Professional Development Institute

Simmons School of Social Work is a leader in providing professional continuing education for social workers. We offer Category I Continuing Education credits to social workers.

The Simmons School of Social Work is a pioneer in clinical social work education having trained clinical social workers for over a century. Today, the Simmons School of Social Work continues to offer exceptional training in clinical social work for women and men, including high quality professional development programs that focus on the learning and practice needs of mental health practitioners from many disciplines. These programs help mental health professional to upgrade and fine tune their on-the-job skills allowing them to stay on top of their careers.

Our professional development programs reflect the mission of the School of Social Work — providing exceptional postgraduate preparation with an emphasis on intellectual exploration, skill-building and networking. We employ contemporary adult learning theory in our programs, encouraging participants to actively participate in their own learning through lectures, discussions, evidence-based practice techniques, and case consultations.

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This certificate program is designed for professionals with a Masters degree in Social Work who are facilitating groups in diverse settings such as community agencies, hospitals, residential settings, school-based settings, and with children, youth and families.  

As more agencies shift from individual to group focused treatment and increase their group services in order to better meet the needs of their clients, or out of fiscal necessity, practitioners are faced with the challenge of offering an expanded menu of groups, including more specialized groups. This certificate program will strengthen the skills that clinicians are already utilizing, while providing a more varied and sophisticated conceptual framework and tools with which to practice.

Curriculum Overview and Competencies:

The course will be taught by a team of experienced group workers, each with a distinct area of expertise and with knowledge of best practices and cutting edge techniques. Course content will be delivered in five learning modules.  Participants will leave the course with increased skills in the following areas:  

  1. Group work with clients who live with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders.

  2. Cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral approaches to group work across settings and client populations.

  3. Mindfulness and stress-based reduction with children, adolescents and adults who have anxiety disorders.

  4. Conflict related to diversity in groups, and the importance of multi-culturally competent practice.

  5. Group work supervision and consultation:  How to create a meaningful, safe and sustainable learning community through supervision and/or consultation.  

Participants will develop and hone the following competencies:

  •  Group work with at-risk and diverse client populations.
  •  Facilitation of open-ended group, short-term and time sensitive groups with  particular attention paid to group purpose, planning, group composition, member recruitment strategies, and contracting.
  •  Use of formal and innovative curricula, as well as activities and expressive modalities as vehicles for enhancing self-expression and communications skills.
  •  Review of key concepts and best practices for use in CBT and DBT groups.
  •  Definition and philosophical underpinnings of MSBR (Mindfulness and Stress Based Reduction) and the evolution of MSBR as a distinct practice approach.
  •  Review of critical skills and best practices for use of MSBR across the lifespan.
  •  Participants will learn how to conceptualize conflict as a normative and predictable dynamic, and to encourage careful resolution of conflict in ways that support group members' collective strengths, abilities, and wisdom.
  •  Conflict rooted in diversity will be defined, and the worker's role and use of self in surfacing and addressing conflict rooted in diversity will be explored.
  •  The Art of Co-facilitation:  nurturing and addressing the challenges of partnership.
  •  Group work supervision as a necessary vehicle for ensuring quality of care, managing countertransference, accountability to clients and agency, advancing agency mission and objectives, and combating compassion fatigue.

Experiential Learning: Objectives and Competencies

Learning through action and reflection is the cornerstone of this clinical certificate program. Participants will have ample opportunities to put into practice concepts and skills. This will occur through role plays and during the in-class experiential component of the course.


Ariel A. Botta, LICSW.  Director of Group Therapy, Outpatient Department of Psychiatry, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.  Lecturer, Simmons School of Social Work.  Lecturer, Boston University Graduate School of Social Work. Current member, and past member of the Board of Trustees of the MA Chapter, Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.  Certified Yoga Instructor.  

Dana Grossman Leeman, PhD., MSW.  Coordinator of the Post-Masters Certificate in Advanced Group Work Practice.  Associate Professor of Practice, Simmons School of Social Work, Boston, MA.  Co-Chair of Symposia for the International Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.  Member of the Board of Trustees of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups, MA Chapter, Consulting Editor, Social Work with Groups.  

Jennifer, M. Putney, LICSW, PH.D.  Associate Professor of Practice, Simmons School of Social Work, Boston, MA.  Coordinator of the Clinical Specialization in Mental Health and Addictions at Simmons School of Social Work.  

Patty Underwood, LICSW.  Adjunct Instructor, Boston University School of Social Work, Boston, MA.  Clinician, Riverside Community Care, Newton, MA.  President of the MA Chapter of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.

Tuition: $995  ($400 for current Simmons School of Social Work Field Instructors)

If you have any questions, or if you are interested in the program, please contact the course coordinator by emailing Dana Grossman Leeman or calling 617.521.3955

CE Information

CEs will be available to each professional education participant. To be eligible for CEs, participants must be present for any workshop in its entirety. Participants are required to sign in and sign out. Certificate program participants may miss up to two class sessions, but will be required to make up any missed session by completing an alternative assignment. CE certificates will be issued by the instructor at the conclusion of each workshop or program.

Confirmations, Cancellations, Refunds

Notification of acceptance to the program and registration will be acknowledged via e-mail. A program that has insufficient enrollment will be canceled one week in advance. You will be notified if the program is canceled and receive a full refund.

In the event you must cancel your registration, you will receive a refund if you cancel at least ten days prior to the beginning of a program. If you cancel within ten days prior to the beginning of a program, you will receive a credit for the full tuition.

Participants who withdraw from certificate programs after they start will receive a credit proportional to the number of weeks they attended the program; the maximum credit for withdrawal is 75% of the full tuition. A $100 administrative fee with be deducted from all refunds and credits.


The cost for each workshop and certificate program is listed with each program. Payment in full must accompany your registration. Payment may be made by check, money order or credit card.