Every day is self care day! But Saturday will be a dedicated time to explore…
What is “Social Work?”
The best way for me to kick off my new blog is through the following words I wrote awhile back about what social work is and means to me. My experience with social work has been so diverse already even though my time in the field has been incredibly short.
Maybe that’s why social work is so hard to define…there are so many different ways that social work happens that there isn’t one simply way to describe the field. It doesn’t just happen in a classroom, an office, at a desk, or at a store. It isn’t just paperwork, talking with a client, or “taking away children.”
Please enjoy the following words, based off of my limited time in the field:
Social Work is
So much paperwork.
But social work
Sitting in a hospital waiting room
For hours on end
Hoping that, this time, it all works out.
It is being a privileged witness
To the beginnings and endings of a life.
It is teaching grown adults
To use a toilet
All while preserving their dignity.
It is spending an entire day
Making juice for a client celebration.
It is listening to the same story
For the 64th time.
It is being able to predict
The next words out of a client’s mouth,
But not acting on the prediction prematurely.
It is balancing client needs
With laws and outside expectations
That do not always have the client interest in mind.
It is encountering ethical questions
On a daily basis.
Decisions made with no clear guidance.
It is putting out fires with client families
And also putting out literal fires.
It is being given a task
And learning how to complete it
As you go.
It is fixing toilets and vacuums
And unplugging kitchen sinks.
It is sitting with a client
As they sober up
For the fifth time that week.
It is becoming accustomed to calling emergency services
It is being a first responder
Saving lives with no prior experience.
It is sitting with a client late into the night
Close to tears
As they face a future they cannot control
Because of a past they did not choose.
It is comforting them
Even when you know the outcome
Will be poor.
It is feeling fear and anger.
It is wanting to fight with every inch of energy possible
But being held back
By the law. By the organization. By society.
It is questioning if any of the work
Is even worth it.
It is knowing without a doubt
That these lives could make
The world a better place.
It is quietly carrying countless stories
Of heartbreak and joy
Within your own being.
It is laughter and devastation.
It is messy and complicated.
It is defined by expectations, ethics, and regulations.
It is flexible and vaguely understood in practice.
It is walking with human beings
Wherever they are
However they need to grow
Whatever mistakes they may make
And make again and again.
It is a burden and a privilege.
Social Work is there