How it Began
Dr. Sara Cadalig, DSW, LCSW, and Yvonne Berenguer MSW of Wellness Options LLC, founders of the Catalysts Redefining Resilience and Leadership Excellence (CR²CLE) Executive Program, are two social workers who personally understand the needs of social service practitioners, rooted from their own experiences in the social services profession.
In our profession, we recognize that the systemic problems impacting employee and organizational wellness are massive, including but not limited to high caseloads, turnover rates, limited financial resources, and inequity in salaries as compared to other professions (Choi et al., 2015; Dysvik & Kuvaas, 2013; Moynihan & Landuyt, 2008). Although CR²CLE does not resolve these issues, it does provide a pathway to work towards addressing the concerns of occupational stress, mental health stigma, and workplace isolation, which are a part of the critical issues affected by the systemic problems that exist in the profession. These concerns have been recognized and emphasized as areas to address, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NASW (National Association of Social Workers), as the leading professional social work organization, has updated the profession's Code of Ethics to include the importance of self-care:
"Professional self-care is paramount for competent and ethical social work practice. Professional demands, challenging workplace climates, and exposure to trauma warrant that social workers maintain personal and professional health, safety, and integrity. Social work organizations, agencies, and educational institutions are encouraged to promote organizational policies, practices, and materials to support social workers' self-care." (NASW, 2021)
There is a greater understanding of the importance of addressing workplace climates and occupational stress, especially for social service providers who are at the emotional front lines providing critical services and supporting the needs of communities during a crisis.
Program Design and Development
CR²CLE is a strengths-based, human-centered and innovative program, guided by the feedback collected from social service providers. CR²CLE is designed to meet social services managers, employees, and organizations' unique needs.
The CR²CLE Program is designed specifically for social service managers. CR²CLE promotes individual and organizational resilience by providing social service employees with skills to strengthen resilience, well-being, leadership, and community. The program is grounded in the evidence-based practices of mindfulness and compassion, including other empirically validated skills and strategies.
The CR²CLE Program teaches participants the following evidence-based strategies:
Mindfulness and Compassion
Connection and Community
CR²CLE is a hybrid, online and in-person class instruction, comprised of three workshop modules, with eight weekly classes in each workshop series, for a total duration of 24 weeks. Each weekly class is 90 minutes in length. In addition, upon completion of the Program, social service managers will have the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge by attending the CR²CLE Executive Program's three-day Facilitator's Training Workshops that will prepare them to facilitate the Program for their agency.
The CR²CLE Program's design and delivery of instruction are based on a strengths-based and growth mindset approach, where social service managers will learn by way of group presentations, lectures, small group activities, discussions, videos, and hands-on projects, which will allow for a wide variety of learning modalities to enhance the learning experience. In addition, the strengths-based and growth mindset approaches help promote innovative thinking, critical problem-solving skills and strengthen cohesiveness within the community learners (Klein et al., 2017; Hildrew, 2018).
Resilience Skill Sets
Why is this program critical to social services managers, employees, and organizations?
Research indicates that psychological distress and mental health stigma are the two contributing factors to social isolation experienced by social service providers (Kagan & Itzick, 2020; Samari et al., 2018; Tay et al., 2018).
References for the videos are available upon request.
*34% OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES (CPS) WORKERS MEET THE CRITERIA FOR PTSD
(Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare [CASCW], 2018)
* 64 % OF SOCIAL WORKERS EXPERIENCED BURNOUT DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
(Holmes et al., 2021)
*50% OF PSYCHOTHERAPISTS EXPERIENCE BURNOUT
(Simionato & Simpson, 2018)
* 70% OF PSYCHOLOGISTS EXPERIENCE SOCIAL ISOLATION DUE TO MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA IN THE WORKPLACE
(Tay et al., 2018)
Impacts on Social Service Agencies
The impacts of psychological distress and mental health stigma extends beyond the employee, also impacting service delivery and the organization, as a whole.
CR²CLE Executive Leadership Program
Parts of the CR²CLE program have been tested with social service providers.
Here is what they had to say about their experiences in the classes:
I have worked for this agency for over ten years. Having training like this was a reminder as to why I invested so much of my life in this agency. I feel like having this training shows that they actually care about the workers.
When I’m with my children I’m less likely to freak out when they are doing something; overall I have become a more patient mother. I realize that they are frustrated at times too, it has taught me to be a better mother.
It can be emotionally draining when I encounter clients who are resistant to change. Now instead of dwelling on why the client is being difficult, I am more compassionate about what they are going through and I question what are the barriers for this client that is causing them to miss an appointment or a visit.