The media frequently portrays this as brooding, parent-hating, disgruntled, overworked, and bitter individuals gleefully removing screaming children from parents amongst a broken state system.
During my tenure as a Social Worker, I have always been intrigued and dismayed at the portrayal of social workers on television and in the media. I have only encountered this media-portrayed social worker archetype in real life a mere and unfortunate handful of times in my 20 years. Outside of these select few negative interactions, which are inevitable regardless of career, I could not be more proud to be part of this cohort of professionals.
In honor of Social Work Awareness month, I want to identify as a proud Social Worker of 20 years. In the realities of my daily practice in mental health services, the majority of my social work movements, including my personal, individual, and systemic efforts, have been focused on family strength and preservation.
Family preservation is built on the belief that children should remain with their families whenever it is a viable and safe option, and family members should stay together until all options are exhausted. Family support interventions and strategies require a lot of work and dedication to effectively imbed within an already formed family structure.
To support such an undertaking, it is the passionate, and compassionate, social workers who engage with individuals, families, schools, and state systems to achieve measurable success. As we are taught in our social work programs and asked to practice on a daily basis, this work requires infinite humanity, compassion, creativity, patience, skill, and a sense of humor.
Though this profession is colored by the media as morose and negative, it actually requires laughter, and lots of it. This is because there is an artistic nature to social work. The ability to sit with individuals and systems in crisis is a tremendous responsibility. Social workers are armed with the skills not only to hang in during such moments, but also to respond proactively, achieving sustainable solutions. This is no small feat.
I am honored to have been intimately and systemically connected to hundreds, if not thousands, of children and family members over the past two decades. As a social worker at Wediko Children’s Services, I am incredibly proud to be surrounded by a peer group so instrumental in making a positive impact on children and families, so adaptable in their methodology and practice, and so willing to do the work that is consistently cast in negative light. Their humility, bravery, and strength inspire me to continue, and together our work dismantles systems, heals wounds, and brings hope.
Happy Social Work Awareness Month!
Interested in learning more about Social Work? Visit the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) for more information.