Professional Development Institute

Simmons School of Social Work is a leader in providing professional continuing education for social workers. We offer Category I Continuing Education credits to social workers.

Professional Development Institute

Certificate Programs

Clinical Certificate Program in Advanced Group Work Practice. Spring 2014. Click Here for Course Description and Registration.

This certificate program is designed for professionals with a Masters degree in Social Work who are facilitating groups in diverse settings such as community agencies, hospitals, residential settings, school-based settings, and with children, youth and families.  

As more agencies shift from individual to group focused treatment and increase their group services in order to better meet the needs of their clients, or out of fiscal necessity, practitioners are faced with the challenge of offering an expanded menu of groups, including more specialized groups.  This certificate program will strengthen the skills that clinicians are already utilizing, while providing a more varied and sophisticated conceptual framework and tools with which to practice.

Curriculum Overview and Competencies:

The course will be taught by a team of experienced group workers, each with a distinct area of expertise and with knowledge of best practices and cutting edge techniques. Course content will be delivered in five learning modules.  Participants will leave the course with increased skills in the following areas:  

  1. Group work with clients who live with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.
  2. Cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral approaches to group work across settings and client populations.
  3. Mindfulness and stress-based reduction with children, adolescents and adults who have anxiety disorders.
  4. Conflict related to diversity in groups, and the importance of multi-culturally competent practice.
  5. Group work supervision and consultation:  How to create a meaningful, safe and sustainable learning community through supervision and/or consultation.  

Participants will develop and hone the following competencies:

  • Group work with at-risk and diverse client populations.
  • Facilitation of open-ended group, short-term and time sensitive groups with  particular attention paid to group purpose, planning, group composition, member recruitment strategies, and contracting.
  • Use of formal and innovative curricula, as well as activities and expressive modalities as vehicles for enhancing self-expression and communications skills.  
  • Review of key concepts and best practices for use in CBT and DBT groups.
  • Definition and philosophical underpinnings of MSBR (Mindfulness and Stress Based Reduction) and the evolution of MSBR as a distinct practice approach.
  • Review of critical skills and best practices for use of MSBR across the lifespan.
  • Participants will learn how to conceptualize conflict as a normative and predictable dynamic, and to encourage careful resolution of conflict in ways that support group members' collective strengths, abilities, and wisdom.
  • Conflict rooted in diversity will be defined, and the worker's role and use of self in surfacing and addressing conflict rooted in diversity will be explored.
  • The Art of Co-facilitation:  nurturing and addressing the challenges of partnership.
  • Group work supervision as a necessary vehicle for ensuring quality of care, managing countertransference, accountability to clients and agency, advancing agency mission and objectives, and combating compassion fatigue.

Experiential Learning: Objectives and Competencies

Learning through action and reflection is the cornerstone of this clinical certificate program. Participants will have ample opportunities to put into practice concepts and skills. This will occur through role plays and during the in-class experiential component of the course.


Ariel A. Botta, LICSW.  Director of Group Therapy, Outpatient Department of Psychiatry, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.  Lecturer, Simmons College School of Social Work.  Lecturer, Boston University Graduate School of Social Work. Current member, and past member of the Board of Trustees of the MA Chapter, Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.  Certified Yoga Instructor.  

Dana Grossman Leeman, PhD., MSW.  Coordinator of the Post-Masters Certificate in Advanced Group Work Practice.  Associate Professor of Practice, Simmons College School of Social Work, Boston, MA.  Co-Chair of Symposia for the International Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.  Member of the Board of Trustees of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups, MA Chapter, Consulting Editor, Social Work with Groups.  

Jennifer, M. Putney, LICSW, PH.D.  Associate Professor of Practice, Simmons College School, Boston, MA.  Coordinator of the Clinical Specialization in Mental Health and Addictions at Simmons College School of Social Work.  

Patty Underwood, LICSW.  Adjunct Instructor, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA.  Clinician, Riverside Community Care, Newton, MA.  President of the MA Chapter of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.

Format and Schedule:
Classes meet Thursdays evenings, 6-9 p.m.
Classes begin on January 29th and run through May 7th.

Tuition: $995  ($400 for current Simmons School of Social Work Field Instructors)

Payment must accompany application. Please click here to apply and pay online. (Note: Applicants are required to submit two professional references, a current CV, and a letter of intent detailing the applicant's interest in the course.)

If you have any questions, or if you are interested in the program, please contact the course coordinator by writing to Dana Grossman Leeman at or calling 617.521.3955

Post-Masters Clinical Certificate Program in The Relational and Multi-Contextual Treatment of Trauma 2014-2015. Click Here for Course Description and Registration.

This certificate program is designed for professionals in urban settings, hospitals, community agencies,and private practices who are committed to understanding the impact of trauma on the attachment relationships, brain development, and present behaviours of children, adolescents and adults.

The treatment of psychological trauma is among the greatest challenges that mental health, social service, forensic and other helping professionals face today. It calls on professionals to integrate within their practices contemporary research and treatment approaches that reduce clients' post-traumatic anxiety and behaviour and support their strengths to resume paths of developmental competence.

The program examines somatic and neurobiological changes that accompany overwhelming psychological trauma and their resulting impact on development, memory and attachment in both children and adults. It presents culturally sensitive models of assessment and treatment grounded in a commitment to phase-oriented trauma treatment and to evidence-based assumptions that individuals, groups and communities grow and change when their strengths are nurtured within containing attachment relationships.

From a variety of perspectives instructors discuss the normal experiences of vicarious trauma and strategies of self-care,which promote safety and affect regulations for professionals and ultimately for their clients.

The curriculum includes an exploration of:

  • Strengths based treatment of traumatic experiences of racism
  • Skills in assessment of trauma in children and adults
  • Strategies of working with domestic and community violence
  • The impact of traumatic losses on children and families
  • Treating complex post-traumatic-stress-disorder and dissociation
  • Promoting resilience in immigrants, refugees, and other trauma survivors
  • Mind/body techniques to build internal resources of comfort
  • Understanding and treatment of substance abuse and other addictions


Kevin Creeden, MA, LMHC; director of assessment and research, Whitney Academy; national consultant and trainer in child trauma treatment

Mary Gilfus, Ph.D, Professor, Simmons College SSW

Hugo Kamya Ph.D. Associate professor, Simmons College SSW, faculty, Cambridge Family Institute

Johnnie Hamilton-Mason PhD. Professor, Simmons College School of Social Work

Candace Saunders, LICSW; clinical instructor and coordinator of trauma certificate programs, Simmons College SSW; private practice, Newton.

Linda Yael Schiller, LICSW; private supervision and psychotherapy practice, Watertown

Mimi Thein, MD; attending psychiatrist, Children's Hospital, Boston; instructor in psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Tien Ung, PhD., Assistant Professor, Director of the Urban Leadership Program, Simmons School of Social Work

This program is approved for 75 CEs for social workers.

Format and Schedule:
Classes meet Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m. and two Saturdays.
Classes begin on October 1, 2014 and will end on May 6, 2015.
Master's degree in human services required.
Application deadline: August 21, 2014 (Class size is limited and may fill before application deadline.)

Tuition: $1900; Simmons SSW Field Instructors: $1400

Payment must accompany application. Please click here to apply and pay online (Note: You will need to send in additional materials, which are detailed on the application/payment page, for your application to be considered complete.)

If you have any questions please contact the course coordinator by writing to or calling 617-521-3958.

Simmons School of Social Work Professional Development Institute

Confirmation, Cancellation and Refund Policy

Registration will be acknowledged via email. A program that has insufficient enrolment will be cancelled one week in advance. You will be notified if the program is cancelled and receive a full refund.

In the event you must cancel your registration, you will receive a full refund if you cancel at least ten days prior to the beginning of a program; if you cancel within ten days prior to the beginning of a program, you will receive a credit for the full tuition. Participants who withdraw from the program after it starts will receive a credit proportional to the number of weeks they attended the program; the maximum credit for withdrawal is 75% of the full tuition. A $100 administrative fee will be deducted from all refunds and credits.


If you have any questions or comments about our professional education programs, please contact the Professional Development Institute  by calling 617-521-3903.

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Cancellations and Other Policies

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