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The Golden Nuggets of Social Work

It’s funny how I’m doing something that I thought I would never do – practicing social work. Working with families for the past 11 years has been stressful at times. However, I have been able to survive with these 5 tips.

5 Golden Nuggets

If it’s not written, it didn’t happen – I can tell my supervisor that I did a home visit, or referred a client for parenting classes. However, I have to write it down or type it up to prove that the work was actually done. This nugget is the golden unwritten rule for me and other social workers as well.

Go the extra mile – As a social worker, I work late sometimes and coordinate events on the weekend. I have also bought a client a bag of groceries. These extra steps might mean less TV time or a little sacrifice of social time. The extra step means that you have a feeling of accomplishment. Most of all, you know that your work matters.

Little things mean a lot – “Thanks for returning my phone call. Many people don’t do that.” A simple thing like returning a call might seem small to you. However, when I hear a foster parent or a caseworker get excited, the simple phone call restores hope that there are people who do care for others.

Empathy vs. Sympathy – Many people think that social workers are supposed to feel sorry, have pity for their clients, or make excuses. In fact, empathy is how I was trained to help people. A hand out, or sympathy provides a crutch for people to hang onto the professional and never learn to be proactive or accountable. Try walking in someone else’s shoes by listening to their story to give the best care.

Self care is the best care – I did recovery work in the Gulf Coast just a few months after Hurricane Katrina. While I was on the road for 10 days with other social workers, I learned to take the necessary precautions to protect myself physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. For me, I had my CD player, my Bible and my favorite slippers while providing care. Self care still goes through my mind today. Things such as annual physical exam, proper sleep and eating right can fight stress.

If you ever think about becoming a social worker, I hope you can use these tips to be the best professional and provider for others and for you.

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