“Our profession was born in the industrial revolution. Over the past century we've developed a toolbox and perspective that uniquely position us to solve the problems confronting the 21st century. But to do this, we need to integrate our social skills with those of the the digital age.”
Social work in digital environments, technology for social good, social innovation, and leadership
Under Nancy J. Smyth’s leadership as dean (2004-2021), the University at Buffalo School of Social Work integrated a trauma-informed and human rights perspective throughout the master’s curriculum, established the Buffalo Center for Social Research, expanded international education and research, and raised the rankings of the MSW program to top 10 percent in the United States. Smyth is a board member of the National Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD), a past president of the St. Louis Group (the national organization of social work deans at research universities), and helped to found the National Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. She has served as co-chair for the Task Force on Disasters & Trauma for NADD, and has served as member of the SSW Advisory Board for Trauma Counseling Certificate since 2000.
Smyth is a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and has worked in both mental health and addiction treatment settings for over 35 years as a clinician, manager, educator, researcher and program developer. Her research, teaching and practice focus on trauma, substance abuse, and on working with people recovering from those experiences, including the use of innovative treatment approaches like EMDR and mindfulness meditation. Past roles include: co-investigator with PI Dr. Gerard Connors on Developing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for Application in Alcoholism Treatment (NIAAA), co-investigator with PI Dr. Christopher Barrick on Knowledge Exchange and Skills Training for Therapists (NIDA), providing consultation on Bessel van der Kolk’s National Institute of Mental Health-funded study of Treatment Outcomes of Fluoxetine vs EMDR in PTSD and on a study of EMDR in an integrated treatment program in the Thurston County Drug Court.
In the last few years, Smyth has been exploring the implications of digital technologies for social work practice and education. Her vision included expanding the social work profession’s presence on the Internet through the first school-sponsored social work podcast, UB’s inSocialWork, interviews that feature social work research and practice. inSocialWork now has listeners in over 200 countries and all 50 states, and over 1.5 million downloads.
Smyth joined UB in 1991 as an assistant professor from the State University of New York at Albany, her alma mater, where she earned a BA in psychology, an MSW, and PhD in Social Welfare. She also is an R-level New York State Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-R), EMDR Certified EMDR Therapist, and EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Instructor. Smyth also has been an affiliated research scientist with the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions since 1991.