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.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday night reflections

I'M SETTLING IN for the day after morning and afternoon classes. It feels good to reunite with my classmates and professors after summer break. I have to say it: Most people who choose social work as a career are pretty wonderful folks. For the most part, we are a caring and respectful lot who loves to laugh and have a good time while learning.

One of our profs talked about self-care today, and I wrote down almost every word he said. Not because it's anything new to me. And not because I don't know how important it will be. I wrote it down so that when those days come -- and they will -- when I have to choose between myself and another human being, I will pick me.

What I know, without a doubt, is that nobody will look out for us in the same way we will be looking out for our clients. Social workers will go to any length to care for, try to understand and advocate for, and find services for clients. We will be expected to do these things, and we will want to -- nine times out of ten.

And then the tenth time will come around. And we will have to choose. We will not want to drop our responsibilities, so we will make a Plan B regarding our client(s). We will choose to tend to our own lives because we know that we cannot help another human being if we do not first take care of ourselves.

This brings to mind the analogy of the oxygen masks used on airplanes. If we are ever instructed to put one on, before we can help an elderly or youthful passenger, we must first put on our own mask. It is only then, when we are breathing strongly, that we can reach out our hand to offer support to another human being.

~Ms. T. J.


  1. Good point about putting on your own mask first. Great analogy!

  2. Ahh yes, the self-care fear.  I'm good at taking care of myself but my big fear, and the fear that my husband has with me pursuing this degree, is that I'll unnecessarily compromise more than I should.  For example, if I have a client in need I might work an extra hour to finish something before heading home.  One hour doesn't seem like much.  But it compounds over time.  And each little bit of me time or family time will eat away at our lives slowly and surely . . . and honestly, my husband wants me to choose US, not my clients.  And I need to respect that and honor that and remember that US and ME is important too.


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