Empowering Social Workers for Optimal Practice: Enhancing Self-Awareness to Mitigate Stress from Client Trauma and the Workplace


Wednesday, June 24, 2020 | 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

NYU Silver School of Social Work 
1 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003

NYSED Approved for 2 CE contact hours


National NASW’ professional policy statement on professional self-care asserts that mitigating workplace stress needs to be considered a best practice among social workers. This workshop seeks to operationalize this imperative. Attention will be given to identifying the multiple sources of stress, including the requirements of the employing organization and the impact of secondary traumatic stress. A major focus will be on the centrality of the social worker’s self-awareness and how it can be significantly enhanced through mindfulness, awareness of the breath, and exercises to release blocked energy in the body (known as Qigong). The presentation will include the need for professional self-care plans, and the role of intention in carrying them out. Strategies for making plans realistic will be underscored.

Learning Objectives

PARTICIPANTS WILL BE ABLE TO:                     

  • Understand the imperative for social workers of the NASW policy statement on dealing with stressors that impact social work practice and the implications for direct line social workers, administrators, supervisors, and educators.
  • Identify the major sources of stress that impact social workers and the implications for maintaining one’s own optimal state of practice, including the risk of experiencing secondary traumatic stress.     
  • Gain an understanding of the pivotal role of professional self-awareness on practice, the factors that limit self-awareness, and what can be done to enhance self-awareness and worker resilience in the face of stressful circumstances.
  • Recognize the value of conscious breathing on mitigating stress, and to learn mindfulness and qigong exercises that can mitigate the impact of stress and enhance self-awareness relating to managing client or workplace stress for the purpose of optimizing practice.
  • Better understand the components of a professional self-care plan and the importance of making a commitment to implementing a plan, including how to make a realistic plan when a social worker’s time is very limited.


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Robert S. Schachter, DSW, LMSW

Robert Schachter, DSW, LMSW served as executive director of the National Association of Social Workers, NYC Chapter, for 26 years (1990 to 2016) with a long term focus on the experience of professional social workers in the work environment.  This included an understanding of the experience of senior, mid-career, and new professionals, serving as line workers, supervisors, managers and top executives.  More specifically, this included, the application of professional policies, standards, and ethics to social work practice as well as advocating for the profession in public policy and institutional settings.

Dr. Schachter holds a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from Hunter College and a doctorate in social welfare (DSW) from the CUNY Graduate Center.  He was recently presented the Chauncey Alexander Lifetime Achievement Award by the national Network for Social Work Management.