Smiling woman with long brown hair standing in front of a fountain
Renee Rawcliffe, School of Social Work director of continuing education and professional development

From helping clients cope with the effects of the pandemic to creating more climate-resilient communities to learning to heal through the arts, the School’s continuing ed workshops give mental health professionals the opportunity to gain valuable skills and earn credits. Renee Rawcliffe, director of continuing education and professional development, discusses the School’s approach and impact on the behavioral health community.

For social workers and mental health providers, education doesn’t end after getting a degree. Professionals in these fields continue to learn to advance their own knowledge and skills and to meet New York state requirements for them to earn continuing education credits to maintain their licenses.

That’s where Adelphi’s School of Social Work Continuing Education and Professional Development comes in.

The School has been providing courses and workshops—taught by subject matter experts, existing social work faculty and even alumni—to postgraduate students long before these were required by the state. “Adelphi has always been invested in long-term learning,” said Renee Rawcliffe, director of continuing education and professional development for the School of Social Work. “Adelphi’s name recognition is super important. The University has footprints in the behavioral health community. It’s also present in communities outside of Long Island and around the tri-state area. Plus, we now have our online community too, thanks to virtual learning.”

In addition, she pointed out that Adelphi is one of the few schools to have its own stand-alone continuing education program dedicated to social work and accredited to appeal to a wider range of behavioral health professionals, including psychologists, mental health counselors, creative arts therapists and addiction specialists, among several others.

Topics That Matter to Social Workers

Rawcliffe began her Adelphi career as an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work in 2015. Since becoming the continuing education director in September 2019, she’s been instrumental in planning the School’s continuing education courses. She and her team look at gaps in the curriculum, assess local and national trends, listen to the voices of the behavioral health community and then develop relevant workshops in response.

For instance, under her leadership, the School of Social Work has added three new postgraduate certificate programs: Applied Expressive Arts in Counseling, Eating Disorders: Individual and Family Approaches for Clinicians and Environmental Justice for Social Workers: Climate Work Is Social Work.

“These areas have been underserved in the past,” explained Rawcliffe. Created in 2020, the environmental justice workshop is designed to teach social workers how to think of the environmental crisis in their own work, such as how it affects food security, homelessness, migration and generational impact.

Georgianna Lynn Dolan-Reilly was one of the first people to earn the Postgraduate Certificate in Environmental Justice for Social Workers. “The program allowed me to understand the variety of ways that my personal commitment to the environment fit within my professional roles and goals,” she said.

Rawcliffe and her team have tailored other workshops to current issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they added workshops for social workers to better support caregivers and help families cope with death. She continues to assess the needs of the behavioral health community and any relevant trends.

Future workshops include Pics, Texts, and Tracking: Understanding and Addressing Digital Dating Abuse, Self-Care and Resilience for Professionals of Color and a Virtual LMSW/LCSW Licensing Prep Workshop, which Rawcliffe herself teaches.

She said her proudest accomplishment, though, is shifting online and offering virtual learning, increasing Adelphi’s reach and audience. “It was a goal of mine when I started here in 2019,” she said. “COVID helped to expedite that process.” Virtual learning has given the School more international reach, allowed for hybrid (both in-person and online) events and for the School to secure experts outside of the tri-state area as event hosts.

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