Social Workers and Balance: Professional Skill Development, Self-Care and Resiliency | COHORT 2

March 2021-March 2022

Are you interested in continuing your personal growth to become an even more successful change agent, while increasing your confidence in your micro, mezzo or clinical practice?  

Would you like to be more in control of your personal use of self, a skill that is critical for cultural competency and relating to clients, stakeholders and colleagues? 

Would you like to address ways to increase your satisfaction at work?  

The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work is proud to announce the second cohort of the Social Workers and Balance: Professional Skill Development, Self-Care and Resiliency group. This 13-month program (August hiatus) is designed to help alumni develop the tools and skills needed to become healthier by cultivating effective self-care and self-compassion tools, to become more productive micro, mezzo and macro practitioners so that they can improve the quality of care provided to their clients and the organizations and communities they serve.

Sponsored by generous alumna, Mary Mader, MSW ’92, this supportive, educational and interactive group designed exclusively for our alumni explores and addresses elements that impact your practice such as compassion fatigue, burn-out, vicarious trauma and professional stressors. You will learn to identify symptoms of compassion fatigue, including exhaustion, frustration, anger and depression, as well as negative feelings driven by fear and work-related trauma. Balance, skill development, self-care and resiliency will be themes. The topics of working with challenging client problems, contributing factors in the workplace, grief, trauma and countertransference will also be addressed. The primary goal is to enhance compassion satisfaction for social workers so that you are more satisfied with doing the work of caring. 

Cohort 2 begins in March 2021 and the group will meet twice a month for 13 months (August hiatus) virtually over Zoom.  Each meeting will last 90 minutes and will include an additional 30 minutes of homework between sessions. You will receive the required texts for the group at no cost. The group facilitators will provide office hours between sessions to answer additional questions and offer further support and resources as needed. Participants will receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the program. Although personal and professional losses, trauma, stressors and challenges will be identified and explored, this is not a therapy group. If needed, referral information for therapeutic services will be made available to the participants.

**Participants who have registered as Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW) in the state of California and have supervision may receive 48 “Non-Clinical” hours that will count towards their licensure requirements once approved by their clinical supervisors. 

***Participants who are registered Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors in the state of California will be offered up to 48 Continuing Education Units. 

****The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work offers accredited programs in social work and  is an approved provider of social work CEUs in California. License holders from other disciplines and jurisdictions should consult their licensing body about our program's eligibility for your licensure renewal.

The program will be facilitated Minerva Ruiz, MSW ‘10, LCSW who returns for her second year co-facilitating the group and will be joined this year by Nandini Narayanan, MSW ’98, LCSW, Mindfulness Teacher, C-IAYT, RYT-500 Reiki.

Who is the ideal candidate for this program?

USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work alumni practitioners:

  • Alumni of the School (including micro, mezzo and macro practitioners) and who would like to better understand how compassion fatigue, burnout, vicarious trauma and professional stressors might be affecting their practice.
  • With a capacity for self-reflection and desire to participate in exercises designed for in-depth personal exploration.
  • Seeking to better understand themselves so they can better support their clients, organizations and communities.  
  • With a willingness to commit to attending twice a month meetings over the course of 13 months which will include active group participation and completion of homework between sessions.


Participants will be able to:

  1. Define compassion fatigue, compassion satisfaction and vicarious trauma.
  2. Identify two of the symptoms of compassion fatigue.
  3. Identify three coping strategies for managing compassion fatigue.
  4. Discuss the key factors of the ethical and legal responsibility for self-care.
  5. Increase their knowledge and skill for working with trauma and grief.
  6. Explore transference and counter-transference that may arise when exposed to diverse client, mezzo and macro-related interventions and supervisory roles.
  7. Identify two types of complicated grief responses.
  8. Create a Life Balance Circle, a vison board and a professional/personal strategic plan.
  9. Learn and practice three relaxation and stress reduction techniques.
  10. Demonstrate the ability to use body awareness strategies for empathy arousal regulation.
  11. Effectively utilize professional judgment, critical thinking, knowledge of social work values and self-awareness to enhance professional engagement and support.
  12. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping one's own and others' life experiences.

Application Process

To apply for this program, please provide the following:

  1. Complete the application form here which includes answering general and short essay questions designed to measure program fit.    
  2. Ask for one professional reference to complete this form recommending you to participate in the program. Your reference can be a professor or current/former supervisor. 
  3. Please provide your reference with this information sheet for additional context on the program.
  4. Application Deadline: January 15, 2021. We anticipate high demand for this course and will be conducting interviews in February 2021 to finalize Cohort 2. 

Program Dates (must commit to the entire program)

March 2, 2021
March 16, 2021
April 6, 2021
April 20, 2021
May 4, 2021
May 18, 2021
June 1, 2021
June 15, 2021
July 6, 2021
July 20, 2021
August Hiatus
September 7, 2021
September 21, 2021
October 5, 2021
October 19, 2021
November 2, 2021
November 16, 2021
December 7, 2021
December 21, 2021
January 4, 2022
January 18, 2022
February 1, 2022
February 15, 2022
March 1, 2022
March 15, 2022



Minerva Ruiz, MSW ’10, LCSW
Minerva Ruiz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 9 years of experience combining direct clinical care and management responsibilities. Minerva is making a volunteer commitment to co-facilitate this program because she wants to help newer social workers identify the “warning” signs of compassion fatigue and burnout, as well as share her passion and knowledge to help them develop healthy coping skills and, ultimately, more effective treatment.

Minerva received her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California in the health concentration. She also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from California State University, Los Angeles. Minerva’s professional career includes working with older adults and caregivers in the non-profit setting. Minerva has worked for SCAN Health Plan providing direct care management for clients, including initial psychosocial assessments, linkage to community services and resources, caregiver support, and crisis intervention. She currently supervises the Multi Senior Service program at SCAN Independence at Home, where she serves as an advocate for the needs of her clients through the facilitation of case conference meetings, as well as the management and advising of care management staff. Additionally, she has done contract work for Alcala Care Management Services focusing on connecting individuals with needed resources and she has also served as a member of the Long Beach Hoarding Task Force. Minerva has been a guest lecturer at East Los Angeles College, St. Mary’s University and UCLA where she has focused on issues affecting the older adult population. Minerva also served on the Alumni Leadership Council for the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

Nandini Narayanan, MSW ’98, LCSW, Mindfulness Teacher, C-IAYT, RYT-500 Reiki.

Nandini has been firmly rooted in the field of psychological, spiritual and physical health as a licensed clinical social worker trained in oncology social work for the past twenty years. At USC she chose health concentration to interweave her undergraduate study in Biological Sciences from UCI. Within cancer centers, neonatology intensive care units (NICU), psychotherapy sessions, mindfulness and yoga classes, Nandini shares Eastern based integrative practices to promote health and healing for healthcare providers, patients and their families, helping to shape the healthcare model for integrative and preventative healthcare.
Nandini’s dedication to yoga, mindfulness and meditation is grounded in years of study with her teachers Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach and beloved BIPOC mentors Leslie Booker, Kate Johnson, Solwazi Johnson, La Sarmiento and Sebene Selassie.  She knows personally that Yoga’s philosophy of harmony and integration has made her a more balanced person, healthcare practitioner, and also an empowered, resilient mother to her son born as a “micro-preemie” with a 50% chance of survival. Nandini dedicates and credits her son for the inspiration to teach.
The self-compassion and practical skills Nandini has been teaching her patients have been earnestly cultivated and put to the test in her own life to sustain, enhance life and health even in the face of death or impermanence. She is honored to teach and learn simultaneously with the aspiration to build a more compassionate and just world one community, one group, one breath at a time.

Please contact Amanda Decker, Sr. Development Officer, Constituent Relations and Advancement Operations at