NASW New York City Chapter responds to Election of Donald J. Trump

Candida Brooks-Harrison, LCSW  President      Bob Schachter, DSW     Executive Director   


Statement on the Outcome of the

Presidential Election 2016


Perspectives from

Our Collective Past, Present & Future


November 10, 2016


NASW-NYC leads from a social justice and race equity position and strives to shine a light on pertinent issues. On Wednesday morning, our Nation and the Global Community awoke to a daylight reality steeped in the history of the United States. This reality most often thrives undercover, but in Election 2016 the world was watching.


It has been said that politics is war by other means.  An expansion of this thought is that politics in America has been an extension of the Civil War. For almost two years we have been engaged in the political warfare of this election process that was divisive and overtly bigoted. Substantive policy messages were lost in vitriolic and inflammatory rhetoric and actual physical violence that harkened deplorable periods in our shared history.


The tactics used have made the divisions of this Nation completely visible and include battles for race equity, women’s rights, gender equality, LGBT rights, income equality, access to health care, criminal justice and immigration reform.


Candida Brooks-Harrison

Candida Brooks-Harrison

The full effects on our Nation and on each of us will be determined over time, but warfare, including political warfare, is traumatic for all. These collective and individual traumas from hundreds of battles over the history of our country remain within our historical memories. For so many these memories have been triggered from the beginning of the election campaign, during the primaries and leading up to the election, and will continue.


Numerous commentators, politicians, pundits, “experts” and others will continue to talk and reflect on the dimensions of the election from political, economic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, moral, and religious perspectives. There will be continued questions about what is to be done, blame and shame about what was not done, and protests.


From a trauma informed perspective, we understand that so many in the social work community, along with the communities we belong to and serve, are experiencing the election process and its outcome at the deepest levels of our being. It is important to recognize the psychological and emotional tolls and the necessity for self-care in varied forms.


To not pay attention, in and of itself, can be dangerous. Trauma reactions can manifest in subtle and overt ways including a general malaise, muscle tension and headaches, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, depression, anxiety, anger, rage or a triggering substance misuse.


Bob Schachter

Bob Schachter

From a social justice and race equity perspective, we understand the deeply rooted divides that were involved in the formation of the United States, which culminated in civil war, and persist today. We understand that activism and organizing are part of making America live up to the ideals that it expresses, but often falls short of in practice. We also understand that activism can be a form of self-care and community-care, ameliorating the sense of helplessness and fear. Social workers have the obligation to adhere to our Code of Ethics (section 6: Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibility to the Broader Society), and the history of the profession as activists for social justice and equity.


There is no doubt that there will be a tremendous amount of activity to figure out where we are regarding the 2016 presidential election and what we believe we can do about it, now and in the long term.  It is with this in mind that NASW-NYC will be committed to playing a leadership role on behalf of the broad social work community, including collaborating with schools of social work, organizations that provide services, and the communities we serve.


At the same time, the aspect of trauma must remain within our awareness, to assure our collective well-being and to maintain our capacity to act with wisdom, compassion and a sense of justice.





  1. To begin, your original “tenor” was an incorrect and snarky comment that “American voters” had spoken. But yes, let’s get to the point of your last comment. We already do know what produces improved outcomes, including access to healthcare and housing.

    To your point about social workers in comparison to mental health practitioners, there are probably not going to be radically different outcomes because all of the mentioned professions/therapies are rooted in similar theoretical backgrounds and concepts. What we can do to advocate for our clients is to NOT work with congress to eliminate funding for programs that are effective and provide access to healthcare like Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and to not eliminate funding for research and programs that prove promising and effective like permanent supportive housing.

    Again you close with another passive aggressive line.. should you need the assistance of a clinical social worker to come to terms with this issue there are many who would be willing to provide service (for a small fee, of course).

    • Michael,

      Thank you for posting the links to the two articles. Although the articles themselves lack evidence of rigorous statistical analysis, they support Medicaid and supportive housing for certain vulnerable populations. They DON’T cite ANY benefits of Professional Social Work interventions, versus other helping professions, in the implementation of these programs.

      Regarding creation of better approaches leading to better outcomes in mental health services, our Code of Ethics calls for Social Work Research to constantly improve the delivery of our services. Our failure to do so is part of the reason managed care reimbursement rates for Clinical Social Workers have not changed in two decades. The profession needs to sell itself to promote effective interventions to Congress and Private Payors is quantitative research resulting in reported data. We need to do a better job at having data tell our stories. This falls within our professional value to “begin where the client is”.

      Regarding your last sentence, I am a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, active on two Institutional Research Boards and have extensive experience as a Clinical Social Worker and administrator. My offer to assist fellow professionals is genuine. EVERY word I write is genuine and from the heart to help my fellow colleagues and the clients we serve. Name calling of “intellectually dishonest” and “snarky” are antithetical to the heart of Social Work, in which our Code of Ethics calls for respect and dignity of ALL people, including those with whom we may disagree.

      It is a blessing that NASW has this blog for dialogue in which me may freely express thoughts and opinions to promote our profession. Thank you NASW!

  2. In keeping with the tenor of the letter originating this post, please allow me to clarify the last sentence in my previous post. The Social Work profession has long prided itself on its value of “begin where the client is”. In the case of lobbying politically-conservative legislators, this calls for us to change our approach from the 1060’s “feel good/it’s the right thing to do” to an outcomes-based message. The profession is very weak in quantitative research demonstrating the efficacy of our services.

    Example: when I was the Quality Improvement Officer for a third party managed mental health payor, we conducted outcomes studies of the therapists in our nation-wide managed care network. Clinical Social Workers showed no statistically-significant difference in treatment outcomes in comparison with Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psychologists.

    If we truly care about the clients we serve, we should be willing to measure our processes and continually improve how we deliver services. This includes services funded by public and private payer sources.

    Should you request assistance with measuring outcomes and improving care, I am willing to consult with your agency accordingly (for a small fee, of course).

  3. Thank you for this statement from a Trauma-Informed Care perspective. It’s certainly interesting as an approach for acceptance of the election results.

    Would you have posted this statement had the elections outcomes been different? Republicans and Conservatives have been utilizing their coping mechanisms over the past eight years.

    • Except their problems were imaginary. President Obama did not take their guns, did not outlaw religion. The current president elect wants to establish a registry based on religion, wants to revoke healthcare for 20 millions people, will privatize and gut Medicare and Medicaid, will break up our international treaties and put people like Myron Ebel in charge of the EPA, did hire a racist and anti Semite as his chief of staff, and will put in tax cuts that any non biased economist would say will increase inequality and increase the deficit.

    • Michael,

      There have been numerous attempts at restricting gun ownership by the current federal government. The President-Elect has called for serious vetting of immigrants from countries that may harbor terrorists in the groups of refugees that have already attacked innocent people in France and Belgium, as well as criminals who have immigrated to the U.S. illegally. He is not discriminating against one particular faith, just trying to keep the people safe from radical Islamist militants. The trade treaties in question have impeded the value of U.S. goods, as have the exhorbitant corporate taxes that drove companies out of the U.S.

      The tax cut plan includes the middle class with plans to make government operations more efficient and cost-effective. The current deficit has been increasing over the past two decades and exceeds our ability to pay for it, even if the top 1% of income earners are taxed 100%.

      Social Workers need to continue in diligence to work WITH their legislators from an empirical perspective.

    • Ah, more intellectual dishonesty from the right. I guess I will have to respond to these point by point.
      1) There have been no attempt to restrict gun ownership. President Obama issued an executive order to expand criminal background checks and mental health services but explicitly said that he was not in favor of repealing the second amendment. He has taken no actions do to so.. which leads to point number 2. Trump has stated that he is going to single out refugees fleeing a war zone based on religious background. He is discriminating against a particular faith and has said so many times. Meanwhile, they Republicans are against gun control measures against known domestic terror groups, 3) US corporations pay minimal taxes and should pay more taxes because the most taxes go to enforce treaties, trade laws and enforcement of those laws that benefit the corporations (let’s call them user fees, what they should actually be called). Finally, the tax cut plan will not benefit the middle class and will lead to further cuts in healthcare spending, and social programs that are the fabric of our civil society.


      Finally, the deficit under President Obama has shrunken from around 9 billion to 2 billion. Often it is blown up by Republican presidents like Reagan, Bush, and (soon to be) Trump by a mixture of tax cuts and military spending. Please show a link to a reputable news site that backs up your claim on the deficit increasing over the past two decades?

      Your last sentence just doesn’t make any sense at all.

  4. Although I belong to the New Jersey chapter, I am originally a New Yorker and I am so proud that the NASW-NY put out this statement. I am in my last year of graduate school for social work, and I can tell you that many of us social work students, particularly from disenfranchised communities, were in full panic mode. Trauma is exactly what we are feeling, and what is sometimes underscored or unheard by the mainstream majority culture, even among social workers. I am forwarding this letter to my school as we prepare to further engage our students and our communities as it is not even clear what will happen to social workers under a Trump presidency? Will we continue to be devalued in society because we continually advocate for a better just society?

    Thank you for this letter.

    • Samantha,

      No panic is needed. Social Workers need to rephrase their lobbying for their programs to help clients. Please remember when seeking funding “begin where the client is”. Rephrasing our messages to elected representatives needs to be less emotional and more data and business focused.

      Our profession has long been lacking with outcomes data to determine how well our interventions are working. We need to conduct research to determine better results with our clients. For example, there are few quantitative outcomes studies to differentiate between clinical social work practice with mental illnesses and other mental health professions. Managed care companies have been measuring our outcomes for years, but we have failed to generate new interventions and practices in response.

      The American voters have spoken and want more effective, safe and non-governmental initiatives for increasing jobs, eliminating terrorism, creating a safer and optimal immigration system and allowing for a bigger free market in health care. Social Workers are uniquely trained and experienced to lead the way in these initiatives.

    • Yes, voters have spoken and their voices have been suppressed unless 20% of our country (NY and CA) are not considered “real” Americans.

    • How was voting suppressed in NY and CA? I must have missed the memo.

    • Ah, nothing like the chronic intellectual dishonesty of the right. You come on, make a false statement that “American voters have spoken” and then come back with a wise retort.

      You did miss the memo. As of the the last count, Clinton is ahead by 1.7 million votes (and growing) in the popular vote count. Are you going to maintain that these people are not “American voters?” Further, when you look at the electoral setup, it is clear how larger states (and more progressive areas) have less voting power. For instance, according to Slate, in Wyoming, there are 143,000 people for each of its three electoral votes. Conversely, New York and California have around 500,000 people for each electoral vote.

      Are you going also going to deny Gerrymandering that distorts congressional district boundaries, and the Supreme Court roll back of the Voting Rights act have have no effect on lowering voter turnout.

      We can argue over semantics, but whether suppression, disenfranchisement, or whichever other term you would want to call it, your statement that “American voters” have had there say is a lie.

  5. Verg well put!
    Mark Rund LCSW
    Chicago, Illinois

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