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NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Ohrenstein made important advances in detecting and addressing problems of child abuse, particularly in her work with Jewish families at the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services (formerly the Jewish Board of Guardians). Her work expanded to include families from various ethnicities and addressed trauma and incest. She worked to include perpetrators as well as victims of trauma in therapeutic efforts. Her research and direct services led to programs for professionals dealing with trauma on a daily basis and how to avoid secondary trauma.
Ohrenstein served with the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services from 1962-1984. Her work began a dialogue with the American Jewish World Services, which sent volunteers around the world to deal with traumatic situations. She also sought to train social workers who traveled to crisis situations in methods of self-care. She was director of the Manhattan East Clinic of the Madelaine Borg Community Services of the J.B.F.C.S. from 1984-1990.
Ohrenstein helped formulate and direct a social work training program for professional Russian immigrants arriving in great numbers during the 1980’s. This was a novel approach that provided immigrant professionals that were fluent in the language to provide much-needed services to a growing immigrant population in New York City.
Ohrenstein was a member of the New York State Temporary Commission on Child Welfare in the late 1970’s. She worked for the New York City schools as a consultant and administrator from 1967 to 1977.
Ohrenstein has also been in private practice since 1962.
Marilyn Ohrenstein earned her DSW from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work in 1984. She received her MSW from Columbia University in 1952 and her BA from Queens College in New York in 1949.
Significant Achievements and Awards
1984-2005: member of the Manhattan Child and Adolescent Service Committee, Planning Conference Committee
1982-1983: member of New York State’s Governor’s Advisory Commission on Mental Health
1984-1990: member of Advisory Council to New York State’s Department of Mental health
Ohrenstein was also the editor of the Domestic Violence Resources Book, published in 1993 and 1995.
Geller, J.A., Madsen, L.A. & Ohrenstein, L. (2004). Secondary trauma: A team approach. Clinical Social Work Journal, 32(4), 415.
Ohrenstein, L. & Lieberman F. (1994). The vulnerability of anonymity and neutrality in psychotherapy. Journal of Analytic Social Work, 2(1), 43-66.