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2014-2015 Academic Year Student Evaluations
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Butler P storyAn Interdisciplinary Approach to Treating Adolescent Eating Disorders

Helping a teenager recover from an eating disorder requires the support of professionals, family, peers, and others in an adolescent’s rapidly expanding world. While that concept might seem simple and obvious, Dr. Patrick Butler said that creating a high functioning, collaborative treatment team requires professionals trained to think and plan from the perspective of “person in environment.”

Butler, who earned his MSW in 2000 and doctorate in social work in 2009 from USC, came to the program with experience working directly with troubled teens. Through his graduate work he gained more powerful tools to organize the best practices of a broad array of professions to serve individuals more effectively at a macro level.

Butler has been working in Oklahoma City since August 2013, when he relocated to take a faculty position in Adolescent Medicine at the University of Oklahoma (OU) College of Medicine. He came to OU from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston with a physician colleague to start an eating disorders program at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center. “It was an unmet need in Oklahoma, as we provide full inpatient and outpatient programming to all adolescents in the state,” Butler said.

An adolescent who develops an eating disorder may have close friends who value thinness, parents who overly focus on achievement, or a personality that cultivates perfectionism, creating the possibility for those factors and others to twist into a spiral of unhealthy behaviors. “An eating disorder is never caused by any one factor,” Butler said. “Having an interdisciplinary treatment team in place is the gold standard to address the complexity of eating disorders in adolescence.”

The medically based inpatient program serves patients ages 10 to 23, and focuses on patient-centered, family supported care that is developmentally appropriate. “Our treatment team of physicians, nursing, mental health, a dietitian, child life, physical therapy, and chaplaincy all bring unique skills and perspective to work with our patients.” The outpatient clinic has consistently grown in treating adolescents with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and a host of additional adolescent health concerns including women’s health and obesity.

Mental health services will continue to expand. “We plan to hire an additional mental health provider in 2014 and work with the Zarrow School of Social Work at OU to provide field education to MSW students in the coming academic year,” said Butler. “Meeting the need for highly trained providers is a huge part of our mission.” Adolescent Medicine’s clinical, research, training, and advocacy footprint will continue to make the safety net more robust for Oklahoma youth. “Our ability to support and increase the base of passionate, committed stakeholders in adolescent health will make all the difference in improving  outcomes.”

Sparking Change in South Carolina

Spigner K300When Katrina Spigner enrolled in the USC College of Social Work, she knew she wanted to use her master’s degree to solve problems on a larger scale than one family at a time.

Spigner, who graduated in 2003, has been using her skills to develop and facilitate the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina's catalytic grant-making program. As senior program director, she helps administer the grant review process and coaches organizations that win grants. She is responsible for strategic grants, which accounted for $627,000 of the foundation’s $2.1 million in grants in 2013. She also oversees the foundation’s Carolina Academy, an education component of the foundation's work to enhance the skills needed by nonprofit leaders to build organizational capacity.

Spigner continues as a learner. She’s now pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational leadership.

After a series of life changes, Spigner said her path veered toward social work. In  1999 changes included marriage separation and loss of her father. At 36 years old with two young children, she realized that her career prospects were limited because she had only a high school diploma.

Spigner enrolled in the Evening College at Columbia College to earn her bachelor’s degree in social work. Juggling two part-time jobs, each day she would come home, kiss her children goodnight before settling down to write papers and prepare for exams.

She graduated with honors in 2001, and decided to pursue her master’s in social work at USC through its full-time, accelerated program. She enrolled in the summer of 2002. She learned how to engage communities and advance change through courses in organizational change and organizational capacity building.

She studied under Drs. Sadie Logan and Teresa Tirrito, now both retired, and Dr. Cynthia Forrest, now a professor of social work at Winthrop University. She also worked part-time at the USC Center for Child and Family Studies. Her experiences allowed her to see that social work wasn’t confined to handling cases for a state agency.

In 2003, she graduated with the College of Social Work faculty's highest honor for academic excellence. After graduation, she served as the director of field internships and as a social work lecturer at Columbia College.

In 2005, Spigner joined the staff of the Sisters of Charity Foundation in 2005—allowing her to deepen her practice. She is able to work closely with the people she’s serving. She can hear their stories, and connect them with her own experiences. Her training from USC then helps her understand the context that allows her to work toward systemic change.

“The program opened my vision of the possibilities,” she said. “Those of us who are committed to this vocation of social work, we have the opportunity to offer others transformation.”

boltzdorene 350x350Dorene Boltz, LISW-CP, (’02) loves working with people and helping them deal with trauma they have experienced. As a psychotherapist at Joint Behavioral Health Services at Moncrief Army Community Hospital at Fort Jackson, she works with active duty service members and veterans who have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition to one-on-one therapy, Boltz conducts several classes for her clients. One of them, Transitioning Warzone Skills, focuses on helping veterans recognize and tone down the survival strategies that have served them well in the warzone, but that are not as needed or helpful in their home lives. Another class, Mindfulness Meditation, teaches clients to regulate their emotions and helps them relax.

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Cooper-Lewter - Agent of Change“Walking Alongside” the Marginalized at Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina

USC College of Social Work alumna Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter has been working as an agent of change in South Carolina—but not in ways that many would expect of a social work professional.

As the Senior Director of Research at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, Dr. Cooper-Lewter is engaged in a field that she says often is “not the first thing on the radar” for social work graduates. “A lot of students don’t think about philanthropy,” she said. “But we need social workers to be a part of the conversations about investing in different social issues.”

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Martin A 350x350Amanda Martin, ’03, embodies the ethos and spirit of life-changing social work. She received the College of Social Work’s Alumna of the Year Award in 2010 for her work in Guatemala and her service in the Peace Corps.

In 2012 she was the plenary speaker at the Rotary International Convention, where she addressed an audience of over 20,000 members in Bangkok. She passionately describes her work in a Burmese refugee camp, where she has established the first public health college for adult refugees on the Thai-Burma border. Over 138,000 refugees reside in nine camps in the area. Martin lives and works in the Umphiem Mai refugee camp.

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