SARAKAY

SaraKay Smullens

Contributor

BSR Contributor Since August 9, 2008

SaraKay Smullens (she/her pronouns) is a licensed diplomate in clinical social work and a trained family therapist and educator, and the best-selling author of Whoever Said Life Is Fair?, Setting Yourself Free: Breaking the Cycle of Emotional Abuse in Family, Friendship, Love and Work, and Burnout and Self-Care in Social Work. Find out more at www.sarakaysmullens.com.

SaraKay Smullens, MSW, LCSW, BCD, CGP, CFLE, whose private and pro bono clinical practice is based in Philadelphia, is a long-time contributor to BSR and a best-selling author. A licensed diplomate in clinical social work and family therapist, she is certified as both family life educator and group psychotherapist. SaraKay’s fourth book, Burnout and Self-Care in Social Work: A Guidebook for Students and Those in Mental Health and Related Professions (edition 2), was published in 2021 (NASW Press). She has published in peer-reviewed journals, on numerous blogs, including The Huffington Post, and the popular press, and writes monthly film reviews for The New Social Worker.

In 2004 SaraKay received a Lifetime Achievement Award from NASW-PA for the recognition of clergy as “the missing link” in confronting domestic violence and subsequent trainings offered as well as her identification of invisible cycles of emotional abuse, always part of physical and sexual abuse, but meriting their own codification. In 2018, due to her advisory contributions to film maker Jennifer Fox’s award-winning drama, The Tale, she received the organization's Social Worker of the Year award.

In 2018, SaraKay was one of five graduates of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) selected for their inaugural Hall of Fame. In 2021, due to her years of clinical concentration, advocacy, and activism, the Society of Social Work Leadership in Health Care selected her for their Kermit D. Nash Award. SaraKay’s professional papers and memorabilia are divided between the archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Goucher College, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

By this Author

31 results
Page 1
Toothbrushes are a simple thing, but could they send a powerful message? (Photo by Jonas Bergsten, via Wikimedia Commons.)

What happened when ordinary people answered the immigration crisis in Clint, Texas?

For the children

Philly-based therapist and educator SaraKay Smullens couldn't bear to keep quiet when news broke of inhumane conditions inside a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, that housed hundreds of migrant children. Here's what happened next.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Essays 5 minute read
Author Laurada Byers with students of the Russell Byers Charter School. (Photo by Ryan Brandenburg.)

‘Wild Wisdom: A Warthog’s Tale’ by Laurada Byers

Surviving the jungle

In ‘Wild Wisdom,’ a new graphic memoir, a Philadelphia woman who’s seen more than her share of grief offers unexpectedly uplifting life lessons with the help of a special ambassador: the warthog. SaraKay Smullens reviews.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 4 minute read
In the film, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps helps a little boy overcome his fear. (Photo courtesy of IndieFlix.)

Friends Select School Wellness Program and IndieFlix's 'Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety'

Fear factors

Friends Select School kicks off the third year of its Wellness Program with a screening of 'Angst: Raising Awareness Around Anxiety.' SaraKay Smullens reviews.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Essays 3 minute read
Susan Riley Stevens and Warren Kelley as Lee and Capote. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

Walnut Street Theatre's Studio 3 presents Will Stutts's 'The Gift'

Truth and famous fictions

'The Gift,' Will Stutts's imagined meeting between Harper Lee and Truman Capote, is built on "alternative facts." SaraKay Smullens reviews.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 3 minute read
Vanessa Williams has plenty to say and sing. (Photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center)

Broadway Up Close: Vanessa Williams, hosted by Seth Rudetsky

Up close and very personal

The Kimmel Center's Broadway Up Close series featured Vanessa Williams hosted by Seth Rudetsky. But did the interview format do her talents justice? SaraKay Smullens reviews.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 4 minute read
'Home Alone' performed live to picture by the Philadelphia Orchestra. (Composite photo © 1990 Twentieth Century Fox)

'Home Alone' with the Philadelphia Orchestra

A family affair

SaraKay Smullens took her grandson to see the Philadelphia Orchestra play John Williams's 'Home Alone' score live along with the film. She may have also created a lifelong orchestra fan.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 3 minute read
No "your momma" jokes for Caroline Dooner, but plenty for her momma. (Photo by John Flak)

1812 Productions' JillineFest, celebrating 10 years of the Jilline Ringle Solo Performance Program

Caroline Dooner's Possible Memoir Titles (& Songs) chases a momster

As part of JillineFest, in Caroline Dooner's 'Possible Memoir Titles (& Songs)' the solo performer looks at herself and sees her mother.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 3 minute read
Singer Eddie Bruce, putting on a happy face. (Photo courtesy of eddiebruce.com)

Eddie Bruce: The music of Tony Bennett and friends with Tom Adams Trio at Chris' Jazz Café

For one night only, Bruce does Bennett

Stalwart Philly bandleader Eddie Bruce hosted a one-night-only tribute to Tony Bennett and his contemporaries. But did he fly them to the moon? SaraKay Smullens reviews the dinner performance.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 4 minute read
Dufala, McDonald, and everyone else's everything else. (Photo courtesy of RAIR)

RAIR presents Martha McDonald's 'Songs of Memory and Forgetting' at Revolution Recovery

The detritus of our lives

Set in a construction-waste recycling facility, this deeply moving installation and performance examines the things we leave behind and the messages they send.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 3 minute read
Unsettling— and real: Matteo Scammell and Merci Lyons-Cox in 'Smoke.' (Photo: Robert Hakalski.)

Kim Davies’s ‘Smoke’ at Theatre Exile (third comment)

Love and pain and reality

Kim Davies’s Smoke has discomfited many people with its unflinching portrayal of sadomasochism. But as a family therapist, I found this portrayal both accurate and valuable.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 4 minute read
Greer (left) with Paul L. Nolan as Martin Weinberg: Remember Blaze Starr? (Photo: Paola Nogueras.)

Bruce Graham’s ‘Rizzo’ at Theatre Exile (third review)

The real Frank Rizzo, as I knew him

The good and the bad of Frank Rizzo the man are both there in Bruce Graham's Rizzo. But the play barely hints at the terrifying ugly of the man and some members of his police force, which I witnessed firsthand.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 5 minute read
Alice Lee (above) had a legacy to protect. That required muzzling her younger sister Harper. (Photo: Ainsley Bennet /Landov/Barcroft.)

Harper Lee’s sister: Protector or warden?

Found: The real villain of the Mockingbird mystery

Why the sudden publication of Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, an aged recluse who had long insisted she would never write another book? No doubt the key event was the death last year of Harper Lee’s older sister Alice. But my perspective as a family therapist suggests that Alice wasn't Harper's protector, but her oppressor.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 9 minute read
Judi Dench, Steve Coogan in 'Philomena': Another country, another pregnancy.

Stephen Frears’s ‘Philomena’ (2nd comment)

When the Church did something right: A social worker’s story

Philomena deservedly paints the Catholic Church in its most deceptive and manipulative light. But my experience with the U.S. Church in the 1960s was a very different story.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 3 minute read
Dixon (left), Raphaely: Things that don’t change.

Life lessons from ‘4,000 Miles’ (2nd review)

Grandparents, grandchildren
and nine life lessons from 4,000 Miles

Vera and her grandson Leo are each lost in a journey of aloneness but determined to somehow survive without complaint. In less than two hours 4,000 Miles brings us nine truths too rarely found in theatrical experiences.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 3 minute read
Paquin: The more needy, the more sexualized.

Real life: Kenneth Lonergan's 'Margaret'

The unpredictable messiness of real life

Contrary to what you see in most movies and plays, “happy endings” last at best for a few days, and more likely a few hours. Kenneth Lonergan's haunting Margaret is that rare film that captures reality with gripping accuracy— if you can find it.
SaraKay Smullens

SaraKay Smullens

Articles 4 minute read