Every social worker makes mistakes. I’ve been told that when we are new social workers it takes a while to figure out where we went wrong and as we gain experience and wisdom the time between making a mistake – and knowing we made a mistake becomes shorter. However, it doesn’t mean we stop making mistakes. I encourage you to embrace your mistakes! Growth as a professional comes from learning from the times we struggle. To help you know what to look for here are some of the common mistakes many of us make.
Summer is the perfect time for self-care and to enjoy a bit of downtime. Of course, you should find time to read your favorite, thriller, romance or mystery book but what about getting a bit more attuned with social work and maybe discover a new area to pursue.
I could ask social workers for recommendations of the best professional books but instead, I am going to pick of few of the titles on my own bookcase! Any of these books are worth a social worker checking them out.
Congratulations if you just graduated with a BSW or MSW. You have your diploma in hand and a party to celebrate but now what?
Now it is time to be a social worker! A few thoughts for new graduates to consider. (And a great reminder to us who have been around a bit!)
It is the time of year of graduations and spring.
A next step for many is to work toward their social work licensure. Licensure lends credibility to your career and shows you have the knowledge to be a social worker. Sometimes the steps can seem overwhelming but you can do it! Just take one step at a time. Here are some expert tips to keep you on the right path!
March is designated Social Work Month. Social workers are a diverse group but share so much in common. Social workers share a passion for helping others, fighting against oppression, a belief in the inherent worth of each person and each person’s right to self-determination. If you know a social worker – wish them well this month. If you are a social worker – Happy Social Worker month. Thank you for your contribution to our world!
If you are at a loss on how to recognize Social Work Month – here are 13 ideas to get you celebrating.
Many people go into social work with an eye to eventually provide therapy in their own private practice. When I went for my MSW, I was working in child welfare and thought I would be a terrible therapist. I thought therapists were people who were academic and made leaps of intuition that were almost magical. It turns out therapists are just trained individuals who listen, provide empathy and assist clients with finding solutions to the struggles they encounter. Social Workers have a unique perspective because we look at the person in the environment – we look at the whole person and the systems within which they interact. We also are strengths-based practitioners, so we help clients find the positives they can build on. When I realized that I didn’t have to fit some preconceived mold to be a private practice therapist and identified and valued my own clinical skills – I embraced having a private practice and currently it is my favorite work as a social worker. If you are thinking of starting your own private practice sometime in the future, here are some things you can work on now during your journey.
For many of us, this is a busy time a year. We have the bustle of life, our families, our job or school and the holidays. This busy schedule prompted me to think about how, in school, I was told that as a social worker there will always be more work than time. I bet some of you are looking at possibly going back to school, or starting a new job, or trying not to be overwhelmed with a current job and wonder how do people do it all?
In my career as a supervisor, one area that new workers often seem to be lacking in, is the practicalities of how to organize their time, their tasks and caseloads in a way that works. In the past, I might suggest to someone I supervise different ways to organize, then I would back off. I told them they would figure out what works for them. It turns out I should have been more directive. I may not have tips that will take all the busy away but I can give you ideas on organizing at work and school.
I worked in child welfare for 17 years after I first earned my BSW. I was an expert in everything child welfare. I finally decided I wanted to try a new path. (Which is one of the awesome aspects of social work–there are always different paths to choose!) I accepted a job as a dialysis social worker and I had no idea what being a medical social worker entailed. At all. I started working for an independent dialysis center and I was the only social worker there so no one to train me. I asked my supervisor –not a social worker – for training for my job, she said – “Do social work things.” Not the most helpful advice andI really had no idea my responsibilities were and the positive impact I could have as a medical social worker. I learned on the job, picked up a few things and now have years of experience in the medical field.
One of the unique aspects of social work is that we are not just counselors or therapists, we are also advocates. We understand that the environments individuals live in have an effect on how their lives may be playing out. We advocate on both the level of individual client and at the larger macro level. We are encouraged and even expected – as is written in the Social Worker Code of Ethics– to fight against exploitation and ensure people have access to their basic human rights. Being involved in social justice issues and policy is all part of being a social worker. I have always thought it was a bit freeing that not only can I question authority and status quo but that it is expected!
People are complicated. As a social worker, you are often working with individuals in immense emotional and often physical pain. One of the best aspects of being a social worker is when you help someone heal. Other times, a client can have difficulty moving out of their pain. It can be scary for a social worker (new or experienced) to have a client indicate they are going to irrevocably harm themselves. I know a lot of therapists who say they don’t take clients who are at high risk of suicide but anyone you work with may be at risk. It is essential, to be willing to be aware that suicide might be a risk.