Lecturing Abroad: Social Work Faculty Discuss Childhood Trauma in China


Dr. Wesley Church, director of the School of Social Work (SSW), and Dr. Timothy Page, the Betty J. Stewart Professor of Social Work, visited Chengdu, China, from May 14- May 23, 2016 to study the development of the Chinese social work profession, meet Chinese social work practitioners and academicians, and visit two universities and dozens of establishments such as public accommodations, sites of cultural importance, and residential areas.

Drs. Page and Church traveled with alumna Dr. Xian Guan, who is now an associate professor at the School of Social Work at Southwestern University of Finance & Economics in Chengdu. Guan also works with the Chengdu Center for Social Work Development & Research.

“We were able to observe first-hand the fascinating development of the profession of social work in China,” Dr. Page said. “Chengdu, like all major cities in China in the past several years, has been undergoing rapid growth, as consumer markets have opened up and people have left rural areas in search of employment in the cities.”

Much of the underdeveloped social welfare in China, specifically the Sichuan Province where Chengdu is located, is due to the earthquake of 2008. Many basic needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and mental health services, were exposed by the tragedy, thus the social work profession in China has risen.

“There are now what appears to be legions of young professionals dedicated to the social services of vulnerable people,” Page said, adding that the Chinese social workers he and Dr. Church met on the trip are turning to the West, particularly the U.S., for resources in training to further their profession.

Drs. Page and Church met with faculty at Southwestern and Xihua Universities and toured several social service agencies. Page said the most memorable part of the trip was the privilege of lecturing at Southwestern and Xihua, as well as at a local social service agency. He gave three lectures to approximately 200 students, faculty, and social work practitioners. The lectures focused on post-traumatic stress in children and disaster response, and the use of narrative assessments with young children to evaluate their emotional security.

“The questions and conversations that ensued were remarkable for their concern, curiosity, and interest in the provision of social services to children,” Dr. Page said. “I met many energetic and dedicated young social workers who have committed themselves to improving the lives of vulnerable children and families in China.”

Dr. Page is looking forward to future collaboration with social workers in Chengdu. He has already sent many requested materials to social workers who attended his lectures in Chengdu.

 “The unmistakable impression this all left me with is that there is a new China in the making,” Dr. Page said. “All our old ideas about communist sheep following their aging leaders need to be thrown out the proverbial window. The new China now taking shape is a consumer society that wants, and expects, responsive and responsible government, and social justice for oppressed people.”

About SSW
The LSU School of Social Work (SSW) aspires to be a leading graduate school of social work, a vibrant center of intellectual development, a leader in promoting and supporting diverse communities, and an advocate for an integrated and inclusive model of social work, all within a learning environment that supports best educational practices. The Child and Family Studies (CFS) undergraduate degree integrates theory, research, and practice to focus on child development and family dynamics.

Visit the School of Social Work at socialwork.lsu.edu

About CHSE

The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The College is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Leadership and Human Resource Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 977 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs.

Visit the College of Human Sciences & Education at chse.lsu.edu.