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GSAPP Cultural Conference October 14th, 2011

On October 14, 2011 professionals from varying backgrounds (social workers, psychologists, counselors, educators) came together to learn about diversity in a whole new way at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology’s 8th Annual Culture Conference Co-Sponsored by the School of Social Work-Institute for Families and the Graduate School of Education. The day was filled with meaningful lectures, workshops, and trainings that are genuinely unique to the cultural conference.

The Conference began with opening remarks from Nancy Boyd-Franklin, PhD, and Shalonda Kelly, PhD, who provided a historical overview of the conference as a student-initiated project which blossomed into a larger inter-disciplinary venue on themes of cultural competency and social justice.  Stanley Messer, PhD, Dean of GSAPP, continued the discussion of student-led initiatives by announcing the development of the Multicultural Concentration at GSAPP, and reiterated the commitment of the School of Social Work, the Graduate School of Education, and GSAPP, to developing a diverse body of professionals ready to engage active work in the community.

Carmen Inoa Vazquez, PhD, Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine, was the morning key note speaker for this year’s conference.  Dr. Vazquez is a noted authority on Latin American mental health, particularly bicultural life styles.  She has over 25 years of experience as a distinguished clinician, teacher, researcher, author, and program presenter, with both Spanish/English bilingual and English speaking populations.  Her talk “Considering Culture and Loss in Clinical Interventions: Grief Therapy with Latinos” addressed the need to consider culture when entering in to grief work with an ethnic minority population.  Specifically, that the reactions to loss for Latinos can be rooted in specific traditional cultural values that can prolong or assist in the resolution of grief.  Participants were able to ask meaningful questions of Dr. Vazquez and with poise she continued to stress the need for clinicians to exert cultural knowledge when dealing with populations that have a different view of grief and loss than the “traditional” sense of grief.
Nancy Boyd-Franklin, Carmen Vazquez, Stanley Messer, Shalonda Kelly

After the morning key note speaker, participant broke out into the morning session breakouts.

  1. “Campus Games: When Civility, Gender And Sexuality Collide In Sport.” Mark Schuster, Ph.D., is the Senior Dean of Students for five campuses and 38,000 students at Rutgers University. Mark is affiliate faculty in Psychology, American Studies, Women's and Gender Studies, and the new Masters in College Student Affairs at the GSE where he will be teaching Civility and Social Justice spring 2012.  Dr. Schuster's presentation focused on real-life experiences of LGBTQI athletes, their experiences in their sport, the process of coming out, and how they handled the situation. Videos of different athletes were shown, each with their own unique experience of success or struggles as they dealt with the intersection of their sexuality and their athletic identity. The group was then asked to participate in an interactive Q&A session where the liaison (Jamye Shelton, GSAPP Clinical student), Dr. Schuster, and a former Rutgers rower participated.

  2. “Children of Incarcerated Parents: Theoretical, Developmental and Clinical Implications.” James A. Graham, Ph.D., is a professor of Psychology and former chair of African American Studies Department at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). He teaches a variety of courses in child development; research methods; development across the lifespan; developmental seminars in ethnic and racial diversity among US children; cross-cultural child development; and children and the media. Dr. Graham, led his session through the process of building a better understanding of the theoretical, developmental, and clinical issues for children of incarcerated parents.  Specifically he wanted his audience to gain an understanding of the demographics of parental incarceration, the applicability of the contextual perspective in regards to studying incarceration, learn the effects of parental incarceration on children, and discover best practices in research and practice.
  1. “Doing Diversity Training, Pitfalls and Promises.” Judith Springer, PsyD, (School, 1989). She is currently the Program Director of Ceceilyn Miller Institute for Leadership and Diversity (CMI) and a licensed psychologist in private practice. Christopher C. Irving, MA, received his Masters of Arts Degree in Public Policy and International Affairs from William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. Currently, Chris serves as Executive Director & CEO of CMI, a non-profit organization dedicated to the causes of diversity and social justice. This workshop covered how carefully sequenced, well implemented diversity training can increase participants self awareness, diversity awareness and empathy, and can even inspire participants to become allies for those impacted by social justice.  This carefully crafted training inspired many to go to their respective agencies and implement diversity training.
  1. “Undoing Racism: An Introduction.” The speakers were Onaje Muid, MSW, LMHC, Fatima Haviz, PhD, and Bonnie Cushing, LCSW from the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. They presented a "teaser" for the 2.5-day Undoing Racism Workshop that they will be hosting at Rutgers October 28-30. The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond believes that an effective, broad-based movement for social transformation must be rooted in the following Anti-Racist Principles: undoing racism, learning from history, sharing culture, developing leadership, maintaining accountability, networking, analyzing power, gatekeeping, undoing internalized racial oppression, and identifying and analyzing manifestations of racism. The workshop uses a systemic approach emphasizing these principles so that participants can become "agents of transformation" in creating institutional change, with the goal of "achieving equity and equality across all cultures and races."
    undoing racism
    Fatima Haviz, Onaje Muid, Bonnie Cushing
    Lydia Kim, Mary Kay Diakite, Angelica Torres

For the first time in the Cultural Conference history a lunch time panel was held on Bullying. The Panel members consisted of Anne Gregory, PhD,  Dr. Boyd-Franklin, Dr. Springer, and Mr. Irving. Dr. Gregory is an assistant professor in the PsyD program in GSAPP’s school psychology program. Her research interests include bullying, school climate, teacher-student relationships, and teacher professional development. Dr. Gregory spoke about the prevalence of school bullying and the effects it has on the students who bully.  Dr. Springer, Program Director of Ceceilyn Miller Institute for Leadership and Diversity (CMI) and Mr. Irving, Executive Director & CEO of CMI discussed the nature of bullying in the schools and the educational impact on students who are bullied and those students who bully. Lastly, Dr. Boyd-Franklin, an African American psychologist and a Distinguished Professor (Professor II) at GSAPP discussed the evolution of Cyber-bullying.  Dr. Boyd-Franklin stressed the importance of recognizing the rise of Cyber-bullying in order to address this as a problem.  The lunch time panel also entertained questions from the audience.  Overall, the lunchtime panel proved to be informative and a welcomed part of the conference.

Following the lunchtime panel were amazing workshops.

  1. "Gangs Are Their Own Personal Dynamics" Jack Farrell, LCSW holds an advanced degree in Social Work from the Hunter College School of Social Work in New York. He is currently employed at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey as a Program Analyst for the University of Behavioral Healthcare -Violence Institute of New Jersey. When presenting "Gangs Are Their Own Personal Dynamics" Mr. Farrell, exposed that gangs are more than the deviant subculture the media so often portrays them to be.  Gangs are social institutions with their own sets of norms, values, policies, history, and traditions.  Gang culture is often passed down from generation to generation through social learning the same way ethnic or religious culture might be.  When working with clients who may be involved with gangs, one must consider the situation from an ecological perspective, become knowledgeable in the area of gang culture, and practice careful and unbiased assessment.
  1. “Leaving Home: Understanding the Immigrant and Refugee Experience. Mary Kay Diakite, LMSW, is a PhD candidate at Rutgers University School of Social Work, focusing on Social Policy.  Currently she is the Technical Assistance Project Manager at the NYC Department of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS.  The workshop focused on the immigration experience. Ms. Diakite covered the heterogeneity of the immigration experience and reasons why one would leave their country of origin. She expounded upon the differences between refugees, asylum seekers, illegal, and legal immigrants and its effects on the immigration process. Moreover, she gave further details about the process of leaving one's country of origin to arriving in the United States and for some returning back to their country of origin.  She also spoke on the acculturation process for these individuals, covering the cultural challenges and intergenerational conflicts affecting newly immigrated individuals and family as they try to adapt to life in the United States. Lastly, Ms. Diakite covered several practical culturally competent strategies that can be used by clinicians to assist these individuals as they transition to life in the United States.
  1.  “Race Dialogue: An Opportunity for Change .” Deepa Sadhwani-Monchak, MSW, LCSW, has over 15 years of experience in areas of clinical social work, program development, child and family advocacy, case management and diversity and social justice education.  She is a graduate of New York University with a Master of Social Work and was trained in Family Therapy with the Ackerman Institute for the Family in NYC.  The Race Dialogue workshop defined key concepts of race, racism, white privilege and racial and ethnic identity.  Ms. Sadhwani-Monchak created a positive learning environment enabling participants to develop their understanding of how these concepts impact the cultural competency of social workers and psychologists. She challenged participants to recognize their own conscious and unconscious participation in a system of racism and white privilege. Importantly, she empowered participants with the skills necessary to address racism, both professionally and personally.