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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This week is a big week here in NYC. It's Pride Week, a week full of pro-LGBT activities and events, a week full of public displays of love, a week full of hope. It's also a week when the NY Senate is likely bringing same-sex marriage to a vote. They need 32 votes to allow it. Right now, there are 31 confirmed votes in favor. There are a few undecided voters, who are being bombarded with urging from both sides and the rest are Republicans, known to vote against such, who are likely considering what vote fits with their beliefs and their career goals. Needless to say, love and what defines love is on the minds of many here in New York City this week.

And then I stumbled upon this; http://www.thekidsarelistening.org/

This website sums up everything, in my opinion. In addition, there is a place on the main page for people to sign a pledge. The pledge reads:

"Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that "It Gets Better."

From there, a person can sign this pledge, identifying themselves as a legal/court professional, a social service provider, an adult, or an LGBT youth. There are also options to become more involved in your community's equality movement.

I don't know what each of you readers believe and I feel that we're all entitled to whatever beliefs we hold true, as long as they don't harm others. I also believe in the NASW Code of Ethics. In both cases, this lends only to equality. We cannot believe that it does not harm youth to say bigoted words, we cannot believe that it does not harm society to have laws making a group of people less than another group, and we cannot sit back and do nothing when we know this is happening.

Our Code of Ethics says this;

Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.

(NASW Code of Ethics, 105.c.)

I hope that you will stand with me in the promotion of equality and of speaking up for the LGBT youth whose voices aren't yet strong enough to speak for themselves.

EDIT at 10:56pm, 6/24: NY becomes the 6th state to legalize same sex marriage. May there be 44 others close behind.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Did You See This?!

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter "Melanie" is finishing her master's degree in social work. She's excited about pursuing her future career; however, when we tell our friends about her, we get disappointing -- and sometimes, hurtful -- responses. Some samples: "Whose idea was that?!" "You know she's going to starve, don't you?" "Oh ... they don't make much money," and, "I'm sorry!" These comments come from people with whom we've had warm relationships for years.

We know our daughter won't be rich. That's not her objective. We're proud of Melanie's choice and how hard she has prepared. We think she'll be a wonderful social worker. We have always been supportive of our friends' children and their choices. Is there a way to respond to these people without being rude? -- PROUD PARENTS IN DES MOINES

You should be proud. You have raised a daughter who will make an important contribution to the lives of those she touches. When someone makes a thoughtless comment such as the ones you mentioned, tell them what you wrote to me: "We're proud of our daughter's choice and how hard she has worked to prepare. We know she'll be a wonderful social worker." Period.

Read more at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ucda/20110618/lf_ucda/starinhisgirlfriendseyestriggersboyfriendsjealousy;_ylt=ArW9RsGTN8OH7d6mN1cizS3NbbUC;_ylu=X3oDMTNxMnBhcXY4BGFzc2V0A3VjZGEvMjAxMTA2MTgvc3RhcmluaGlzZ2lybGZyaWVuZHNleWVzdHJpZ2dlcnNib3lmcmllbmRzamVhbG91c3kEcG9zAzcEc2VjA3luX3BhZ2luYXRlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDc3RhcmluaGlzZ2ly

Friday, June 17, 2011

Technology and Social Work

This week, I bought a new phone... my first smart phone, my first android. And I don't have a clue how to use it.

Apparently, according to the manual, it can do everything from checking my work email to syncing my work calendar to making breakfast for me, if I know how to program it to tell it to do so.

I'm all for technology. I'm all for automating things so that what once required 3 photocopies of a form can now be done completely electronically. I'm all for internet searches saving me from a trip to the library. I'm all for webinars and video conferences and call waiting and the whole deal. Probably (hopefully), at some point, I will be all for these fancy pocket computer phones... once I figure this thing out.

But it leads me to wonder about technology and social work. As a staff member on socialworkchat.org, I have loved and gained benefit from twice weekly chats with professionals far more advanced in a field I was just beginning. I have loved message boards that helped me decide where to apply to social work school, websites with test prep information, and blogs like this one. We have so many technological resources now than at any other time in social work history.

But is this a good thing? In a profession that is often based on tone of voice and body language, is it good for us to spend so much time using a screen to obtain information and to bond or is this preventing us from spending as much time face-to-face with others?

What technologies do you use? What are you hoping comes in our social work future?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SW 2.0 Column Sneak Peek - Mother's Red Dress Film

UPDATE (6/16/11): The archived chat from last night can be found here.

Folks, the next sw 2.0 column (archives here) will focus on Kickstarter, a really cool web site that helps one raise funds for creative projects.

Here's a peek at one of the projects using Kickstarter to be profiled in the article, a social issue film called Mother's Red Dress that explores how one family attempts to cope with the effects of domestic violence:

There are only a couple more days to support this film on Kickstarter! If you are interested in learning more you can chat with John Paul Rice, one of the filmmakers, live tonight at 6pm PST (9pm EST, click here to chat), or visit their Kickstarter page.

I hope you are as excited about this project as I am and look for the article coming soon!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Confession

Last week was the first week since I was asked to begin blogging here that I didn't write. Last Friday, for the first time since I started this 1st post-MSW job 8+ months ago, I took a vacation day. It made me realize that I am not very good at practicing what I preach.

In many industries, vacation time is easy; someone else fills in the paperwork, someone else crunches the numbers, someone else removes a gall bladder, someone else mops the floors. In our field though, we're not so easily interchanged or separated from our clients. Many times, our clients don't want to share their secrets and their stories with anyone except us, the person they have built trust with. Many times, that leads us to work through our personal pain, our desire to relax, or to skip the vacation time with loved ones. We fear leaving our clients, our coworkers, our offices, our paperwork. So we stay. We work during times of divorce, too soon after medical procedures, far past the hours we are paid, and we miss out on making memories with others in our personal lives in order to help clients heal from the painful memories they've made.

It's a bit like being a superhero; putting the world first, saving the universe one client at a time, right? Realistically though, it is perhaps the worst thing we can do for our clients and for the world.

We work in a field with little pay, little public support, often little community support, high crime, high risk, high stress, and with too-heavy workloads. It's not surprising that our burnout rate is so high. But maybe the vaccine for that is to try to be our own advocate when it comes to vacations, meal breaks, and healing time. Maybe we need to step up for ourselves, even when it goes against our initial instinct, and force ourselves to step back, to breathe, and to regroup.

As I said, this isn't something I'm by any means an expert about, but I'm going to try harder and I hope, by writing about it here, and with this new awareness, that I'll get better at it as I go along.