hit up the Library!

Here at BYU, we have one of the best libraries ever! It’s full of cool rooms and exhibits and awesome movies and books. So take time this summer to explore the HBLL and find some great books! Highlights of the HBLL include:

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Courtesy of the HBLL Facebook page

Brush up on your Writing Skills

Whether you’re taking classes this summer or not, you can always improve your writing. FHSS’ Writing Lab offers many tools both on-campus and online to help you with that. Take a few moments to brush up on these skills, so you don’t have to do it in the middle of trying to meet a million assignment deadlines:

  • Formatting a paper Turabian style
  • Structuring your paper
  • Writing a conclusion
  • Citing APA style

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Watch YouTube Videos!

Did you know that FHSS has two YouTube channels? Every other week, we post videos about the intricacies of daily life and how to live within them.

What are your summer plans?

One Way to Validate Children in Stepfamilies

This post is fifteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

It can be difficult to adjust to living with a step-parent, especially for children and teens. According to stepfamily expert Dr. Patricia Papernow, the best thing a parent can do to ease that adjustment is to listen to what their children are saying. In order for the blended family to be successful, the youth need to feel validated. Papernow said, in a 2017 BYU Social Work Conference, “[It] turns out people have really big hearts.” If parents listen to and acknowledge their children’s possibly negative feelings, the transition to a blended family will be smoother. This two-minute video highlights how:

BYU’s Social Work Conference is held annually for clinicians and members of the public. Papernow is a psychologist in private practice in Hudson, Ma, and Director of the Institute for Stepfamily Education. The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair, which sponsors the conference, was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, social development, and single parenting.

Italians Eating with Chopsticks? How to Mesh Family Cultures in Stepfamilies

This post is thirteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

How do you blend two families together into one happy stepfamily? Does trying to do so sometimes feel like meshing two entirely different cultures, like telling Italians and Japanese to eat pasta with chopsticks? It can be done, says Dr. Patricia Papernow, an expert in the field who we introduced here, by making mistakes and learning from them. She called it “learning by goofing,” at a 2016 BYU Social Work Conference. The meshing of the two cultures can lead to misunderstanding and unintentionally hurt feelings. It is only through making these mistakes that people can come to know one another and to reconcile their differences.

 

Are you in a stepfamily? What mistakes have you learned from, and how have they helped?

Step-Outsiders vs. Step-Insiders: How Step-parents May Feel

This post is fourteenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and your family live better lives.

It’s no secret that divorces and remarriages can be messy. How do you blend two families together? What do you do if your child doesn’t like your new spouse? In a step-family, how do you reconcile old relationships with new? Dr. Patricia Papernow addressed these questions at BYU’s 2016 Social Work Conference. Papernow cited the example of a man named Gary, who was biological father to his daughter Hallie, and remarried to Claire. Gary and Claire were having a conversation when Hallie burst in wanting to talk about soccer tryouts. Gary turned away from Claire to focus on his daughter, leaving his new wife feeling left out. Dr. Papernow said that this is a common feeling: “Step-parents often become stuck outsiders. Stuck outsiders often feel invisible, unseen; they feel rejected. [Remarried] parents are stuck insiders…[they] are torn between the people that they love. They often feel anxious, they may feel inadequate.” The former has to learn how to fit in while the latter has to learn to balance what everyone wants: their children, their new spouse, and their ex-spouse. It’s clearly very difficult to navigate the intricacies of a step-family.

 

Watch Papernow’s full address below for advice on how to address these and other issues, or subscribe to the Connections magazine of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences to get the latest information on stepfamily research when the next issue comes out in a couple of months!

 

Dr. Papernow is an internationally-recognized expert on stepfamilies. She integrates her deep understanding of the research with four decades of clinical practice and a wide variety of modalities and theoretical modes. She has written two of the classic books in the field as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and guest blog posts. She is known as a highly engaging teacher, an excellent speaker, and attuned, caring, clinical supervisor. Dr. Papernow is a psychologist in private practice in Hudson, Ma, and Director of the Institute for Stepfamily Education.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair, which sponsored the conference, was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, “social development,” and single parenting.

What’s your advice for blending two families?

Kids do Better with Low Conflict in both Step and Traditional Families

This post is twelfth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

What is the number one predictor for the poor wellbeing of children? According to Dr. Patricia Papernow, the answer is the lack of contention in the home. “[It] is not divorce,” she said at our recent Social Work Conference. “It’s conflict, it’s not family structure, it’s family process.” When children are living in an environment where there is conflict between the parents they suffer from a lower attention span, a weakened immune system, and poor academic performance. The factor behind these symptoms is sleep. Dr. Papernow says: “When adults are tense, kids don’t sleep as well and that makes all the rest of that.” She suggested: “You have a kid who’s not sleeping well, do check for tension. Children with low-conflict divorced parents are doing significantly better than kids with high-conflict, never-divorced parents. This is true for adults too. Kids can manage the differences if the adults manage them well.”


The conference, held in October of 2016, was an opportunity for professionals and community members to better understand the challenges faced by stepfamilies, treatments for and research on stepfamilies and how it can be used to increase their quality of life, and create an awareness of stepfamily related issues within the community.  Dr. Papernow is “an internationally recognized expert on stepfamilies. She integrates her deep understanding of the research with four decades of clinical practice and a wide variety of modalities and theoretical modes (Internal Family Systems, couple and family therapy, trauma, attachment, Gestalt, interpersonal neurobiology). She has written two of the classic books in the field as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and guest blogs. She is known as a highly engaging teacher, an excellent speaker, and attuned, caring, clinical supervisor. Dr. Papernow is a psychologist in private practice in Hudson, Ma, and Director of the Institute for Stepfamily Education.

 

What’s Your Opinion on This?

Dr. Edin defines family instability and complexity

Part 1: The Problem

“By the time a child of unwed parents turns five, 23 percent of them have 3 half siblings,” said Dr. Kathryn Edin at our most recent Hinckley lecture. Edin’s decades-long ethnographic research about low-income families revealed that:

  • 78% of families are unstable and complex
  • 18% are stable two-parent families
  • 4% are stable single mother families

Family or relationship instability refers to the forming, breaking, reforming, breaking cycle of family life. This cycle of parents not staying together leaves the child with many parental figures who enter and leave their life, often while the child is very young. “In the first five years of a child who belongs to unmarried parents,” she said, “twelve percent of these children see one parent transition; 30 percent of children see three or more parent transitions in the first five years of their life.”

“Family instability and complexity,” she said, “are both consequences and causes of poverty. It is more common among low-income families. And they are at an all time high.”

These causes and consequences are parts of a difficult and complex societal issue, but her research provides both illumination for every member of society wondering how to help, and suggestions for improvement at the public policy level. That research began decades ago when she began roaming the country in her 20’s interviewing poor single mothers about their budgets. In her 30’s, she sought to get a more complete picture by focusing on the stories and laments of single fathers.

A major cause of family complexity and instability in poverty: unplanned pregnancy

captureNow as a distinguished sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, she investigates low-income and middle class family planning styles. These observations have proven crucial to discovering how to lessen family instability and complexity.

She found that those in low-income families often had unplanned or ill-timed pregnancies in non-committal relationships. Children tended to come along when the parents were still trying to “find themselves.”

In contrast, middle-class families meticulously planned and timed births. Parents were in a stable and committed relationship, often marriage. Parents had children when they both had “arrived” in a career-sense—they were confident with who they were and they felt fulfilled. Children who were born into families like the second scenario had a better upbringing in a more stable family.

The key lesson Edin learned in her 30s: “Moving the needle on mobility from poverty must include the family contexts into which children are born and raised. This is not a popular opinion, but I became convinced this was essential.”

With all of this in mind, Edin asked: “What would it take to ensure that every child can be planned and well-timed?” The answer? SPARKS (Supported Pathways through the Arts, Recreation, Knowledge, and Schools). Children and teens who have a SPARK identify themselves outside of their hard home life—they find themselves. They make better family decisions.

Stay tuned to fhss.byu.edu for more posts about how to help low-income families become more stable as we provide further coverage of the Hinckley lecture and explanation of SPARKS.

You can view the whole lecture here:

Featured Faculty: David Wood

With over 1 million Americans in active duty and over eight-hundred thousand in the reserves, many of us are or know one of these soldiers.  Nearly 1 in 4 of them manifest signs of a mental health disorder.  Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury are the primary concerns military personnel struggle with. Dr. David Wood, of our Social Work department, researches mental health and help-seeking behavior in military members, as well as suicide prevention programs inside and outside the military.  Some of his research recommends improved diagnostic decision-making for psychologists. Within BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, he teaches psychopathology, program evaluation, and motivational interviewing. He is an Assistant Professor, licensed psychologist, and a group clinical psychologist.

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“I am excited about the potential of influencing students in a positive way who will, in turn, go on to have a direct influence on many others,” Dr. Wood says of teaching.  “I am also humbled by the trust given to me by my students—it makes me want to improve every semester to be a better professional and teacher.”

Dr. Wood solidified his career path during his missionary service for the Mormon church: “As a missionary, I encountered many individuals with emotional, relational and psychological difficulties. I had a strong desire to help but was not prepared to assist in meaningful ways. I made a commitment at that time to pursue a PhD in psychology.”

Education is important in Dr. Wood’s family. His mother received a master’s degree in early childhood education and his father a PhD in educational psychology.  Dr. Wood studied at Utah State University, Central Washington University, University of Utah, and Arizona State University.

Hiking, spending time with family, and riding his motorcycle consume Dr. Wood’s free time.  He is a Colorado native.

 

Student News: Even You Can Help Refugees, Right Now

Owing to an increase of global unrest, we have heard much about the global refugee crisis.  Because our country is not physically connected to the countries most affected by this unrest (like Europe, which is connected to the Middle East where many refugees are fleeing from), we mistakenly assume that there is nothing we can do to really help.  This assumption is incorrect.  There is more you can do than just donate money to refugees in Europe. There are refugees here in the United States. There are refugees struggling in Utah. Dr. Stacey Shaw, one of our new professors and a collaborator with the International Rescue Committee, says that the IRC resettled 1,245 people as refugees in Utah in its last fiscal year. The main countries of origin for these people were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Iraq, Burma, Syria, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sudan, Eritrea, Burundi, Central African Republic, and Iran. Most of them are being resettled in Salt Lake County and a few are going to Ogden, but agencies are also considering possibilities for resettlement in Utah County and St. George. She advocates, as do others, helping them, not only because of their obvious need but also out of sheer empathy.

“If we could see, hear, smell, touch, and feel what people are experiencing, I believe we would live differently,” she says. “[Like] Cecilia Razovsky, who was a great advocate for refugee resettlement and services during World War II when Americans were resistant to immigration in ways that are very similar to what is happening today, [we should recognize that], ‘When you are asked to help in the cause, bear these things in mind and say with others- There but for the grace of God, go I!’ Elizabeta Jevtic-Somlai, visiting professor of political science, adds, in a recent BYU Magazine article, “Look at refugees as human beings, not as a service project. If you want to extend yourself, be a real friend and be there. Do small, consistent acts rather than a one-time project. Really assess, ‘What can I do?’ and ‘What am I willing to do?’ If you can do more, a practical way to help is to create opportunities for self-reliance.”

For that very purpose, a club has been organized at BYU, to help BYU students empower refugees.

Join the Refugee Empowerment Club

14495385_615473538613308_7091328931985394175_nThe Refugee Empowerment Club offers students the opportunity to become aware of the refugee crisis in Utah and around the globe.  It also gives students opportunities to serve refugees.  The goal of the club is to change the community in to a more understanding, unified, and empowering place to thrive. Dr. Shaw said of the club, “It is great to see students interested in learning more about refugee issues and finding ways to serve.”

Students Norma Villenueva and Rachel McAllister created the club to help students know where to start in supporting refugees.

“We realized there wasn’t one source for students who want to get involved in refugee resettlement and the issues with that,” says McAllister, “So we started researching and compiling those resources and were connected with some other individuals who wanted to create a formal organization.” The Refugee Empowerment Club meets twice a month on Wednesdays in the FLAC in the basement of the JFSB.  One meeting will be the speaker series (mentioned below). The other meeting is an involvement activity. The club helped with the Spice Kitchen Incubator project for the International Refugee Committee.  They also had a refugee cultural night. The club’s involvement activities are chosen based on the refugee’s current needs and the interests of the club members. The Refugee Empowerment Club has the following events in the works:

  • a cultural night in collaboration with SID on Thursday, November 17
  • a refugee-run catering service where participants can buy the cultural foods sold by refugees
  • an evening to write letters to Congress and the UN to urge better human rights practices related to refugee resettlement
  • a benefit concert to raise money for refugees (Fall 2017)

The Refugee Empowerment Club will begin a speaker series about the refugee crisis.  In the series, a member of main organizations in refugee resettlement and assistance in Utah, or refugees themselves, speak about specific refugee issues, their organization, and how to get involved.  The first speaker will be the director of the Women of the World organization, Samira Harnish.  She will speak about what it’s like to be a refugee, and especially the experience of female refugees.  Harnish’s speech will be on November 30 from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in Kennedy Center’s main conference room.

chain-690088_1280If participating in any of the club’s activities is not a possibility for you, you could consider these opportunities as well: