Life After Hate provides social work case management, a formal process of coordinating care across multiple services, by masters-level social workers. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), social work case management is “(a) process to plan, seek, advocate for, and monitor services from different social services or health care organizations and staff on behalf of a client.” It is a person-centered approach to assessing needs, collaboratively developing and implementing an individualized service plan that will address those needs. All case managers at Life After Hate adhere to established practice standards and the NASW code of ethics to guide practice and ethical decision-making.
Social workers at Life After Hate establish working relationships with individuals who are or were involved in violent extremism. They assess each individual’s needs and their unique barriers to disengagement, deradicalization, and reintegration. These include:
- Reason for seeking services from Life After Hate
- Safety concerns (e.g. suicidal ideation, violence ideation, intimate partner violence, etc)
- Basic needs (e.g. food, shelter)
- Medical needs
- Mental health needs
- Substance abuse treatment needs
- Interpersonal functioning
- Educational and/or occupational functioning
- Legal involvement
- Well-being (e.g. hobbies, what gives them a sense of fulfillment).
- Nature and extent of ideological, behavioral, and social network involvement in violent extremism
- Motivation to change
The social worker and client work collaboratively to establish and prioritize goals, identify necessary referrals to local community resources, and work together to implement the plan. The social worker secures releases of information, provides one-on-one support to facilitate the client’s access to these services, coordinates services and providers, monitors progress, and updates the plan as needed. For one client this may mean identifying and facilitating a referral to a local licensed mental health provider, supporting a client’s identification and access to a supportive religious community, and locating workforce development supports to facilitate occupational functioning. For another client this means facilitating access to unemployment benefits and health care coverage, and referrals to substance abuse treatment providers. Many clients will also request a referral to a peer mentor, a former violent extremist, who works with the client and social worker to promote disengagement from violent extremist social networks, cessation of violent extremist behaviors, and the challenge and change of violence-justifying beliefs.
One of the most common referrals made and coordinated by the social workers at Life After Hate is to a professional who provides mental health services. People are often confused about the difference between case management and mental health services as some social workers also provide counseling. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), mental health services involve “assessment, diagnosis, treatment or counseling.” Life After Hate refers clients to professionals who are licensed to practice independently in the client’s state of residence, including Licensed Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), LICSW, Licensed Independent Social Workers (LICSW), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), and psychiatrists. Mental health services are recommended to Life After Hate clients to treat existing psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma-related conditions, as these conditions may be a barrier to successful disengagement from violent extremism or reintegration into civil society.
The coordination of necessary care is only one part of what makes the role of social workers so important in our work at Life After Hate. The highly trained and deeply committed social workers, working alongside peer mentors (Formers), are often the only prosocial relationships in a client’s life during their early journey out of violent extremism. They provide support, challenge unhealthy behaviors, and hold our clients accountable to a higher standard of conduct. They provide education and skills training on specialized topics relevant to our clients to improve their general life skills to facilitate reintegration into society. Importantly, they are at the forefront of our consistent monitoring and management of risk and threat in our clients. Social work case management is one important service provided at Life After Hate and social workers are essential members of our multidisciplinary team working with individuals who are or were involved in violent extremism and are seeking to change their lives.