New Book on "Art and Soul" of Social Work Authored by UW-River Falls Faculty Member

September 6, 2013— Ogden W. Rogers, professor and chair of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Department of Social Work, has written a collection of essays, poems, and other writings about life in social work and about life in general. It is called "Beginnings, Middles, & Ends: Sideways Stories on the Art & Soul of Social Work." 

According to the publisher, White Hat Communications, "A sideways story is some moment in life when you thought you were doing one thing, but you ended up learning another. A sideways story can also be a poem, or prose, that, because of the way it is written, may not be all that direct in its meaning. What's nice about both clouds, and art, is that you can look at them and just resonate. That can be good for both the heart and the mind." 

Rogers has practiced social work in mental health, emergency rooms, crisis intervention, and other settings and is a long-time social work educator and international consultant.  His knack for storytelling is evident to his students and colleagues alike. 

Many of the moments of the book grew from experiences Rogers has had or from stories he used in his lectures with students or told in his office with clients. Some of them have grown from essays written for others, for personal or professional reasons. They are moments on a path through the discovery of social work, a journey of beginnings, middles, and ends.   

With just the right blend of humor and candor, each of these stories contains nuggets of wisdom that will not be found in a traditional textbook. They capture the essence and the art and soul of social work. "If they provoke a smile, or a tear, or a critical question, it's worth it," Rogers said. 

Students of social work, as future helping professionals, learn the newest theories and practice techniques. But new and seasoned social workers alike know it is not a strictly technical profession. Social workers need to think critically to know which theory or which technique to use with a client, or to develop their own interventions that will work. This is where the art and soul—the things that cannot be easily defined or described—come into play. 

In Ogden Rogers' case, the "art and soul" of social work might be figuring out a way to get around a rule by using a tool from occupational therapy, or "prescribing" a telephone book instead of psychotropic medications.  

The book of 99 stories reads easily, and Rogers tells tales that operate at many levels, according to the publisher. The stories exemplify role modeling and transformational learning theories, and readers are encouraged to reflect and consider their own thoughts and reactions to each piece. It is written in an easy, non-linear style that is filled with wit, wisdom, and drama. In many ways, it is a book that looks at social work from the inside out, and seeks to provide the reader with opportunities for validation, surprise, critique, and reading enjoyment, the publisher said. 

A publication release reception will be held in the UWRF Falcon Shop, located in the University Center, on Wednesday, Oct. 16, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. 

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