I love what I do, but I get a kick out of learning things on the fly that would have been so much more useful before that moment. Here’s my first attempt at listing some of these trends that you never knew we didn’t know. Feel free to comment and add your own 🙂
1) You can’t save everyone– I don’t mean this to be cynical or a reason to not continue to do what we do, but so many people still have the “save the world” mentality. Social work is a broad field and a lot of this is also what it is you’re doing with your degree. The truth, is much more likely that things won’t be filled with the “aha” moment. People will continue on their merry way, filled with bad habits, and your efforts will often go by the way-side even with your best efforts. What makes it all worthwhile is those few and far between wins. In a sense, social workers operate much like addicts, just waiting for the next hit.
**For this reason, and many more, don’t forget the importance of supervision. If you’re not getting it where you are, get it somewhere else. We need to continue to grow and learn in order to be effective social workers.
2) You should be grateful- We all know social workers get into the field for money and power….No? Damn, I must have misheard them at the college fair. OK, so we all know that social workers are often underpaid, overworked, etc. What we’re not told is that we’re expected to keep it like that. After all, we’re lucky to have jobs. This is the kind of thinking that hurts us. Put an unfair burden, take away benefits, raises, help, and other disciplines would storm out. Social workers are not only expected to make it work, we are looked down upon if we complain about it. It doesn’t matter that our expected salary is a joke, the student loans are equitable with those of much higher grossing professions.
3) It’s not the place to meet guys- This one might sound flippant, and it was never a reason why I chose the profession, but Holy mother of lady parts Batman is it a female dominated field. Now this gives a really interesting experience, but it lacks the diversity and different viewpoints in order to question and expand the field. It also ensures hilarity every time a male social worker joins the group. We instantly turn into the seagulls of Finding Nemo whispering “Boy? Boy?” But one thing that is still vastly apparent is that despite the ratio, a huge majority of management positions are still held by men.
4) Get off the couch- Social workers are less constrained to be clinicians than our counterparts in the mental health field, and we should take advantage of it more. Within a short time you’ll realize that social workers will be used interchangeably with: therapist, case worker, case manager, CPS worker, social services, and child stealer. Don’t worry about the last one, but the differentiation must be made that social workers can encompass a little bit of all of these jobs and more. Don’t get bogged down to a label.
5) We’re not all saints- You would think that everyone in the helping profession would be…well, helpful. The fact remains, just like all other populations or groups, you will have some good, some bad, some in-between. Everyone is drawn into their profession for their own reasons, and just as we ask ourselves what the client is bringing baggage wise, we have to remember that we all carry baggage as well.
Written by Courtny Kidd, LCSW
SJS Staff Writer
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