The Presidential Election horrified the ever-living hell out of everyone I know. I wrote the following reflection as a personal note to my social work colleagues and I have modified it and posted it because it may do some good.
For social workers that identify as progressive, LGBTQ, Muslim, Immigrant, Feminist, non-White, disabled, pro-choice, and/or have friends, colleagues, and clients that are in marginalized communities, the outcome of the Presidential election was devastating. We’re all somewhere on the Kübler-Ross cycle of grief. Shock (“I can’t believe this happened”). Denial (“This can’t be happening”). Anger (“[redacted potty-mouth language]”). Bargaining (“The electrical (sic) college! There’s still hope!”). Acceptance (Her concession speech and the P.O.ed groups that have banded together). Not sure if getting to that last one is helpful to coping with this loss.
As social workers, we are compelled to maintaining the ethical standards of providing the client with dignity, respect, and fighting for our social work values.
This is an opportunity for us all to use our #MacroSW skills to organize and fight. The Affordable Care Act helped people access health and mental health healthcare, but the politicians that got that law passed left a lot of blood on the floor for it and we may have to fight in the same way to keep as much of it intact as possible.
Remember where your privilege is: you’re resourceful, educated, and compassionate. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably survived a crisis or 3. For right now, it’s in place and our clients can continue developing coping skills and receiving the support they need to manage and overcome this crisis.
Compassion is what we all need from each other right now and what our clients need from us, so meet them where they’re at.
Normalizing our client’s fears, using crisis intervention (specifically, identifying where they may have control or processing catastrophic thinking), and letting them know that they are not alone might be helpful. It may be useful to remind clients that there are lots and lots of people that disagree with negative rhetoric and abhor sexism, misogyny, oppression, xenophobia, homophobia, and racism. A lot of people. This is a time for folks to find community whether it’s something like LULAC, church, or cultural centers. A safety pin is a nice gesture of silent protest and letting people know you are a safe person.
Fear is a terrible beast. Giving our clients hope, compassion, and comfort helps to empower our clients against that. We are all in this together.
Ignacio Pacheco, MSW, LCSW
Social Work Tech