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VSW Interview with Julie Gerber, MSW, RSW SPIRITUAL COACH

Conversation between Sierra Israel and Julie Gerber

How would you define social work?

Social Work is an opportunity to serve others in their journey of discovery and healing. Social work allows one to offer safe space to others and provide compassion to others in pain. 

What drew you to the social work profession?

After experiencing a personal health transformation at a young age, I knew I wanted to help others who are struggling and feeling lost and to guide them along a journey of self-love and self-empowerment. I began fully investing myself in personal development (and watching a lot of Oprah…come on, who does not love Oprah?!?)

I catapulted myself into studying the work of leading self-help authors including Eckhart Tolle, Tony Robbins, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, and Gabrielle Bernstein, among others. At the same time, I developed a desire to use my personal experience to help others heal from their eating disorder. This led me to pursue professional training in a Masters of Social Work program. 

What is your current role?

Through my social work career, I became aware that there was more to healing besides working on one’s thoughts, beliefs and emotions. There was a missing element… spiritual healing. I completed my I am the first and only trained CONSCIOUSNESS COACH™ in Canada. After working in the social work field for 10 years specializing in eating disorders, I pursued my CONSCIOUSNESS COACHING® Certification at The Academy of Soul Empowerment. I now have my own spiritual coaching practice @empoweredsoulcoaching where I offer 1 to 1 coaching to women to help heal their relationship with food and their body so they can have inner freedom.

What is the favourite part of your “job”?

Helping clients make breakthroughs and transformations that allow them to live an empowered life.

What supports are available to you in your workplace/organization?

Throughout my career, my workplace has offered EAP services; however, valuing my own physical and emotional wellbeing, I have sought different sources of support such as energy healers, like-minded individuals, teachers, and peer support networks.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how does it relate to social work?

The ability to heal people’s wounds. Through the years I have witnessed many clients be in a place of pain and I would love to have the power to take away their pain. 

What has been one of your biggest learning opportunities in social work practice?

The biggest opportunity is working with a multidisciplinary team and learning new clinical skills beyond my social work education. Learning to appreciate different perspectives from other professionals is also a highlight for me. 

How do you practice self-care?

I have a morning ritual which includes meditation, prayer, and a practice of gratitude. I also ensure I’m caring for my spiritual and emotional self on a regular basis.

What advice you can give new social workers entering the field?

Learning to have balance with your personal and professional life is essential to not burning out. Find strategies to leave the emotional work at the office versus taking that home – set clear boundaries, stick to your schedule, learn to be okay with saying no when you know you can’t emotionally take on anything more. Most importantly, take your lunch! I know that sounds simple but taking time away from the office during the day helped me so much. 

What is your guiding value and why it is meaningful for you?

My guiding value is authenticity. If I’m not being true to myself, it’s difficult for me to ask others to do the same.

What do you wish the general public knew about social work?

Social workers do have a vast knowledge and education that can allow them to be an important part of your healing journey. 

Voices of Social work is committed to highlighting the efforts of Social Workers from all over the world. If you or someone you know would like to be interviewed please contact us at voicessocialwork@gmail.com and we can share your story.

Thank you, Julie, for your time and your leadership in the Social Work profession.

Canada and US Resources to Do Field Remotely: Social Work Educators Response to COVID-19.

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

March 22, 2020

Many social work students in Canada are required to move to remote learning starting on Monday March 23rd, 2020. Canadian Association for Social Work Education offered the following guidelines for social work programs https://caswe-acfts.ca/covid-19-communication-field-education-placements/ and encouraged programs to develop remote learning plans with students.

To facilitate work for field liaisons, field instructors, field coordinators, and to support students learning, I have uploaded the guide for remote learning in field settings that include 12 discussion topics and 7 learning activities that I have used with my students. I also added some sample learning activities in the guide that social work field program can apply for remote learning. https://krasun.ca/remote-learning-practicum-discussion-topics-and-learning-activities/

In recognition of the CASWE-ACFTS Board of Directors’ recommendation to suspend on-site field education placements and allow for Remote Learning Plans (RLPs), CASWE-ACFTS requested access to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) online webinar library to support students in this endeavour. To access CASW webinars for free, please go to https://www.casw-acts.ca/en/webinars  Again, no account or login is required for access recorded webinars until May 30, 2020. Please note that for students seeking to register for upcoming webinars, there is a requirement on the sign-up page to input your CASW affiliation. Students may select the CASW partner organization in the province or territory they are studying, regardless if they are a member at this time. If students are having issues accessing CASW’s webinar resource, please have them contact casw@casw-acts.ca directly. The University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work compiled list of free training from US for MSW students: https://socialwork.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Online-Training-Guide-for-FIFSW-Practicum-Students.pdf

In US Melanie Sage from University of Buffalo shared many US-based resoruces that allows students to create remote learning plans and safely work from home to complete their field requirements: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mXxjFJxd2J6t_pwioWKBYSaCbO5kVOjbb2dsXlpZmRs/edit#gid=0

I will highlight 10 of the essential resources from Melanie’s list that can be applied to the Canadian context:

  1. Jack, Joseph & Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences offers a detailed Field Education Continuity Plan for Disruption of Field Placement Activities. Lots of learning activities listed based on CSWE core competencies: https://case.edu/socialwork/sites/case.edu.socialwork/files/2020-03/CWRU%20Mandel%20School%20Remote%20Field%20Activities%20Policy%20%26%20Guidance%20%283.11.20%29.pdf
  2. NCA&T/UNCG Joint BSW Field Program categorized Remote Field Learning Resources into online training options and ideas for remote learning: https://sites.google.com/uncg.edu/bsw-field/
  3. Meredith Powers, Phd, MSW offers insightful ideas and tips for Meaningful Remote Tasks for Field https://docs.google.com/document/d/13pi5ab0hBCwMLvcrIoagt5106Scq-CQvLsMxfv37WB0/edit
  4. The St. Louis Field Education Collaborative has developed a plan to address temporary disruption to students’ social work field placements due to national or local events such as communicable diseases, natural disasters, and/or civil unresthttp://www.naddssw.org/pages/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Interruption-of-Field.pdf
  5. US social work response to COVID-19 can be found on CSWE website: https://cswe.org/News/News/CSWE-Responding-to-Coronavirus
  6. The University of Maryland School of Social Work Office of Field Education send a notice to Students, Field Instructors, Agency Coordinators and Liaisons and include Field Education Remote Activity Plan, Field Education Disruption Plan Activities and Field Education Remote Activities attachments: https://myemail.constantcontact.com/CORRECTED-VERSION–UMSSW-Coronavirus-Field-Placements-Update—3-13-20.html?soid=1114009451637&aid=OiWC-PMXd4k
  7. Ohio State University offers some reflective question related to COVID-19: https://csw.osu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-Virtual-Student-Activity.pdf
  8. Laurel Iverson Hitchcock, Melanie Sage and Nancy J. Smyth shared Technology-Based Learning Task List for Social Work Education (Version 1.1 – 6/13/16) https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByR_E-iQH7PdaU1XTk5ocHEzZnM/edit
  9. National Association of Deans and Directors Schools of Social Work collects all the Coronavirus and Field-work Contingency Plans http://www.naddssw.org/resources/coronavirus-and-field-work-contingency-plans
  10. The School of Social Work at the University of Buffalo developed the page to provide resources and tools to help our faculty, staff and students stay informed and remain productive during the COVID-19 pandemic: http://socialwork.buffalo.edu/about/covid-19.html#title_0

Winter Weather in Kamloops

Wind Chill and Cold Weather Safety

A few days during the year in Kamloops when the temperature is cold, the wind can make it feel even colder. This is called the wind chill factor. Be extra careful on those days as the cold and wind can give you frostbite if your skin is exposed for too long. If you get frostbite, go to the hospital.

Snow Storm and Road Cleaning

When the snow falls in Kamloops be extra careful on the roads. The City clears roads and select sidewalks in priority order by dividing the roads into (1) Arterial Roads that are cleared within 4 hours of the completion of a snow event (2)  Collectors and Residential Bus Routes within 16 hours of the end of a storm and (3) Residential Streets within 36 Hours. Priority is given to hills over level streets. You can check the Kamloops Snow Cleaning Priorities Map to know when your street will be plowed after the snowstorm

Clothing for weather in Kamloops

Tourism Kamloops offers the following clothing tips to enjoy the four seasons in Kamloops.

In spring, long pants, a waterproof jacket, sweater, hat/umbrella and close-toed shoes are appropriate.

For summer one needs shorts, t-shirts, sandals, a hat, and a light sweater or jacket. Make sure you have a bathing gear as there is a lot of places near Kamloops where you can swim in pristine, clear waters. Please use sunscreen and sunglasses as Kamloops has many hot sunny days.

More clothing is needed to enjoy a fall in Kamloops. Early fall is still warm, but some days can be chilly so please have pants/long shorts, t-shirts, sweaters, jackets and different types of shoes. The tempereature can range from 25 degrees (Celsius) at the beginning of the fall season, to 0 to 5 degrees (Celsius) closer to November.  The freezing temperatures are also a possibility so keep layering your clothing when necessary.

The layered clothing is a must to enjoy winter in Kamloops. Warm jackets/vests, gloves/scarfs and close-toed shoes and boots are appropriate. Depending on one’s activities, sunglasses and snow-gear (i.e. snow pants and thermal underclothes) are also necessary.

Kamloops Weather by Season

Kamloops has four distinct seasons. Tourism Kamloops states that Kamloops is British Columbia’s second-sunniest City with over 2,000 hours of sunshine annually.

Spring (March to May) is moderately cold with a mix of sunshine, wind and rain.

Summer (June to mid-September) can reach 30+ degrees (Celsius) with the odd rainstorm and relatively low humidity.

Fall (Mid-September to November) offers beautiful warm sunny days, but colder nights and a more chill wind.

Winter (December to February) in Kamloops can be snowy and cold, yet many days are sunny. Somedays the wind is strong. The weather in the valley part of Kamloops is quite mild with low temperatures  -5 to -15 degrees (Celsius) and minimal snowfall. At the same time, the mountainous parts of Kamloops receive heavy snowfall and the temperature can drop to -30 degrees Celsius.

If you are a tourist newcomer to the Kamloops Champion Traveler website suggests the best time to visit Kamloops, BC, Canada are from May 21st to October 7th based on average temperature and humidity from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The website also provides a brief overview of the monthly weather forecast, temperature, perceived temperature, rain and snow, humidity and wind and overall travel experience by the time of year. One can also learn about the average cost of the trip to Kamloops from Champion Traveler

Kamloops Temperature and Climate

The temperature in Kamloops is measured on the Celsius scale.  The average temperatures in Kamloops are not as cold as in many other parts of Canada. One can check the current temperature in Kamloops on the Government of Canada Website or CBC Weather Center. The temperature is measured at Kamloops Airport, so it might be slightly different if you live in the mountainous parts of Kamloops.

Weather Atlas provides monthly weather forecasts and climate information for Kamloops, Canada. Please check their website to learn the average temperature, humidity, rainfall, snowfall, daylight and UV index in Kamloops for each month.

Wikipedia offers the following information about Kamloops climate: Kamloops has mild winters. The only other two non-coastal cities that have warmer winters also located in BC are Penticton and Kelowna. Kamloops is located above 50° north latitude, but summers are hot with dry and sunny weather. The dry weather in summer creates an opportunity for thunderstorms to ignite forest fires around the Kamloops area. The highest temperature was recorded in July 1939 and 1941 was around 42°C (107 °F). The coldest temperature was −38.3 °C (−37 °F) on 6 and 8 January 1950.

Kamloops Geography and Neighbourhoods

Kamloops is located in the Thompson Valley, surrounded by mountains, rivers, forests, deserts, and grasslands. Here one can search for fossils while swimming in more than 100 lakes, visit the grasslands, take a ferry and drive to Alpine Village of Sun Peaks while exploring sage-covered hills under wide-open skies, all in a single day.

The City of Kamloops consists of the following neighbourhoods: City Centre, North Shore, Valleyview, Dallas, Raleigh, Heffley Creek, Sahali, Aberdeen, Knutsford, Brocklehurst, Batchelor Heights, Westsyde. Juniper Ridge, Mount Dufferin, Rose Hill, Campbell Creek, Barnhartvale, Mission Flats, Tranquille on the Lake so do your research on where you plan to live and know your area as the weather can slightly be different if you live in the mountain parts of Kamloops versus flat parts of Kamloops. Check the list of the Kamloops Postal Codes. One can click on the name of the selected neighbourhood to find the recent neighbourhood plan or Google one for your neighbourhood. The Kamloops Plan (KAMPLAN) can help one to know city priorities for each neighbourhood.