Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog

The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Powerlessness 101

An interesting thing happened at field practicum yesterday.

My field instructor has been working with siblings in one-on-one sessions. I have been allowed to observe all of her sessions, with the permission of the clients and their guardians. It has been a highlight of my field experience. Watching the siblings progress and getting to know them has been a privilege and an amazing learning experience.

Yesterday the guardian requested not only a new therapist, but also tried to dictate the length of sessions and demanded to know what the siblings are sharing in sessions. In addition to all of these complaints, the guardian is denying the intern (me) access to the sessions.

I was disappointed. I have processed the situation somewhat, and I have learned more about powerlessness. There is nothing I can do about it. I have to practice acceptance.

My field instructor's director did not allow the guardian to switch therapists for the siblings, nor are they allowing the guardian to dictate the length of the sessions. The guardian will not be granted the right to know everything the siblings share in therapy sessions. However, they must honor the request to keep the intern (me) out.

Apparently the guardian has a history of interrupting the service of the sibling's treatment as a diversion tactic. The siblings have been severely abused and have difficulty trusting people. As soon as they begin to open up, the guardian acts out and introduces roadblocks to the treatment process.

I believe I brought something to the sessions. I was compassionate and caring. I listened, laughed and was moved by their experiences. I am able to let go with understanding. I am powerless over people, places and things... and guardians.

--Ms. T. J.


  1. I think the important thing to remember here is not to take it personally. As you said, the guardian has a history of doing this kind of thing before.

  2. You might want to consider asking your supervisor if you might read her documentation regarding this family. Not sure how she will feel about it, but it is worth of try. No need to say that of course you will keep everything you read strictly to yourself.

  3. Carolyn-
    She's very open to that; in fact I've read most of the charts already. I appreciate your comment. And, yes, I am honoring the Code of Ethics as it pertains to confidentiality.

    --Ms. T. J.