Masters of Social Work Students to present research at annual Colloquium Event

While the school year is coming to a close, students who are working towards their master’s degree from the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work are presenting their research on May 7. Lariat File Photo.

By Adrienne Redman | Reporter

Baylor students pursuing a master’s degree from the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work are ramping up to present research projects at the annual Masters of Social Work (MSW) Colloquium on May 7.

The MSW Colloquium event gives students a chance to present research that many have been conducting for almost a year. Topics range from current social work practices to innovative looks at treatment and diagnosis.

Students prepare for these presentations through a week-long capstone course, which begins next week. Frisco graduate student Sarah Pitman said the time will be spent polishing their projects.

“We’ll meet for four hours a day every day and we’ll take turns presenting our research projects kind of as a practice round to our colleagues,” Pitman said. “We’ll get critiques and make it better.”

Pitman began her research last summer after working with a group of adult trauma survivors.

“I had heard a lot of their stories and that’s kind of what got me interested in it,” Pitman said. “It took a long time to kind of formulate the right questions and get a good perspective on it.”

Her presentation centers on childhood trauma and the need for broader Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnoses. With the help of a colleague’s own private practice in Waco, Pitman gathered data and identified patterns that led to the findings she will present at the colloquium event.

“From my experience, a lot of clients who have experienced expansive childhood trauma are missing PTSD diagnoses so I kind looked into that and found an unofficial Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis,” Pitman said. “But because it’s not an official diagnosis … a lot of people aren’t getting the kind of treatment that they need.”

Pitman said she hopes that her research will promote better treatment practices and expand support for trauma survivors.

“Having the correct diagnoses is a lot of the battle with that,” Pitman said.

The capstone course is graded, but according to Baton Rouge, La., graduate student Rosemary Watson, professors typically do not grade too harshly.

“You’re set up for success considering you’re working on it for the whole semester,” Watson said.

According to Watson, colloquium also serves as an opportunity for licensed social workers in the Waco area to gain Continuing Education Credits, or CEU’s, that they need to maintain their licenses.

“People even from outside of the Waco area will come and try to get credits for colloquium just by sitting and listening to your lecture,” Watson said.

Watson’s research focuses on “how resilience can be developed and utilized in social workers to prevent burnout.” According to Watson, each presentation is about 45 minutes in length, with some time allotted for questions and answers.

“Honestly, all the presentations are just so cool and I’m excited to go to several,” Watson said.

Having the capstone course as a sort of “practice round” makes for a more professional presentation, according to Pitman, which is important for creating the best experience for guests looking to expand their professional practice.

Colloquium begins at 8 a.m. on May 7 in Foster Campus for Business and Innovation and is open to the public. Those interested in attending can register online on the Baylor School of Social Work website.