Looking at Change as Growth

Submitted by Beth Braccio Hering

Looking at Change as Growth

Many of us have things in our lives that we hope to change. Perhaps we’d like to pursue a higher-paying job, develop a better work-life balance, or go back to school. Maybe we feel personal improvements are in order, such as losing weight or becoming more confident.

Knowing what steps to take to accomplish a goal is part of the road to success. Oftentimes, however, it is not a lack of information that is holding us back – it is our own resistance to change. While Nike may tout “Just do it,” that is easier said than done.

“Change can be difficult, even when it’s for our own good,” says Mary Pender Greene, a career/executive coach and psychotherapist. “We don’t like to leave the comfortable and familiar in favor of the unknown. Change brings uncertainty, and with this uncertainty comes fear and stress.”

Recognizing that uneasy feelings are common when dealing with changes can aid in accepting them. (Remember your mom telling you on your first day of high school that all your classmates had pits in their stomachs, too?) Go ahead and admit your fear as well as acknowledge that it is uncomfortable to disturb the status quo.

Then, realize that another name for change is growth, and think about progressing to where you want to be. “For change to happen, we have to first discover how the change will benefit us,” Pender Greene says. “We must believe that the change is for the better. Understanding the benefits can motivate us by shifting our mindset.”

Need a little boost in positive thinking? Consider this quote from Steve Jobs, “Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Image courtesy of Thinkstock/Photodisc.

The Elephant Is Not Pink: Talking About White, Black, and Brown to Achieve Excellence in Clinical Practice


Incorporating issues of race and racism can improve clinical engagement and the therapeutic alliance. Assessing, understanding, and responding to experiences related to racial identity and racism related stress can be an important factor in a clinician’s ability to be culturally responsive. A vignette of client treatment presents common dilemmas in clinical treatment. Responses to questions about race from focus groups are presented to frame the experiences of women of color who struggle with poverty and social-emotional issues. A framework of multicultural antiracist practice highlights the skills necessary for clinicians, supervisors, and managers.

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Mary Pender Greene Keynote Speaker -“Creative Mentoring: Sustaining the Profession” NASW Annual meeting 5/7 at 5:30 PM

National Association of Social Workers
New York City Chapter Board of Directors

invites you to join us at the

Annual Meeting

Creative Mentoring:
Sustaining the Profession

Monday, May 7, 2012


Given the significance of professional development in social work practice, the importance of mentoring cannot be overstated. The most successful social work leaders in the field consistently identify the mentoring relationship as having played a key role in how their careers unfolded and in achieving their goals. MSW students and new professionals frequently express the value of having a supervisor who shares information and practice wisdom, as well as an openness that fosters more complete understanding and a deeper connection. The Annual Meeting this year will draw out the centrality of these relationships in making social work so vital and effective a profession.

Join us for an inspiring evening as Keynote Speaker, Mary Pender Greene shares wisdom gleaned from years of mentoring others, as well as being mentored herself. She will address new ways of connecting with mentors that meet the needs of social workers with demanding schedules who face ever-greater challenges in the workplace, and will identify the key ingredients for a powerful and successful mentoring relationship. Ms. Pender Greene will be joined by three of her mentees, each at different stages in their careers, who will discuss the critical role mentoring played in their development as social workers.

Social Workers Help Improve Relationships

Hosted by Dr. Melanie Barton

March is Social Work month.  Occupations vary widely amongst the men and women who have earned their Masters in Social Work degree.  Being a therapist and a researcher are just two facets of what they can do.  Dr. LeslieBeth Wish will share her research about women and their relationships.  Mary Pender Greene will describe the techniques she uses working with couples. The show content will amaze and surprise you.

Are You Guilty of Stigmatizing the Mentally Ill?


With a subtle look or action, you may be helping to promote negative attitudes toward people with mental illness — without realizing it or meaning to do it. Here’s how to check any bias at the door.

Medically reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, MD

Despite the fact that mental disorders are relatively common in the United States (according to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 46 percent of Americans will experience a diagnosable mental disorder throughout their lifetime), stigma of mental illness remains an ongoing problem.

Only a few decades ago, many people with severe depression and other mental disorders were shunned, placed in straitjackets, and locked away in institutions. And while society has come a long way since then, we still have improvements to make in terms of getting people the help they need while treating them with dignity and respect.

“Stigma related to mental illness is a national health problem,” says Melissa Pinto, PhD, RN, an instructor in the School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University who studies stigma related to mental health. “Young people hear messages about mental health disorders from an early age — as a result, many of them are scared to be around people with mental illness.”

One serious effect of the stigma around mental disorders is that two-thirds of affected people don’t seek help, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness; the main reasons people give to explain why include fear of disclosure, rejection, and discrimination.“Stigma reinforces attitudes and behaviors that prevent many people with symptoms of mental illness from seeking the treatment they need,” Pinto says.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, in its most severe form mental health stigma can lead people to avoid socializing and working with — including renting to and hiring — people with mental disorders, especially severe disorders such as schizophrenia.

You may think you have no preconceived notions about people with depression or other forms of mental illness, yet you may unwittingly be guilty of perpetuating mental health stigmas. Expressions of mental health stigma are often displayed during daily interactions in fairly subtle and complex ways, Pinto says.

Subtle Signs of Stigma Against the Mentally Ill

The following examples of mental health stigma may help you reach an “aha” moment with regard to your own actions and attitudes:

Mental illness in the media. “On television, characters with a mental health disorder often play the villain,” Pinto says. “In order to eliminate mental illness stigma, these media portrayals need to become more accurate.” One step forward is the encouraging depictions of psychiatry on shows such as Monk,The Sopranos, and In Treatment, says Howard Belkin, MD, JD, an assistant professor at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and a psychiatrist at the Birmingham Counseling Center in Royal Oak, Mich.

Phrases like “She’s lost her marbles” or “He’s not playing with a full deck.” It’s easy to throw terms such as these around in casual conversation, but doing so promotes mental health stigma. “Instead, use care in the way you describe someone with a mental health disorder,” Dr. Belkin says. “Remember: The mental illness is not the person’s fault, and she may be doing everything she can to try to get better.”

“Crazy” Halloween costumes. Considering going next Halloween as a psycho killer or straitjacketed mental ward patient? Both costumes strongly promote mental health stigma and falsely portray all people with mental illness as violent. “Unfortunately, some people with mental illness, particularly paranoia, can have a tendency toward violence, and when they become violent it can be tragic, as well as heavily covered by the media,” says David M. Reiss, MD, interim medical director at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, Mass. “However, what the media does not remind the public is that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Overall, statistically, a person with mental illness is no more likely to become violent than a person without mental illness.”

Common — but wrong — assumptions about people with mental illness. “For example, people may assume someone with depression or another mental illness is unstable, lazy, untrustworthy, unintelligent, or incapable,” when that’s not the case, says Mary Pender Greene, LCSW-R, CGP, a group psychotherapist in private practice in New York City.

Verbal innuendoes. As you talk about someone with a mental illness, you may pair certain words with a change in your tone of voice. For example, you may whisper the term “depression” or “bipolar.” “People pick up on these cues, which communicate depression stigma to the listener,” Pinto says.

Isolation of people with mental illness. When talking to someone with depression or another mental health problem, you may unconsciously step back to increase your physical distance from the person, or turn away from him or her. “You may also speak to the person with mental illness in an angry or condescending tone or as if he was a child,” Pender Greene says. People with mental health disorders are also more often ignored in group social situations and generally more rejected by others.

Disrespect for the gravity of depression and other mental health problems. Telling someone with mental illness to “get over it” or “snap out of it” is not only insensitive, it also promotes mental health stigma, Pender Greene says. Instead, she suggests pushing past the misconceptions floating around by educating yourself with the facts.

Overall, the best way to avoid promoting mental health stigmas is to give people with depression and other forms of mental illness the respect and kindness they deserve.“Good mental health is a goal we should all seek,” Belkin says. “We need to show understanding and compassion for those suffering from both minor and major mental health problems. If the topic of depression or other mental illness comes up in conversation, be empathetic. After all, you or one of your loved ones may one day suffer from mental health symptoms.”