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, May 27, 2011

The Future

As a new social worker (or rather, a new MSW/LMSW... I'd argue that most social workers have been such since their youth, they just didn't have the credentials yet), I'm also new to the experience of being an intern's supervisor.

When I began my current position, I requested and submitted intern request paperwork to several schools. I loved the idea of getting to assist others as they learn and grow in this profession. Due to unexpected circumstances, I ended up with 3 interns, none of whom I had more than a few days notice about before their first day. They're finishing now (after about 12 weeks), but I'm looking back and attempting to figure out how to better prepare future interns to succeed.

Much like one's first clients, I worry about first interns. I understand that, as humans, we all learn from experience, and through trial and error. As a social worker and a teacher of sorts, I wonder whether that's unfair to the first. I think about my own internship experiences and I recall worrying about whether I was ready to counsel, to treat, to even speak to a client.

It's a tricky thing, the way professions like ours work. On one hand, we always want the most experienced doctor/therapist/teacher, on the other, we understand that the cycle of allowing others to gain experience is part of life.

I sort of hoped, as I pondered while I wrote this, that I'd come to some grand conclusion of how to best prepare my future interns, how to miraculously obtain decades of supervision experience, or even how to reassure them that they're able to handle it all as they complete their internships. I still don't have any of those answers other than that, perhaps part of the growth is in asking the questions.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Branching Out

Tonight, I watched the documentary Becoming Chaz, the film chronicling Sonny and Cher's daughter Chastity as he became legally and surgically their son Chaz. Although the film's purpose is to cover the transition period, it also showed viewers a window into his romantic relationship with his female partner, the way each of the couple explained the transition to their families and friends, and the way the media covers such topics. It really got me to thinking about how wonderful it'd be if everyone saw such a documentary, or at least if every social worker did... especially those who believe they'll never work with a trans person.

As social workers, we spend a great deal of time in school and then, when we're done, we're required to spend time in CEUs, many of which we choose based on their location, the times they're offered, and/or on how closely they relate to our specific job tasks.

I wonder how many of us think outside the box. How many choose CEU classes based on something that has nothing to do with their jobs? Who chooses the classes on children when they work with elders? Who chooses a course on teen moms when their job deals with hospital patients? Much as many may deny it, for as busy as we all are, I think it's only natural to sometimes feel that the CEU class you have scheduled for an evening after you've worked a full day is annoying or a burden. (Quite frankly, I wish we as social workers had more free time and more free money so we could be properly pampered and less inclined to burn out.)

So I encourage you to branch out. I'm not suggesting you spend your spare pennies on more CEUs than you're required to take, but consider alternatives. Watch a documentary. Attend a benefit. Visit an art exhibit. Read an article, a book, or new research. Choose something you know nothing about and remove at least the most surface level of that ignorance.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What They Aren't Saying But Are DEFINITELY Thinking...

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-Things-Your-Boss-Isnt-usnews-493657782.html?x=0 This article is called 10 Things Your Boss Isn't Telling You.

In the article, the author discusses things that your boss might not write on your evaluation or call you into a meeting about but that are effecting her/his view of you and your ability to do the job.

This leads me to wonder, what do you wish you were able to tell a co-worker? What do you wish someone would have told you sooner? How might you have benefited had you had the information sooner?

Friday, May 6, 2011

What is a "Mother?"

As Mothers' Day approaches, I am reminded of a scene in the Broadway show La Cage aux Folles in which the characters debate what constitutes a mother. One character essentially states that a mother is the person who gives birth to you, the other argues that this isn't at all his definition. He counters that a mother worries about the tiniest threads of your life, someone who senses that you need them without being told, someone who puts you first, and as someone who loves you more than all of the loves you've ever had in your life.

As social workers, we frequently deal with family units and we practice under the Code of Ethics, which acknowledges differences and demands that we be both sensitive and open-minded regarding the differences of others.

For as often as single mothers on tv sometimes are shown discussing how she is both the mother and the father, it's interesting how rare it is that media shows other versions of "mothers."

That said, I hope everyone will take a moment this weekend to thank the mothers in your life. Whether they are biological parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, a trusted female who isn't a blood relative, a father who served as a mother-figure, a pair of mothers raising a child together, or any other type of person who takes on a maternal role, each one deserves acknowledgment and thanks... after all, where would we be without them?!