Look Back to Move Ahead: Social Work for Survivors of Trauma
by Carol Tosone
Two vignettes portray social work students working with clients affected by trauma and learning from their supervisors how to approach the sensitive material these clients present.
Working with clients impacted by trauma can be overwhelming for new social work students. Look Back to Move Ahead presents two vignettes which focus on interns new to the treatment of trauma. The video follows their experiences meeting new clients, hearing their difficult stories, and working with supervisors for guidance in handling these sensitive cases.

The first vignette shows the initial session between Nicole, a Caucasian second-year social work student, and Diane Johns, an African-American survivor of Hurricane Katrina. Diane is experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and shares her frightening memories of the storm with Nicole. She also makes allusions to the racial difference between them, leaving Nicole uneasy and with many questions. The video then shows Nicole meeting with her supervisor to address not only ways to help trauma survivors like Diane, but also how to handle sensitively work with racial differences between a client and a counselor.

The second vignette features two meetings between social work student Rasheen and her new client, Caroline. Caroline is a college student who seeks help from her school's counseling center where Rasheen is placed. She tells Rasheen that she is uncomfortable in her new relationship because of disturbing memories she has of her stepfather sexually abusing her. These clips show Rasheen's discomfort with such serious information, and the many questions she has for her supervisor. Rasheen's supervisor helps her understand several important facts about trauma treatment, including the unique way traumatic memories are processed and the prevalence of negative coping skills among trauma survivors. Rasheen uses her supervisor's insights to approach her next session with Caroline more confidently.


Look Back to Move Ahead is wrapped up by the two featured supervisors, Dr. Tosone and Dr. Figley, who discuss key points in the treatment of trauma and how this work affects social work students. Finally, the video summarizes ten key points to keep in mind when working with survivors of trauma, including the need for a client's experience to be validated and the importance of self-care for the clinician.
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If you are interested in working with trauma survivors but you're unsure if you're prepared to do so, you'll find this video very helpful. It presents these sometimes overwhelming cases from the perspective of nervous novice clinicians, whose reactions and questions are very relatable. Their supervisors provide great insights to bring into your own practice. And the teaching points listed are a tremendous help to anyone about to begin work with trauma survivors.

From watching this video, you will:
  • Watch two case examples involving trauma and develop ideas to approach new clients when they share delicate material.
  • Gain a better understanding of transference and countertransference in trauma cases and learn how to handle these feelings with clients.
  • Learn ten key points to keep in mind when working with survivors of trauma.

Length of video: 00:57:42

Number of Discs: 0

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-491-6

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-491-8

Dr. Carol Tosone is an associate professor of social work and recipient of the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Tosone, who joined the NYU Silver School of Social Work faculty in 1993, is a Distinguished Scholar in Social Work in the National Academies of Practice in Washington, DC. Dr. Tosone was selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award for teaching and research at the Hanoi University of Education in Vietnam. She also taught as Distinguished Visiting Lydia Rappaport Professor at Smith College for Social Work. Dr. Tosone received her certification in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy from the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, where she was the recipient of the Postgraduate Memorial Award.

Prior to her appointment at NYU, Dr. Tosone was an assistant professor of social work in psychiatry at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. She is editor-in-chief of the Clinical Social Work Journal and serves on the editorial boards of Social Work in Mental Health, Social Work in Health Care, Psychoanalytic Social Work, Psychoanalytic Perspectives, Smith College Studies in Social Work, and the online journal Beyond the Couch. She also serves as a consulting reviewer to numerous other psychotherapy journals and publishers.

Dr. Tosone is series editor for Essential Clinical Social Work Series published by Springer; co-editor of three books, Love and Attachment: Contemporary Issues and Treatment Considerations, Short-term Treatment, Doing More with Less: Using Long-term Skills in Short-Term Treatment, and Contemporary Clinical Practice: The Holding Environment Under Assault; and author of numerous professional articles and book chapters. She has also served as the executive producer, writer, and narrator of educational and community service media, including Why Am I Here?: Engaging the Reluctant Client; Feel Free to Feel Better: FEMA Trauma Training; Rewarding Challenges: Social Work with Older Adults; The Greying Elephant in the Room: Substance Abuse and Older Adults; Look Back to Move Ahead; Look Back to Move Ahead: Social Work with Survivors of Trauma; and No Periods, Only Commas: A Portrait of Tiffany.

Dr. Tosone has been quoted or cited in the New York Times, as well as other newspapers and magazines as an expert on trauma and women’s issues. Dr. Tosone has served as a visiting professor or guest lecturer at several international universities, including Hyllum University in South Korea, Sanata Dhara University in Java, Tonjgi University in Shanghai, and Peking University and China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Dr. Tosone’s primary research interest is clinician exposure to collective trauma. She has served as a consultant to Psychology Beyond Borders in Indonesia; a member of the Doctors without Borders Hurricane Sandy Mental Health Response Team; and as a consultant to UNICEF and the Afghanistan Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs, and Disabled in the development of National Occupational Skills Standards for Social Work. Since joining the NYU faculty, Dr. Tosone has delivered over 100 professional papers and presentations in academic, medical, and mental health settings in the United States, as well as international venues in Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. 

CE credits: 1

Learning Objectives:

  • Watch two case examples involving trauma and develop ideas to approach new clients when they share delicate material.
  • Gain a better understanding of transference and countertransference in trauma cases and learn how to handle these feelings with clients.
  • Learn ten key points to keep in mind when working with survivors of trauma.
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