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September 2020 Educator | Resource of the Month

The Center for Diversity and Social & Economic Justice Educator|Resource is a monthly feature that highlights curricular resources and social work educators who address diversity and justice.

Cultural Nuances in International Social Work Practice: The Philippines

COVID-19 surprised the world because of its unique etiology and its impact on global society. Self-introspection took me to my country of origin—the Philippines, a distant archipelago of 7,641 islands. How could social workers in the Philippines effectively provide services during this pandemic when, according to the Asian Development Bank, more than 16% of the population lives in poverty?

Under these harsh conditions, social workers lucky enough to retain employment are faced with a new reality—figuring out how to manage their caseloads or lack of work under COVID-19 while also sustaining their health and the needs of their families. Acknowledging and handling emotions and fatigue and the need for self-care in this pandemic is a major ethical challenge facing social workers across the world, based on data from a recent study by the International Federation of Social Workers. In response to the situation in the Philippines, I delivered a live-streamed webinar on self-care for Filipino social workers and other mental health practitioners who are providing services to those affected by this pandemic. 

The webinar, Surviving While Serving the COVID 19 Pandemic: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Social Workers and Mental Health Practitioners in the Philippines, unpacked several methods and interventions that address mental health and self-care needs in the unique context of Filipino culture. Sponsored by the Philippine Association of Social Workers, it was viewed by more than 3,500 practitioners across the islands. This Educator|Resource presents an abridged version of the original 2-hour webinar.

Teaching Resources

In the context of international social work practice, this Educator|Resource explores what approaches to self-care reveal about Filipino culture. Although using standard self‐care skills, the approaches are interpreted through a Filipino cultural lens situated in the unique social context of the country. Self-care skills are chosen that align with Filipino culture. Participants are encouraged to draw on their cultural philosophies—a mantra, a proverb, a belief, a code, or a prayer to cling to. Indigenous languages are interspersed, providing a source of validation for participants.

In addition to the webinar, several teaching resources offer background materials.

Q&A: Educator Pedagogical Approach

When has self-care been most applicable in your experience as a social worker and what do you do to achieve life balance?

My professional experiences as a social worker in the prison system, in schools, and currently in the university setting have been the most challenging... I assess my social work footprint daily, being mindful that life struggles are a process that cannot be controlled, but can be managed. 


About the Educator

Guia Calicdan-Apostle.jpg

Guia Calicdan-Apostle, DSW, MSSW is an associate professor of social work at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Stockton University. She is a university co-convener of the Committee on Campus Diversity and Inclusive Excellence and serves as the advisor to the Pilipino-American Students Association of Stockton.

The views expressed in the Educator|Resource are those of the educator(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council on Social Work Education.

 Interested in contributing to the Educator | Resource of the Month? Please contact Dr. Yolanda Padilla, CSWE Diversity Center Director, at [email protected].