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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Professor Provides Training and Consultation for Clinicians

August 7, 2014

The Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) has contracted with Clinical Assistant Professor Stephen von Merz to provide culturally responsive training and consultation services to a group of their family therapists over a six-month period. The training introduces family systems, feminist and cultural/contextual models of family therapy, integrating theory, practice and skill development. It covers a variety of family system models (intergenerational, structural, strategic, solution-focused brief and narrative), and it analyzes intersecting issues of oppression including sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, citizenship privilege and ageism. The training includes a bilingual component for clinicians seeking to utilize their Spanish language skills in supervision and consultation.

"We sought out Professor von Merz to provide this training because we are eager for a more integrated, systemic approach to working with the diverse client systems and families we serve," says Lydia Prado, PhD, Director of Child and Family Services at MHCD. Participants in the MHCD training include clinicians who provide outpatient, intensive in-home and school-based therapy.

"As a part of their training, participants are asked to identify and examine how their cultural views, beliefs and values influence clinical practice. Encouraging cultural self-awareness and reflection supports the development of a culturally responsive perspective," von Merz explains. Following the training, he is providing four weeks of consultation services to support the clinicians in implementing these new interventions and approaches.

In addition to benefitting the MHCD clinicians themselves, von Merz says the training will also enhance internship experiences for GSSW students who complete their field placements at MHCD, one of the agencies that provides placements for students who are bilingual in English and Spanish. "The training informs participants about the clinical content students are receiving at GSSW so that they can support them in connecting academic theory with real-world practice through culturally responsive supervision and training," he adds.