Professor’s fieldwork culminates in e-book for immigrant women

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel

Social Work Professor Catherine Marrs Fuchsel and her book cover (right).

It’s been a long time coming, but Catherine Marrs Fuchsel did it. The associate professor in the joint St. Catherine University–St. Thomas School of Social Work recently published Sí, Yo Puedo, a step-by-step program to aid bilingual Spanish-English mental health professionals in their work with immigrant women who have been domestically assaulted.

“I still can’t believe it — I’m thrilled!” said Marrs Fuchsel. “This book is my life’s work, and it will not only help mental health professionals — such as clinical social workers, professional counselors, family and marriage therapists, psychologists — facilitate group therapy for this important population of women in the U.S. or in other Spanish-speaking countries, but it will also help immigrant women, often who are very marginalized. Hopefully, as more women participate in these groups, they can have the potential to become empowered to make changes in their lives.”

Sí, Yo Puedo, or “Yes, I can,” is essentially an 11-week curriculum to promote self-esteem, prevent domestic violence, and help readers — and participants — understand the meaning of healthy relationships within a cultural framework. The book includes structured sessions with goals and objectives, in-class self-reflection drawing and writing exercises, and handouts for the weekly topics, such as coping strategies.

Upon completion of this program, Marrs Fuchsel explained, immigrant women — in particular Latinas — will be empowered to examine their current relationships and their self-esteem, and to make the necessary changes in their lives.

The 192-page book grew out of six years worth of data collection and fieldwork research with three community partners in two states, including local social service agencies. Among them: Centro, the largest Latino social service agency in the Twin Cities; Community Health Service, Inc. in Rochester, Minnesota; and the West Chicago Police Department in Illinois. Marrs Fuchsel also tapped St. Kate’s social work students in her research project, and she frequently discusses or shares findings in her classes.

“A lot of women need support while they’re in the abusive relationship,” said Marrs Fuschel. “We can empower these women by raising their awareness about their situation and helping them make informed decisions.”

In addition to teaching in the graduate program, Marrs Fuchsel directs the St. Kate’s–St. Thomas Doctorate of Social Work program. Originally from Lima, Peru, she has over 19 years direct practice experience working with Latino families across the United States. Her interest in domestic violence intervention and prevention began in 2002 when she worked as a clinical social worker in Phoenix, Arizona with largely undocumented immigrant Mexican women.

Yes, I Can (Sí, Yo Puedo), published by Oxford University Press, is currently available as an e-book for $34.95 at www.oup.com/academic (use promo code ASFLYQ6 to save 30 percent). A copy will soon be in circulation at St. Kate's library.

Print editions will be published in January 2018 and sold at the University of St Thomas campus store.


By Pauline Oo