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
Ignacio, I’m gearing up to teach another round of BlogStart for Therapists and came looking to make sure that you are maintaining your blog so that I can show my class how therapists can use their blogging for social good as well as to build their businesses.
I’m delighted to to read this post albeit a few months late.
Thank you for taking the time to address this painful time in our country when so many are struggling to make sense out of this sick transition.
I appreciate your thoughtful point that many of us are trying to make sense of this change even as we are supporting our clients in doing the same.
You’ve managed to remind us that even while we are moving through our own grief, we also have power and privilege to do more . . . to do better.
And, I would add that particularly those of us that are white in this country have additional power and privileges that come with added response-abilities to do better . . . be better than this current administration and to do a whole lot more . . . to turn this crisis around.
Be safe and thank you for continuing to speak up, speak out, and to share what you know to be true!
Your voice is needed!