Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work Film Club presents Clinical Work with Ordinary People Experiencing Extraordinary Loss

Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work Film Club


Clinical Work with Ordinary People Experiencing Extraordinary Loss

Film: “Ordinary People” (1980)
Presenters:  Fran Gerstein, LCSW, BCD, Kathleen Kaib, MSS, MLSP, LCSW and Scott Cohen, MSW, LCSW
Date:  Sunday, August 16th, 2020
Time:  1:00pm-3:00 pm  3 Clinical Credits
Location: Zoom
Clinical Title: Clinical Work with Ordinary People Experiencing Extraordinary Loss.

Description:  At the start of ''Ordinary People,'' Conrad Jarrett has been home from the psychiatric hospital for just a month and is trying very hard to resume life, school, the swimming team, the glee club, as if five months earlier he hadn't attempted suicide by slashing his wrists. He is not doing well.  Conrad is nervous and he's too quick to say whatever he knows his mother and father want to hear.

The Jarretts are engaged in an elaborate counterfeit of normalcy. Beth goes about her daily routine of golf, tennis, bridge and committee meetings with the urgency of someone laboriously going through the motions not of a woman living a fulfilling suburban life.  Calvin throws himself into his work until he realizes that he is losing his family. More than five months after the suicide attempt, Conrad is in even worse shape than before. 

What unfolds in this story of traumatic loss and evolving family connections provides a unique template for the discussion of family systems, models of grief and healing, and establishing therapeutic connection with those left behind.

Please note: Because of technology challenges we are requesting that people watch the film prior to the discussion.  You can rent it on amazon at the link below.

Link to Film:

Rationale for Presentation:
Social Workers are often called to work with grieving families. When a family member dies it thrusts the family into an emotional process that is difficult for families to navigate. Because each relationship is unique, each individual's grieving process is unique. Families confronted by the loss of a child or sibling are engaged in a dual process of grieving:  they mourn the loss of the child (and the potential child that they hold in their fantasies), but they also lose a sense of secure identity in a world of random, unexpected and often devastating personal tragedy.  

Clinical Objectives:
By watching this movie and participating in the discussion, participants will be able to:

  1. Analyze family responses to traumatic loss from the perspective of family systems theory. 
  2. Identify phases of grief portrayed by the Jarretts and compare them to generally accepted models of grief and mourning. 
  3. Define the tasks of therapeutic engagement with resistant clients and critique the movie’s illustration of this process.

About the Presenters: 

Fran Gerstein, LCSW, BCD has been in private practice for over 30 years. She has served as adjunct faculty for the University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Jefferson University.  She is a frequent lecturer on topics including family therapy, couple’s work, eating disorders, and grief and loss.

Kathleen Kaib earned her MSS and MLSP from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. For the past 17 years Kathleen worked with people on death row and their families. She worked as mitigation specialist where she counseled inmates and created a narrative of their life to present to the court for sentencing phase relief. This entailed investigating and uncovering childhood trauma as well as their struggles they had in adulthood. Kathleen worked to help clients and their families find their  strengths despite their adversities. She left that position in February 2020 and started working at CHOP as a bereavement therapist where she provides counseling for parents who experienced the death of a child. 

Scott Cohen, MSW, LCSW is a psychotherapist with Crozer Keystone Health System’s Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic specializing in work with teens, young adults and families negotiating life transitions, complex trauma and traumatic grief, LGBTQI affirmation and severe anxiety and depression.  He has been trained in intensive and brief psychodynamic psychotherapies, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness approaches, pain management and positive psychology.  Scott also works with Family Support Line of Media providing psychotherapy to children and families affected by childhood sexual trauma.  Prior to working with the Psychiatry Clinic, Scott spent 12 years working with Burn Survivors and their families where he learned to appreciate the unique integrative adaptations that people weave together in response to trauma.


This event is open to PSCSW members only.

Participants who attend this program must be present for its entirety in order to get continuing education credits.

Cost: No charge for PSCSW Members to attend. There is a $10 fee for anyone wishing a CE certificate.

Cancellation Policy: There is a $5 non-refundable administrative fee for any cancellation upto 48 hours prior to this program. No refund will be issued if less than 48 hours’ notice is given for this program.


approved for credits for professional workshops sponsored by the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work, a state affiliate of the Clinical Social Work Association listed in Section

47.36 of Title 49, Chapter 47 of the PA Code, State Board of Social Work Examiners. This program is also approved for 3 credits for professional workshops for marriage & family therapists (Section 48.36) and professional counselors (Section 49.36).

FOR NEW JERSEY SOCIAL WORKERS: This program is approved for 3 clinical credits. Attendance at programs or courses given at state and national social work association conferences, where the criteria for membership is an academic degree in social work, are a valid source of continuing education credit (N.J.A.C. 13:44G-6.4(c)4).

PSCSW Members - Before you begin any registration, you must log in to the website to pay the member rate. If you register without logging in, you will pay at the nonmember rate. If you need assistance logging in, please contact the PSCSW office at:

  • August 16, 2020
    1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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