Month: September 2021

Shall We Zoom? Benefits and Challenges of Providing Group Work Services in a Virtual Environment

All practitioners of groups are welcome – those currently facilitating in the virtual world and those facilitating in person groups who are interested in developing new knowledge and skills to integrate into their practice.

Joan Letendre, PhD, LCSWRegister for CE programs now

Thursdays, December 2 and 9, 2021
1 pm – 3 pm
4 CECs

$80 – UConn SSW Alumni and Current Field Instructors
$100 – All Others

Webinar link will be emailed when your registration is complete.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us personally and professionally. At a time when many of us were experiencing personal challenges related to the pandemic, we were asked to develop ways of creating positive virtual group experiences in our agencies, communities, and classrooms. Flexibility and creativity were called for as practitioners and educators adapted new models for working safely with clients so in need of services during this time.  With the use of technology for delivering services, it was necessary to adapt different ways of engaging and working with students, group members and colleagues. This 2-part webinar will focus on the challenges and successes of this work.

We will have an opportunity to learn about and experience a virtual group as we examine this model.  We will pay special attention to the elements that foster group engagement and development of mutual aid. In Session 1, we will focus on planning and engagement of members in the overall group and each session and activity. Much of the planning will involve the translation of elements of an in-person group to one that is virtual. In Session 2, we will use a problem-solving model to address the common challenges that group workers encounter (high and low participation, conflict, value-laden topics, curriculum vs process etc.).  Instructor and participant examples will be used to illustrate the problem-solving model that encourages members to be active participants in learning from one another and offering mutual aid.

Using didactic instruction, small and large group discussions, activities, and videos, participants in this 2-part webinar will:

  • Develop a group climate where we can share the challenges and successes of on-line formats of group service delivery
  • Review planning and engagement strategies and apply to on-line formats
  • Share different creative strategies for developing a climate of support and mutual aid in on-line groups
  • Review the problem-solving model in relation to common group challenges that may be exacerbated by the on-line format
  • Learn to manage conflict in a way that gives affirmation to many points of view

JSWE Focuses on Education During the Pandemic

Dr. Cristina Wilson, Associate Professor and Research Director, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UConn Health), coedited a special issue of the Journal of Social Work Education (JSWE) that included 19 articles focused on best practices and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and prior natural disasters. Visit the CSWE website to read more and access the special issues. 

SSW Alumni Spotlight: Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro, MSW

Alumna Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro












  1. Name, Profession Title, SSW Class & Concentration.

Barbie Nadal-Cristofaro MSW, 092 (pending), 2016 – Administration and Case Work

  1. Briefly describe your current career path.

I have been fortunate to continue doing community work around many social issues. Currently, my role as Vice-Chair for Interval House Connecticut allows me to create awareness on domestic violence and intimate partner violence issues; it is the largest safe house in the state. I am proud to serve my community and give back to the very agency that I once resided in. I am also a school social worker for Hartford Public Schools and I run a small business, ‘Ends2meet LLC’, which creates awareness on poverty and provides people with basic needs including counseling. Additionally, I am the Co-owner of ‘2AssureUS’ LLC, which will be providing consultation services for mental health startups and offer therapeutic services as well as parenting programs.

  1. What are your favorite hobbies?

No hard work goes without some fun! Family and good friends are priorities. I make time to enjoy traveling, working with photography and hosting events.

  1. What was your favorite moment at UConn SSW?

Some of my favorite moments were making lifelong friends even though I came in as an adult learner. Additionally, I was fortunate to meet inspiring professors who demonstrated trust in my abilities and even donated to my then cause, End2meet.

  1. What is something you learned at UConn SSW that still applies to your work today?

I learned to be a better leader and not to give up, especially when the moments are challenging! It is in these areas where our strength is found. I learned that our gut feeling is more important than the credit it gets. Most importantly, I learned more about advocacy and today most of my work revolves around it, whether I am speaking up for a student’s needs, joining a cause, speaking at events, creating awareness, building equity and hope all comes from knowing the importance of advocacy.


The Role of Self-Stigma in Engagement in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Associate Research Professor Hsiu-Ju Lin is working on several federally funded projects related to the opioid crisis. She is a co-investigator on a Nation Institute of Drug Abuse funded Diversity Supplement study for Transitions Clinic Network: Post Incarceration Addiction Treatment, Healthcare, and Social Supports (TCN-PATHs). To read more about the TCN-PATHs project, visit the UNC Center for Health Equity Research website.