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Jan. 26, 2010

Professor Lauded for Contributions to Social Work Education

Joan BerzoffNORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College School for Social Work Professor Joan N. Berzoff was recently recognized with the Greatest Contribution to Social Work Education award, annually given by the field’s leading professional organization.

Berzoff, who is an expert in the subject of death, dying and bereavement, will accept the award April 16, during the 38th annual symposium of the National Association of Social Work (NASW) of Massachusetts.

After receiving a master’s degree in social work from Smith, Berzoff earned her doctorate in education from Boston University. She has taught at Smith nearly 30 years, currently leading courses in the doctoral and the end-of-life care programs.

Berzoff lectures widely on issues of death and dying, examining the ways in which grief and loss present both crises and opportunities for mourners. She explores such questions as why some mourners experience death as dangerous and depleting while others find new meanings from it that expand their sense of self.

Earlier this decade, Berzoff was the recipient of one of the first Social Work Leader Awards from the Project on Death in America funded by the Soros Foundation. She also received the Outstanding Scholar Award from the National Academies of Practice. Currently she is the only social worker serving on the Compassionate Care Advisory Board for Aetna.

Berzoff has co-edited four textbooks, including “Inside Out and Outside In: Psychodynamic Theories in Multicultural Contexts,” which is a required text in classrooms nationwide. Her other books include “Dissociative Identity Disorders: the Controversy in the Diagnosis and Treatment” and “Living with Dying: A Handbook for End-of-Life Healthcare Practitioners” published in 2004. She is currently writing “Falling Through the Cracks: Psychodynamically Oriented Clinical Work with Oppressed, Vulnerable and At-Risk Populations” and maintains a private practice in Northampton.

One of the oldest and most distinguished schools for clinical social work in the United States, the Smith College School for Social Work enrolls women and men pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in social work with a concentration in clinical practice. Students alternate three summers of intensive on-campus classroom instruction with two eight-month periods of extensive fieldwork in agencies across the country.

Since its founding in 1918, the school has led the field in developing innovative educational and fieldwork responses to war and trauma.


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