Friday, January 14, 2022: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Mint, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Sunghyun Hong, MSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Paige Safyer, PhD, Arizona State University, Julie Ribaudo, PhD(c), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Suzanne Brown, PhD, Wayne State University
Social work as a discipline has long discussed the science of social work research and "evidence" for clinical practices. Despite the well-intentioned rationale for promoting evidence-based clinical practices, the restricted and narrow definition of evidence has excluded promising clinical practices with long records of enhancing clients' wellbeing. For example, despite strong recommendations from The NASW Standards for Clinical Social Work in Social Work Practice that recognize psychodynamic theory as effective clinical practice, skepticism against psychodynamic methods grew due to a lack of randomized controlled trials-driven evidence. Nonetheless, the ongoing push to consider a more comprehensive ecological system of the client, inclusive of the microsystem, macrosystem and chronosystem, has highlighted the limitations of well-established evidence-based practices. The rise of anti-racism practices challenges whether psychotherapies focusing solely on behavioral changes are enough to address the healing and restoration process for clients who experience systemic oppression. Given the increased demand for "evidence"-based practices, neuroscience research findings provide evidence for psychodynamic approaches and their potential for improving clients' psychological wellbeing. Neuroscience is a scientific discipline that expanded its sphere of influence by studying the transaction between biological systems and the environment. The field's bio-psycho-social perspective and person-in-environment approach are well aligned with the social work framework in considering individuals in different dimensions of a system. Recently, social neuroscience is spearheading our understanding of structural barriers and oppression on human development and functioning. Neuroscience research on the impact of poverty, neighborhood violence, and disrupted relationships with caregivers on brain development has galvanized some of the early advocacy in trauma-informed policies and practices. Despite criticism of neuroscience for its deficit-oriented framework, there has been a shift toward highlighting brain plasticity affected by protective factors and resilience in the community, which fit well with strength-based social work practices. Psychodynamic theory, particularly relational dynamic theory in practice, is increasingly evidence-supported and offers strategies to bolster attachment-based and trauma-informed practices addressing interpersonal and structural trauma. Recent neuroscience research supports the relevance of implicit interpersonal processes, processes that occur outside of our awareness, and the role of interpersonal and structural trauma in determining these implicit processes. The integration of neuroscience findings and relational psychodynamic perspectives such as attachment and trauma-informed practices offer insight and frameworks for intervening with the consequences of interpersonal and structural trauma through attention to implicit relational processes both internal and external to the therapeutic relationship. Attention to the effects of both developmental and sociocultural adversity on dynamic processes offers avenues to healing across clients' ecological systems. This roundtable initiates dialogues on the intersectionality of theories of strength-based neuroscience and trauma-informed psychodynamic practices, which are both grounded in 1) addressing the multidimensionality of adversity and trauma (interpersonal to social structures) and 2) seeking both individual and collective healing, recovery, and justice. Each panel will explore strategies around using 1) recent neuroscience findings to advocate for the anti-racism framework and 2) psychodynamic practices as a vehicle to translate neuroscience research findings into clinical practices.
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