In case you didn't know March is National Social Work Month and March 19th starts National Social Work Week. And since I am a social worker I thought this post was appropriate.
Let's start with the basics...
What is a Social Worker
Unfortunately, social workers get an extremely bad rep. BUT, I am here to tell you once and for all that we are more than just the people that place children is state custody. In Oklahoma, especially, the term "social worker" is used very loosely. I have corrected many people on what a social worker is and if you have not earned a social work degree, a social worker you are not! Case worker? case manager? Sure. Social Worker? Naw boo. No shade just being real. And I feel like that's important because a lot of times it is the people that are not social workers but get called social workers that are involved in foul play. This is not to say that others do not do a great work. I know some phenomenal state workers that are passionate about what they do and make sure they do a great job and they are very much needed.
Anyway, enough of the rant. Social Workers can do so many things! We can work in schools, hospitals, agencies, shelters, different bodies of government...our reach is unmatchable. We are change agents. Our whole goal is to assist individuals and/or communities achieve the change that they desire.
What Do I Do?
Currently, I have a Masters Degree in Social Work (MSW) and I am a school based therapist through a project that my agency and a local school system have collaborated to implement. I work with elementary students that are struggling in school and/or at home due to various issues. The majority of my students have experienced at least one trauma. I am also a part of my agency's mobile crisis team which helps community members that are struggling with suicidal and homicidal thoughts and sometimes just psychosis episodes.
Why Social Work
Until about 10th or 11th grade I wanted to go into journalism. Then, this precious little boy came in and shifted our family dynamic. 😊 My little brother was adopted in 2006. During the process we had LOTS of different people coming into the home doing different tasks. Some were great, some not so much but either way I was intrigued by what they were doing. I have never been a person to change what career I wanted a lot. I have loved writing since elementary school and this point in our lives was the first time I ever looked a different direction than journalism. BUT, I knew that in some way God would bring together my passion for children and the less fortunate, my love for writing, and this new discovery of social work all for one purpose. I became enthralled by this work and began looking into different degree options.
Therapy sounded great but when I looked at psychology it just didn't fit. The moment I saw Sociology- Human Services that was it. There was no turning back. When I tell people that I am a therapist they often assume that I am an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) however, I chose LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). To me, the main difference is that social workers can do so much more than just counseling...our license and degree are so flexible and multi-faceted that it could get me almost any job I could ever want. Also, social work tends to focus on the whole person and the environment in comparison to psychology which focuses more on the brain and is much more scientific and mathematical in nature.
I don't remember the specific event but I remember a time in middle school when I learned about how women and children in other countries were not free like we are in the U.S. They were treated very poorly by the men in their countries and even then it made me cry and hurt for those people. At the time, I was still stuck on journalism but felt in my heart that God would in some way allow me to explore and help with that. So, I say that to say that this work and desire to do this has always been inside of me. I have wanted for so long to give voices to people, women and children especially, that felt like they didn't have a voice. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say that children are to be seen and not heard and that they don't have opinions. This is not true at all. Now, should they be running your house? No. But, they should be learning from a young age that what they have to say and what they care about is valuable to the world. It is these children that grow up to make the world a better place. These children rarely struggle with self-esteem issues because they are validated from such a young age. Eventually, they will become adults and have to make adult decisions; but if they are not guided through decision making and standing up for themselves in a safe space where they can be taught, what will happen when they have to do it on their own? I connect with all of my clients, both adults and minors because I hear them when no one else will. That is what is important to me.
Another part of giving people a voice is being the voice for them. I love advocating for my clients. It's funny because my family always thought that I would become a lawyer because of argumentative skills (cute, right? LOL). Well, I didn't go to law school but I still get to use my skills, my passion, and determination to get my clients what they need when they are denied basic rights. I love what I do and not many are blessed to be able to say that.
As you can tell from my blog Mental Health is a big deal to me. It is what really gets my heart pumping. So, to all of the social workers reading this...thank you for what you do. Our job is so draining at times but it is so worth it. Keep up the good work. Also, I love connecting with other social workers! Please comment below your experience as a social worker and feel free to connect with me on social media:
- FB: facebook.com/notesbykhia
- Twitter: twitter.com/notesbykhia