Editor Note: I’m starting a series – Pro Tip Tuesday – that I hope helps with marrying the social worker identity with the technology piece that this blog focuses on. Some themes may lean on one side more than the other, but I hope that this inspires professional development.
Be The Hero You Admire
There are many people in your life that hold a positive influence over you. Whether those person are family by blood, circumstance, or through a profound journey together, draw from their wisdom, example, and leadership. Emulate their good qualities and learn from mistakes made: how would your hero handle it?. We are human.
Stand Against Oppression
Social Workers stand against oppression. Some do it openly while others channel Saul Alinsky in their endeavors. My personal favorites are the down-right subversive. While “good” is subjective, It’s my fervent belief that social workers should stand for empowering those vulnerable to the system’s oppression. Stand firm, tall, and dignified.
Pick Your Battles
Being a social worker often means dealing with a lot of bureaucracy, supervisors, non-social-workers, and other “helping” “professionals” that have the wrong idea about what it is you do as a social worker. There are things that are under the control of other people (e.g. their attitude), things that no one can control (e.g. economic-related cut-backs), and things that only you can control (e.g. your professionalism).
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference
Represent our profession with dignity. Be the “social worker” that’s not like the “bad one” that your client has previously had – you know… the mislabeled worker that treated them with indignity and made them feel less-than. Being dignified means upholding our professional values, having good boundaries, and being firm, fair, and consistent.
The best advice ever given to me by a mentor is to be: firm, fair, and consistent. Be firm with your stand (e.g. agency rules, personal boundaries, etc.), fair with your implementation (e.g. what applies to one applies to all), and consistent in your application of these things. Giving dignity also means listening, empathizing, and letting your client take ownership of their problem and path: self-determination.
With peers, colleagues, and clients, every one has been in vulnerable positions. Whether you have half a degree or several, be mindful of your privilege. You may be able-bodied, of sound mind (i.e. functional), and have supportive people in your life. We often take for granted what other people want so desperately.
There’s only one you. You’re a social worker. And you are gosh darn awesome.
Editor Note: I snagged the image from Tumblr, but do not know to whom to give credit to. If anyone knows who deserves credit for the image, please let me know so that I can give. I thought it was so awesome.