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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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Help for the helper

IT'S OKAY THAT THIS IS HARD. Field practicum is many things. It's exciting. It's way different from what I've been doing for more than a decade. It's shocking, and troubling, and difficult.

I've decided that I am not going to do it alone. Yes, I have a field instructor, a field liaison and a field professor. I also have a loving husband and some really great friends. I have a safety net that I feel honored to call my own.

And I am going to talk to a therapist. Heck, yeah. I am going to be one in less time than it takes to have a baby, so I think I have faith in the healing practice called psychotherapy.

Today I sat with a LCSW who gets it. She knows all about tough love and being triggered. She went through the same MSW program that I did at the same school. She gets that graduate school and internships in the social work field are tough; she's done it!

I need support and I am not afraid or ashamed to admit it.

One of my readings for class ('What about Feelings?: A Study of Emotion and Tension in Social Work Field Education), explores the difficulties inherent in field practicum for students. It also speaks to the harsh reality that students often keep things inside and tough it out. You know, we do the exact opposite of what we want our clients to do!

Guess what, though? We are all made of the same stuff -- we human beings. We aren't "better than or less than" in this department. When we see stuff that is painful, hurtful and cruel, we will be affected by it. And, I believe that if I am I going to be a useful and effective social worker, I must stay centered and balanced. Or, I will not be helping anyone.

"In order to have compassion for others, we have to have compassion for ourselves (Pema Chodron).

~Ms. T. J.


  1. I applaud you for this decision!  It is wonderful to have that extra bit of support.

  2. Thanks, Amy Rose. I think it will make a big difference.
    ~Ms. T. J.


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