From the Director
2021–2022 Masters Fellowship Application
Counseling Awareness Month and Interdisciplinary Practice
Alumni Spotlight: Jessica Cho Kim, LCSW
Honoring Arab-American Heritage: Recognition and Justice
MSWs in the Making: MFP Master's Graduates 2021
Dear Fellows and Alumni,
CSWE’s MFP is pleased to announce the opening of our 2021–2022 Master's MFP application cycle! The application became available on April 5, 2021, and will close on May 11, 2021, at 5:00 PM (EDT). Information on how to apply can be found here.
In observance of Counseling Awareness Month, the CSWE MFP is recognizing the value of interdisciplinary practice among social workers, counselors, and other professionals in the mental health and substance abuse spheres. Spencer L. Middleton, associate director of MFP, shares the following reflections on this.
Interdisciplinary practice in the field of social work is growing in popularity as the discipline continues to witness an alarming rate of individuals experiencing both mental health and substance use disorders. When developing an intervention for the above co-occurring health concerns, social workers are drawn to collaborate or work as a team with psychiatrists, nurses, counselors, and certified substance abuse counselors. In addition to taking responsibility for coordinating their information and interventions, each discipline highlights any social barriers (e.g., racism) that may be obstacles to treatment, thus ensuring that interventions and treatment modalities have an antiracist knowledge base/framework.
The CSWE MFP is excited to partner with the American Psychological Association to help advance interdisciplinary practice in social work by offering the Interdisciplinary Minority Fellowship Program. The purpose of this fellowship program is to support the training of ethnic minority graduate students (doctoral and master’s) who are committed to improving the quality of care for ethnic and racial minorities who have mental or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Applications are currently open until April 15, 2021. Learn more and apply here.
Jessica Cho Kim is a current MFP fellow and University of Pennsylvania doctoral student who is passionate about improving culturally congruent access to mental health services for Asian American youths and families, providing community consultation and training to empower Asian American stakeholders and working with social sector organizations to expand on conventional models of service delivery. She recently wrote “A Call to Healing Asian Racialized Trauma,” a thoughtful piece that resonates with many who feel seen for the very first time. “The MFP experience has provided the support and network I’ve needed to feel empowered to use my voice,” says Ms. Kim. She intends to continue to use her voice to advance scholarship in disaggregated Asian American mental health research that informs meaningful interventions in respective ethnic communities. Furthermore, Ms. Kim’s careers goals revolve around providing clinical consultation to train and equip mental health providers, students, and community stakeholders in culturally congruent mental health policy and practice.
Jessica Saba, MSW (Current MFP Doctoral Fellow)
I was enjoying a morning walk with my friend. “Can I ask you a question?” She paused and then added, “I don’t mean to be offensive.” My heart raced, and I noticed my body tense up, and I let out some nervous laughter. “What do you mark on the census?” The day before, she had seen an advertisement for the 2020 census, and she recognized something was missing. I felt validated because with family origins in Palestine, this has been my struggle since grade school. Looking at the neat boxes, I feel confused about where I fit. I alternate between opting for “other,” Asian, and Latina. Palestine is in Western Asia, and my mother’s family is in Chile, having immigrated from Palestine in the 1800s. I recognized from a young age that the complexity of my identity was not represented on paper.
In light of the observance of Arab Heritage Month and National Minority Health Month in April, I would like to share some thoughts on Arab representation and experiences in the United States.
There is no ethnic or racial category for Arab Americans, as we are instructed to mark White on state and federal surveys. This means that an entire community of South West Asian, North African folks is rendered invisible. Estimates of Arab Americans range from 2 million to 3.6 million (Arab American Institute, 2018). Inaccurate numbers are problematic, especially as related to the allocation of resources. Beyond the lack of recognition, health data is not being adequately tracked, and health disparities are difficult to identify because demographic surveys typically rely on the U.S. Census categories.
Early immigrants, particularly those from the Levant region (Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan) fought to be categorized as White to avoid anti-Asian exclusionary and racist policies and gain U.S. citizenship, which was reserved for free White people (Kayyali, 2013). Although on paper Arabs are categorized as White, this does not translate to social privileges. Additionally, racism against Arabs and Muslims has been linked to adverse health outcomes (Samari et al., 2018).
As social workers, our profession’s values and mission urge us to advocate for social justice. This starts with educating ourselves and others about the continuing racism toward Arabs and Muslims. This includes recognizing and addressing intergenerational trauma in this community, especially as so many immigrated to the United States fleeing war, displacement, and economic devastation.
As social workers, we should continuously interrogate our own biases and dismantle White supremacy. We must work to challenge anti-Arab racism interpersonally and politically. Finally, this issue is not independent of other struggles for justice and equity and should be engaged as a part of a broader antiracist and anti-oppressive movement. As Dr. King reminds us, “an injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Arab American Institute Foundation (2018, April). Demographics. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c96c17de5f7d145081a1f94/t/5ca26409a4222f1874262cb9/1554146316265/National_Demographics_SubAncestries+2018.pdf
Beydoun, K. (2016). Boxed in: Reclassification of Arab Americans on the U.S. Census as progress or peril? Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, 47, 693–760. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2760604
Kayyali, R. (2013). U.S. Census classifications and Arab Americans: Contestations and definitions of identity markers. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39, 1299–1318. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2013.778150
Samari, G., Alcalá, H. E., & Sharif, M. Z. (2018). Islamophobia, health, and public health: A systematic literature review. American Journal of Public Health, 108(6), e1–e9. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304402
The MFP is proud to share “MSWs in the Making,” a booklet that highlights the experience, interests, and career ambitions of our current cohort of master’s fellows. These 42 fellows are poised to make lasting impacts on individuals, groups, and communities through their post-MSW practice. As you explore their background information, please take a moment to consider ways in which fellows’ experiences and goals align with professional opportunities in your sphere.