It is with a mix of great pleasure and great sadness that I write my first greeting to our group, the oldest clinical social work group in existence in the world. The pleasure comes from my joy at the chance to lead this group in the directions that I feel are important for the promotion of international autonomous clinical social work. In this article I will address my vision for the growth and development of our organization.
The sadness is due to the loss of Past President, Martin Schwartz. Martin left us on October 30, 2005. His opening paper at the last conference given with Jaclyn Miller, Ph.D., was one of the most moving expressions of his gifts to our field, to his colleagues, to his clients and his students. It was the sharing of his experiences as a clinician in declining health with his patients as they began to notice evidence of the decline. The paper was entitled, "To Disclose or Not to Disclose: Is This Really the Question?" Because of his years as an educator and his position as Emeritus Professor of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University, ICAPP has given a donation to the VCU Scholarship Fund and established a scholarship fund in his honor to help conference attendees in financial need to attend our conferences. We hope that you will contribute. His gifts to us will go with us always.
In these first days of January after a lovely holiday season, it gives me great pleasure to update you on the work of the Board over the fall. We have followed up on the work started under Martin in arriving at a change of name. It retains the logo of ICAPP but changes the name to reflect our desire to be more inclusive of clinical social work as it is practiced in all settings. As you know the name had been The International Conference for the Advancement of Private Practice of Clinical Social Work. We tentatively changed this to the International Conference of Autonomous Professional Practice of Clinical Social Work. However, when we tried this title out on some prospective members we found their eyes glazing over as they tried to take it in. The Board then came up with a simpler name that we feel flows well. It is The International Conference for the Advanced Professional Practice of Clinical Social Work. It is important that our membership know we wish to be more inclusive of all clinical social work practice much of which takes place in many more settings than just private offices.
My own vision for the organization is to build ICAPP-CSW so that we truly have a more international reach. This has existed in the past but has been difficult to maintain due to expense, distance, and differences in clinical social work practice in various countries. I believe with the Internet the world is truly growing smaller. I think it would be wonderful for our group to work on establishing lasting relationships with clinical social workers in other parts of the world.
I remember a fascinating presentation by a clinician from New Zealand at our conference in Portugal and that we awarded a scholarship to a social worker from Zimbabwe to that meeting. ICAPP-CSW was founded at a time when clinical social workers did not practice privately. Two of our founding members were among the first private practitioners in the United States. They are Ms. Eilene Crosier and Mr. Jules Levaggi. Our Canadian Board member, Audrey Ferber, was among the first private practitioners in Canada. Our private practitioners fought hard for the education and the autonomy of the field. Through our professional organizations in this part of the world, clinical social work has truly found its place in mental health treatment. For instance, on December 22, 2005 the Supreme Court of New York handed down a decision that "as a matter of law, the scope of practice of psychology and the scope of practice of licensed clinical social work, although described using some different words at times, do not vary in substance and are wholly equal and the same." We are truly established here.
However, my sense from my travels is that this is not so in all parts of the world. We need to know more. We need to learn more about the world by visiting other countries. We need to include more presenters at our conferences from overseas. One learns from differences and can advance the field. I believe our conference this June in Colorado Springs will demonstrate that. As my term progresses some of you may wish to work with me on developing pathways to become more international. I welcome all the help I can get!
One of the other goals of ICAPP-CSW that I wish to pay particular attention to is the need for professional clinical social workers for self-care. This is an absolute necessity in the light of how much we need to take care of our own physical, spiritual, creative, humanistic needs in order to do our work well. For me the annual ICAPP-CSW conference is part of that self-care. We stimulate the mind and the emotions in the morning and share social connection for the remainder of the day.
I invite all of you to think with me in terms of where we can take ICAPP-CSW. We are a work in progress!