Social Workers Go Virtual, Leaving Nonprofits Shorthanded
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
Nonprofit social workers in New York are seeing a shortage of people coming into the field, abdicating it for telehealth work.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth began to fill the gaps for in-person visits. However, the shift to a semi-virtual landscape has left some nonprofits without applicants to fill open positions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telehealth visits increased by 154% in 2020.
Angela Piccininni, associate director of clinical services at YES Community Counseling Center, is concerned about the kind of hands-on experience new social workers are getting.
"Prior to COVID, they would have internships in nonprofits and agency-based work at hospitals, similar to ours, which would lead to an exposure of the real missions of social work," Piccininni recounted. "And after training, we would begin to employ these new graduates."
One way she feels people could be drawn to in-person work is a re-evaluation of nonprofit- and agency-based social work, with hopes of incentivizing employees. Although it has become widely used, she said it could be a mismatch for people with more severe mental-health problems.
Telehealth marks a turning point for how people receive mental-health treatment, and it could be here to stay. According to a 2021 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, many clients saw a reduction in their symptoms of mental illnesses when they used telehealth, or a hybrid model.
Piccininni thinks the approach can be limiting, adding there are some things a person might not be able to notice on a computer screen.
"Much of what we do as therapists is observing, and working through nonverbal communication," Piccininni noted. "You cannot detect that when you're seeing someone's head or their shoulders. We're often finding individuals coming to session, that are in virtual treatment, that are in their car, that are driving or in public settings."
Social work may be shifting into a virtual environment, but it is not slowing down the growth of the field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of social workers is expected to grow by 9% nationally during the next decade. New York is expected to see a 6.6% growth in social workers over the same period.
get more stories like this via email
2022 was a banner year for women elected as governor. Nearly one-third of America's governors will be women next year, which is a record. Iowa …
Residential water rates in Michigan are soaring, with an estimated one out of ten households without access to or unable to afford clean water…
Fracking is a very water-intensive industry, and a new study dives into the impact of unconventional oil and gas drilling on aquatic ecosystems in …
A Bellingham man who supports people with dementia has received one of the most prestigious awards for volunteerism in Washington state. The …
Native American tribal communities and conservation groups got a big win Wednesday as President Joe Biden announced he intends to create a new nationa…
A decision could come today on Nevada's bid to become the first state in the nation to hold a Democratic primary in 2024. The Democratic National …
Snow is on the ground in much of Minnesota, but the state is coming off another warm season with notable drought conditions. Those who monitor …
By Ray Levy Uyeda for Yes! Magazine.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Greater Dakota News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-…