Hi, my name is April Fletcher, and I am Associate Professor and the Director of the Master's in Social Work program at Lesley University, and I'm going to take a couple of minutes to talk with you about the upcoming master's of Social Work program, which will start in September of 2020, and we're really excited. We have a nice group of students who have applied and been accepted and some more applications in process. So it's a really exciting time at Lesley, despite the fact that it's also the time of COVID-19. So a lot of the things that would have happened in person are needing to happen online, and this is a uniquely social work-y kind of response, which is you just do what you need to do to try to help people to make the best of the resources and the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
So I want to mention a little bit about the background of the Master's in Social Work program and then what our priorities are. So the background is that you probably are well aware that Lesley University has a strong and long standing reputation as a university that prepares practitioners in all sorts of helping professions from the counseling psychology, expressive therapies, education, etc. And we achieve this through really innovative creative and effective curricula, and internship experience and really top notch faculty. And the Master's in Social Work program I hope, I expect, will be very similar in those regards. What's different is that social work is a profession that is driven by some very specific values that are highly compatible with Lesley University, and these are social justice and all of the sub values that relate to social justice. You have service, the importance of preserving the dignity and worth of every individual, etc. And so, in preparing for the program, what we did as a faculty was we engaged in a research project with local social work leaders and practitioners to ascertain from them what are the qualities that an effective social worker possesses? And how can a Master's in Social Work program help to inculcate those or promote those in our students? And we learned a number of very interesting and helpful things.
I think the most important skill that individuals pointed out everyone struggles with and social workers, like everyone, and that is how to have difficult conversations, how to have conversations and relationships across diversity. So the diversity could be a socio economic background, educational background, health beliefs, some families or individuals or cultures who don't believe in western medicine or medication, or those who believe entirely in that and not in some other things that might be of use, such as mindfulness and meditation. So how to engage across these differences, and not just to ignore them, but to work with them, like what are your beliefs and how can we help you to take from the western medicine offerings, that which could be of use to you, and leave that which is not of us to you behind and really respect your decision as the ultimate decision maker. So those kinds of shared power dynamics were among the findings that we came across in our research.
We also found that service to folks who are diverse by virtue of ethnicity, language, and by neurodiversity, meaning those who have ADHD or are on the autistic spectrum, folks who are diverse by virtue of age, working with very young children, for example, in an early intervention program, or working with older folks in a assisted living facility. Often folks don't have a lot of facility with interacting effectively toward a goal with individuals or groups or families that they're not most familiar with based on their own backgrounds. And so that's a theme that will be attended to throughout the curriculum.
Other things have to do with how to not just help people adapt to inequality, but to challenge inequality, and so our curriculum includes social policies. Currently in the era of COVID-19, there are many social policy initiatives that social workers have been engaged with and have advocated for, such as payment for telehealth by insurance companies and the forbearance of mortgage payments, or the moratorium on evictions in Greater Boston for individuals who, for whatever reason, due to the economic implications of COVID-19, are unable to pay their rent, to also face eviction would just be disastrous. And so social workers advocated at the state house to ensure that there wasn't a moratorium. Excuse me, at the city hall. But it's these kinds of identifying a problem, identifying the resources needed, identifying the solutions, and then advocating for those solutions by identifying the people who can make the changes that need to be made, and helping our clients to do so on their own behalf and doing it on their behalf when they are not able to do so. So these are many of the themes that we learned from our research, and that are also parts of Social Work education. But what do you put in the first? What do you put in the foreground? Well, those are some of the themes that we will put in the foreground because these are the things that people in the local communities have told us are the things that social workers need to know. So I look forward to talking your ear off further about the curriculum, the internships and any other questions you may have. If you would like to speak with me directly, please do feel free to shoot an email to me at email@example.com. I thank you so much, and I hope that you and your loved ones are well and handling this as best as you can. I wish you the best. Take care. Thanks for watching.