S.W.itching to Education (Program in Development)

Program for retraining social workers as teachers

In the S.W.itching to Education program, interested social workers receive additional training to integrate into the school system as teachers and mentors. Through their training in both fields, they are able to contribute a much-needed educational-therapeutic language to educational institutions. 


The inclusion of mental health professionals like social workers in the education system is necessary to address deficiencies both in the education system and in the clinical care system, which has not managed to create a successful platform for child and youth care. This integrated model is able to catch children and teenagers who might otherwise not receive care, in part by avoiding the stigma of labeling students as “patients.”


Teachers coming from social work backgrounds are able to employ in the classroom many tools from their training and experience in therapeutic contexts:

  • Therapeutic portfolio management as a model for lesson administration.
  • Sensitivity to the needs of the student;
  • Attention to the student’s emotional world and intersecting contexts;
  • Empowerment and inspiration as educational instruments;
  • Awareness of and experience with building, improving and working with complexes of other forces in the students’ lives: community services, family, other institutions and activities.
  • Experience building systems of support and guidance for themselves as professionals, to avoid burnout.


All of these assets, but particularly the last two, contribute beyond their own classrooms, to the institutions that employ teachers with backgrounds in social work.


In general, we see the institutional improvements resulting from the integration of social workers occuring organically: the atmosphere in the institution shifts, the ability to avoid situations of dropping out, and to contain student crises improves. These broader cultural shifts are reflected in personal conversations with students and in discussions of challenges in the teachers’ room. The S.W.itching to Education program has a huge potential to influence and raise up underperforming primary and secondary schools. As the program gains momentum, it will surely serve as a model change agent in the entire education system.


For the social workers’ own benefit, the transition to teaching gives them a challenging professional opportunity to adopt a multidisciplinary approach, which allows them to see results at a higher level than they would see in other social work settings. There is a great deal of research in support of the rehabilitative advantages of the multidisciplinary educational approach over, for example, conventional therapy rooms.

Details of the training program


The S.W.itching to Education retraining program is a joint program of Menifa and Colleges of Education in Israel; participants leave the program with teaching certification, and there may also be the possibility of receiving Masters of Teaching degrees in the future.


Courses are offered by a team of experienced lecturers from Menifa’s staff — educators, counselors and therapists — who are recognized lecturers with the Department of Education.


Sample courses:


The Therapeutic Educator: A Holistic Approach

The course offers an introduction to the theoretical basis of therapeutic teaching, with a historical view of the evolution of movements within the discipline.

We examine the therapeutic teaching profession, with reference to the multi-system paradigm, studying theories and models that have influenced the way in which the concept of therapeutic teaching has been formulated in the world in general and in Israel in particular. We investigate the work of the therapeutic teacher from the perspective of its various fundamental purposes, including the construction and stabilization of support systems for educational teams, and the creation of an optimal climate for the felicitous development of the student, by responding to personal needs and empowering the student to advance their social and emotional cognitive abilities in the various systems in which they are growing.


Attrition Prevention

This course considers topics including:

  • The dropout phenomenon and its causes – historical and theoretical background;
  • A snapshot of the current domestic situation;
  • Operational tools for the reduction of attrition.


Individual and Group

This course will cover the following topics:

  • The dialogue between the individual and the group in the classroom;
  • The expected developmental challenges according to age;
  • Different approaches, expectations and strategies for children with special needs;
  • Therapeutic teachers and heterogeneous classrooms;
  • Inclusion and integration as a philosophy;
  • Group processes and the exceptional child;
  • Emotional interventions in the integrated classroom;
  • Systemic strategies to advance the individual within the classroom.


The Therapeutic Teacher’s Role in Dealing with Behavior Problems in School Settings

Behavior problems are one of the main difficulties facing schools today, and one of the main reasons for removal of children from ordinary education to special education. Analysis of both theory and empirical data on diverse behavioral problems shows that both the sources and potential solutions are necessarily complex, and require professional, multidisciplinary and ongoing treatment. This course teaches classification of behavior problems and theoretical, practical and strategic tools for leading a school staff on prevention, treatment and coping with student behavior problems. We develop a strategic approach and case management skills, considering the various actors in the system: psychologists, teachers, administrators, parents, counselors, and social workers.


Transitioning from Therapy to Teaching with Psycho-Dramatic Tools for Students and for Teachers

Practical Work – This course will be jointly taught by an instructor from the college and an instructor from Menifa.


Guided Practicum

There is a gap between theory and reality, between the ideal and the real, between experience in a learning environment and experience under real-life conditions. In this course, a concerted effort will be made to reduce these gaps and create a meaningful meeting between theory and practical work. The course serves as a framework for learning through observation (modeling) and active experience in a school. This course also operates through emotional and cognitive processing, individually and as a group, of experience with therapeutic teaching. Special emphasis is placed on integration of atypical students; individual, group, class-wide, and system-wide interventions; consultation with teachers and community and therapeutic agencies; education, treatment and rehabilitation frameworks within the community; classroom climate and school climate; inclusion and differentiation in the education system; coping with stress and crisis situations; communication with children, parents and teachers; problem formulation and problem solving.


Therapeutic Methods in an Educational Context

This course focuses on the use of various therapeutic methods in the educational system, including mindfulness, positive psychology, DBT, narrative therapy, CBT, strengths perspective, coaching, expressive and creative arts therapy and more.