February Fourteen

It’s Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day is a commercial holiday that may celebrate today. Whether you’re celebrating a loved one or celebrating being love. Do not feel down on yourself if you’re not celebrating. We have been convinced that February 14 is a day to create memories, purchase gifts for the ones we love, and accept gifts in return. Like during the holidays it is important to prioritize our mental health on February 14 where many people may fall into a state of depression from not being in a relationship or the inability to find love. Like the holiday season February 14, often is accompanied by stress and depression, feeling that you need to prove to someone that you love them or show others that someone loves you. If you are isolated or feeling stress on February 14, reach out to a friend or a family member for companionship and support.

The Symbolism of Color

“Black and ugly.”

“Light and pretty.”

As a black woman, I am interested in addressing colorism in the black community primarily out of my personal experience and professional interest.

I often hear the dark and light skinned narrative, the biased based on the phenotypical appearance in black communities.

Model: @Kemmy

I notice how these narrative has shaped our community and have remedied harmed against dark-skinned women, such as the damaging trend of skin bleaching and self-hate.

I remember being in a solon listening to a woman describing her eldest daughter, indicating that one daughter started driving. The stylist asked intriguingly if it was the daughter that the woman took to the salon previously. The mother responds…no, not the light pretty one, it is the dark one. Indicating that there is a color differential and that our skin tone serves as the most apparent standard of evaluation.

In our community, we have allowed society to dictate to us about our beauty and worth that we somehow practice these narratives in our community. It is not until we correct the discourse that lighter is better and darker is a mark of disdain, failure and social oppression that we will decrease self-hate, skin bleaching, and generational colorism in our community.

Model :@Kemmy

I call color differentiation in black community intra-colorism. The social privileged, and approval/ liking of lighter skin over darker skin in black families/communities. To change this narrative, we need to get to a place where it is intolerable to judge someone based on their skin color. If we support judgment base on skin shade, how can we be discomposed when someone outside of our community remark that “you look beautiful for a dark skin person” when we have used our skin color as a faction of good or bad, beautiful and ugly.

Becoming a licensed clinical social worker in NJ

Earning your LCSW can be a lengthy and daunted process; however, it is enriching. Today I will give you a brief overview of some of the steps that I took to apply for the LCSW process during COVID- 19 in the state of NJ. Some of the information applies to other states; however, jurisdiction does things differently.

The two components of completing the LCSW are the 3000 clinical hours and the ASWB exam hours. A total of 1920 of the LCSW hours are face to face and 1080 time spent in supervision. 

The first step is to make sure that you find a supervisor, preferably one that will supervise you for free, and a supervisor who has an LCSW and not an LPC or LMFT.  Several LCSW clinicians who are directors/managers provide their services for free to give back to the social work community. It is highly likely and inexpensive to seek a supervisor that already works in your agency. You can also supplement your hours by working part-time/evenings or full time as an IIC (intensive in community counselor) with an agency. They are a dime a dozen in any state. 

The applicant’s responsibility is to verify that their supervisor has completed the required 20 hours to achieve their certification and have been an LCSW for three years. 

The next step I took was to request permission from the NJ social work examiner (on the NJ consumer affairs website) to take the ASWB exam while I was completing my supervision hours. The ASWB exam is 4 hours long…yikes, 170 questions and, the cost is $260.  The ASWB has a practice exam similar to the real exam for $85(highly recommended, read the rationales). You are aware of the exam process if you currently are an LSW. You will need to apply preapproval to take the ASWB LCSW exam by submitting proof that you have successfully completed the academic requirements, earning a master’s degree in social work from an accredited university. Again, this is the process I took. Some of the steps are interchangeable.

I recommend taking the exam during completing the clinical hours in case you must retake the exam. You will need to wait 90 days; there is an exception if your Job depends on the license, you will need documentation from your place of employment or immediate manager stating such. You will also need to repay the $260 fee and reregister with the ASWB on their website or call. After registering, you will wait a day or two to receive a link to register on the Pearson Vue website to schedule the exam at a Pearson location near you. You can take the exam in any state despite your jurisdiction. For instance, if you are registered as a NJ LSW and wants to be an LCSW, you can schedule to take the exam while you are on vacation in Miami at a Pearson VUE location in that area…I took my exam in NY. However, if you want to change your NJ license to another state …that is a different story. 

The proposed plan of supervised clinical experience 

Start working on your proposed supervision of plan. Remember, there are many ways to complete the LCSW steps, my method is not set-in-stone, but I highly encourage you to complete the plan and submit it to the Division of Consumer Affairs State Board of Social Work. If there is additional information needed, the board will communicate that to you versus submitting both the proposed plan and the LCSW application at the end of finishing your clinical hours only to find out that that additional information is needed, thus delaying the process. Remember that the board only meets once per month. In this step, you will submit your supervisor’s credential, that is, the certificate, their resume.

Another important step that sometimes gets overlooked is making sure that your job description meets the clinical requirement. If it does not, you will be notified when you submit your proposed plan of supervised clinical hours, and you should submit your job description along with the information afro mentioned for your supervisor.  You may reach out to your HR department if you feel that your job description on paper does not reflect the skills you perform daily at work, they may be able to adjust it or if you need to find another agency to supervise you…. now is the time to know. I have seen a college almost change career due to finishing her hour and was denied because her agency job description was not clinical enough” I recommend that you submit the supervisor’s certificate, resume and, a copy of their LCSW certificate along with your documents.

Duration: The process took me two years, and it can take from two to four years from the date of completion to finish it.

How to document the hours: Create a word or an excel document with columns for the clients’ initial, the theme hours, and the amount of time that you spend during the 1:1 session.  You can use in your documentation log are assessment, case reviews, consultation, crisis counseling, treatment planning. The NASW-NJ Chapter has a sample documentation log on their website, or you can create your own. Here is a sample documentation log that I used:

Submission of the LCSW application…YAYY: The supervisor should complete pages 13 and 14; the applicant is responsible for notarizing the application (2 pages). Your supervisor may choose to type a one-page summary of why they think you should be granted the LCSW license, it is not mandatory, but it won’t hurt. Remember to submit the application with your ASWB exam scores. The application can be submitted via email.

Contacts: You can contact  SocialWork@dca.njoag.gov  or Mrs. Courtney that I used throughout the process, and she was very responsive Turner-turnerC@dca.njoag.gov (973) 504-6495, Fax: (973) 792-4267. 

Finally, after you have accumulated all the hours, sit back and relax. The process after submission took close to a month for me to receive a license number by email. You can check the social work examiner’s website for the meeting dates as a guide to when you may receive a response.

Emotional Wellness: Unwanted Weight.

How often do you hear the phrase, lose weight, and feel great?

 What exactly does that mean to you?

This phrase is symbolic of the unspoken contentment of letting go of body weight, the flesh. We find contentment believing that losing weight alone will make us feel wholesome. For me, it is a provisional sense of satisfaction that will fade. For me, it is less of looking like what society expects me to resemble and more of finding peace of mind, having control over my thought, and blocking toxicity from my mind.

I am not a big girl, but I am not skinny either. Indeed, I would like to fit in my old medium size dresses without having to stuff myself inside and hold my breath when someone approaches me frontwards.

Let us get into it; over a year ago, I realize that losing weight for me means less fitting into a size medium dress and more on the spectrum of mental wellness. Do not get me wrong; I want to be free of limitations, sporting my wardrobe. But I feel like it is uncompromising to be both physically and mentally whole.

Hiking on the Palisade, NJ

 Taking away the dead weight from my mind, the people that exploit you, the expectations that I place on myself, the critic I become when I make mistakes, and the expectations that society inherently places on us. You see, it is not until I try to lose that weight that I have started on a journey of true greatness. Please understand that taking care of your mental health is equally or if not more important than taking care of your physical health.

 While we may see the effects of the extra cookies, the wines, and the ice cream around our waist, we don’t often see the results of stress, self-torture, and the constant comparison of ourselves to the success of others.  

Taking a hike on the Delaware water gap…Escape reality into nature.

Surely losing weight can be right for you, as is watching what you eat, but that’s not what I’m saying here. I am saying that being skinny didn’t make me happy. Of course, I am not implying that I’m content being on the bigger side of life, but I am focused less on the aesthetic and physical physique and more on my overall wellness. Let us not abandon our mental health, do not be fooled into thinking that I will be great when I’m skinny when I lose weight this year. Let us be great now by practicing mindfulness, giving ourselves credit, and stop overthinking.

It is not until it is too late where the damage has already been done we realize the magnitude of weight on our minds. Eventually, we have started having mental breakdowns, self-hating, or we go into a social recluse. Perhaps for many, it’s too late, and if you are reading this, it is not too late to assess the weight you carry on your mind. Let go of the expectations that stranger have for you, forgive and be kind to yourself, and most importantly, take care of your emotional well-being.