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The School Social Work Toolkit
Hands-On Counseling Activities and Workshops
Alison Varianides
ISBN: 978-0-87101-438-2. 2012. Item #4382. 178 pages.
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The School Social Work Toolkit is a "how to" resource for social workers, counselors, and mental health professionals in education. This book encompasses the direct practice part of the school social worker's job as well as the administrative and policy-driven aspects such as child abuse reporting, disciplinary interventions, training, and dealing with teachers and parents. The workbook is divided into seven main sections:

  • Defining Your Role as a Social Worker

  • Individual Counseling Activities

  • Group Implementation and Counseling Activities

  • Workshops and School Programs

  • Communication with Teachers and Professional Development

  • Communicating with Parents

  • Crisis Intervention – Protocols and Assessments

The toolkit provides hands-on activities and workshops about various social work topics. In addition, the book contains a multitude of invaluable, modifiable sample forms and policy drafts for the school social worker – especially one who acts in an administrator role.

The first of its kind, The School Social Work Toolkit contains real-life examples of how to talk to teachers and parents about students facing a variety of common struggles that are, nevertheless, frequently difficult to discuss and how to conduct student and teacher trainings. It also serves as a step-by-step guide to dealing with suicidal and homicidal clients. This title will help both new school social workers and those with many years of experience define their roles as a school social worker and hone their clinical skills.
About the Author

Section 1: Defining Your Role as a School Social Worker

Section 2: Individual Counseling Activities

Section 3: Group Implementation and Counseling Activities

Section 4: Workshops and School Programs

Section 5: Communicating with Teachers and Professional Development

Section 6: Communicating with Parents

Section 7: Crisis Intervention – Protocol and Assessments

Section 8: Forms and Other Useful Tools

Welcome to the School Social Worker Toolkit. This book provides you with hands-on activities, workshops, exercises, and programs for all aspects of school social work. Complete with "how to" and "sample forms" sections, this book will help you define your role as a school social worker and hone your clinical skills. The ethical and legal conflicts that school social workers face, including child abuse reporting, confidentiality, suicidality and bullying are discussed. The struggle of defining your role as a mental health clinician in an academic setting is also addressed.

I wrote this book for the new social worker entering the schools for the first time and for the seasoned social worker who could benefit from new activities and workshops for their practice. When I started out as a school social worker, I was faced with many challenges. I remember my first week: I was faced with a child abuse case, a potential suicide risk, and a parent who called and said her child was being bullied and refusing to come to school. I had to handle all of these situations not only quickly, but effectively as well. I wanted to make sure I did the right thing by following the school’s standards and protecting myself as a licensed social worker. I did what any other new social worker would do . . . research! Well, after a rude awakening of finding out that there were very few books or materials to guide me, I decided to take matters into my own hands and create some policies for situations common to school social workers. I created policies and assessment checklists for suicide risk, homicide risk, and substance abuse usage. I also began creating curriculums and workshops about topics that were relevant to schools. I wish that I had had a manual to teach me about all of the vital topics needed to be a school social worker. Sure, I had received a top notch education from one of the best social work schools in the country, but I found myself in a world of unknowns as a social worker entering the schools. Now I want to share what I have created with you!

I wrote this book as a guide for school social workers and counselors. Please note that any and all of the activities and exercises in this book can be altered to fit the needs of your school. There are sample templates and forms that you may take and adapt to fit the needs of your students.

I thank you for reading my book and hope you enjoy the workshops, groups and activities as much as I do!
Alison Varianides, LCSW, is a social worker and psychotherapist in private practice in Westchester County, New York. She has extensive experience working with adolescents, adults, and families. She has worked in the New York City Schools as well as the Westchester County Schools as a school social worker, counseling adolescents with learning and emotional difficulties. In addition, she worked in Dallas, Texas, as a school therapist for grades K-12 and a substance abuse counselor for adolescents and adults.

Varianides received her BA in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude. She received her MSW from New York University, graduating as an LCU Fellow and Merit Scholar for outstanding academic progress and excellent therapeutic work. She also received a Post-Masters Advanced Certificate in working with individuals with autism spectrum disorders from City University of New York, Brooklyn.

Varianides is the founder and executive director of Westchester Psychotherapy, a private group practice located in Westchester County, New York, serving adolescents and adults. She wrote this book in the hope it would help as many school social workers as possible with the daily tasks and struggles facing our school mental health professionals today.

Varianides lives in Westchester County with her husband, Jason. This is her first social work practice book.
Not only is The School Social Work Toolkit informative, but it also addresses the personal conflicts and challenges you may face along the way as a school social worker. The author's reference to her own experience as a school social worker is a nice touch as it is reassuring and encouraging. In addition, the toolkit includes exercises and activities that are realistic and useful for anyone as they can be adjusted to fit your specific needs. Moreover, the examples and step-by-step instructions are thorough and bring the reader a sense of confidence. This hands-on guide is refreshing and a must read for anyone in the social work field.

Catherine Timlin
Offer Examiner, IRS